Who Will Win The Remote VS Office War?
There’s long been a disconnect between employers and employees regarding work-life balance. Well before WFH became an acronym we no longer needed to spell out, countless studies found that the lack of personal time was a major concern for the average worker.
One particular study in 2015 – so, BC-19 (Before Covid-19) – found 67% of HR professionals thought their employees had work-life balance, while nearly half (47%) of employees felt they didn’t have enough time each work day to do personal activities.
These days, post-pandemic, that disconnect has grown even wider as the office versus WFH debate rages on. Except this time around, the divide might be because people aren’t spending enough time in the office. One recent study revealed 65% of workers feel lonelier and less connected to their employees and their co-workers than ever before.
Lonely employees equate to lower productivity, more missed days at work, lower quality of work, and a higher risk of turnover, with the latter costing US companies $406 billion a year.
There are as many people espousing the benefits of returning to the office as there are those who vehemently oppose it. In one corner, you have companies, like Google and Apple, attempting to return to a pre-pandemic “normal” with many corporate leaders still putting a premium on “face time” in the office.
Elon Musk told his employees at Tesla and SpaceX that he expects them to spend at least 40 hours per week in the office, and in a recent company-wide email penned by Peloton CEO Barry McCarthy, he explained that this return to the office will be mandatory, and that the company will “respect the choice” of anyone who chooses to leave as a result.
Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell recently lectured the American workforce on the perils of working from home. Working from home is not, he said on the podcast Diary of a CEO, in people’s best interest. “If you’re just sitting in your pajamas in your bedroom, is that the work life you wanna live? We want you to have a feeling of belonging, and to feel necessary. And if you’re not here, it’s really hard to do that.”
However, in the other corner, there are about 92 million people who do want to work remotely, at least part of the time. Companies such as Spotify, Atlassian, and Twitter are continuing to let their employees ‘work from anywhere’.
What the pandemic did was deliver a realistic alternative to the daily commute to the office, and now many people aren’t willing to go back to the status quo. A large survey taken in late 2021 of workers in 17 countries found that 71% of 18-to-24-year-olds said that, “if my employer insisted on me returning to my workplace full-time, I would consider looking for another job.”
And they can do just that, at least for now. There are around 125 million full-time jobs in America and researchers at Gallup say that half of these jobs — mostly office or “white collar” jobs — can be done remotely. The question is, what will these fully-remote workers be missing out on?
The value of actually being in a room with co-workers cannot be underestimated: the shared experience, the serendipity of talking to people in roles not directly related to what you do; the exposure to a diversity of ideas and perspectives; the chance to look up and say, “I never thought about it that way.”
Americans often spend a third to more than half of their waking hours working, so work is inevitably where many of our bonds and friendships are formed. And they’re incredibly important to us. A 2019 report by The Institute of Leadership and Management found that building close relationships with colleagues was the most important factor in determining job satisfaction by 77% of respondents.
If workers want the best of both worlds, then flexibility might just be the answer. One thing is becoming clear about the future of work, at least in the near term. Hybrid work arrangements are going to be the norm for many organizations, in industries ranging from tech to pharmaceuticals to academia. Here are three exceptional US companies offering just that – and you can discover plenty more on The Hill Jobs Board.
PayPal is committed to helping employees maintain balance between the demands of work life and personal life. It offers telecommuting (which allows staff to work from home instead of the office) and flexi-work arrangements (My Balance), where they have control over their start and end work times within the scope of regular office hours. If this sounds like a company you’d like to work for, the Strategic Finance & Pricing Manager is a great career role based in Washington that you should check out.
Microsoft has long prided itself on making the wellbeing and safety of its people a number one priority. It values and supports flexibility as part of its “hybrid workplace” (a mix of workstyles across three dimensions: work site, work location, and work hours) where every employee can do their best work. Across 190 countries and with over 180,000 passionate people, Microsoft is a global community of curious, purpose-minded individuals. Interested in a #MicrosoftLife? The company is currently looking for a Surface Partner Technology Strategist.
Mastercard is committed to supporting its diverse and inclusive workforce across the globe. As part of that commitment, it offers generous benefits programs that are designed using global standards to ensure the financial, emotional, and medical safety of all its employees and their loved ones. From new parent leave to tuition assistance, there’s a whole host of benefits for employees, including Flex Work, which is flexibility to get the job done where and when you work best. Employees can find balance with the opportunity to work remotely, have a flexible start time, or a combination of the two. Like the sound of that? This hybrid remote, full-time position as Director of Product Management could be just what you’re looking for.