return to office

Return To Office: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

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Is your employer preparing to go back to the office this September? Or are you still waiting to hear about your workplace’s return to office plan? No matter what the case may be, we’re pretty sure you only have one question in mind. And that is, “Should I stay or should I go?”

Working from home: the ups and downs

There is no doubt that remote work comes with its own set of challenges.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably changed the way we work (perhaps forever), there are some pros and cons to it as well. As much as attending meetings in your sweats and having no commute to the office might seem like a dream, many workers are quickly realizing that the lines between their personal and professional lives are becoming increasingly blurry. 

Simply put, it’s hard to unplug from work when your office and home environments are the same. Furthermore, creating a company culture is notoriously difficult when the people of the said company work from home and don’t actively interact outside of it.

Sure — the flexibility of starting work whenever you want during the day, and having the time to pursue hobbies or to drop your kids off at school is great. However, according to a Buffer survey, remote workers often struggle with communication issues, loneliness, and unplugging from work. 

On the flip side, results from the survey also showed that the convenience of working from home simply cannot be rivaled. The results showed that over 40% of respondents love the flexibility of working from anywhere in the world. It is not uncommon to hear about people willing to leave their jobs to maintain this level of flexibility rather than return to the office.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, companies are choosing between three basic options for returning to work. They can either call everyone back to the office, adopt a hybrid work model, or offer more remote work options to employees. Companies will need to remain flexible in how they return to the office because the risks COVID-19 poses continue to evolve. Yes, we’re looking at you, Delta variant.

What’s next?

The Great Wait, apparently.

Earlier this week, Google announced yet another delay in its re-opening plan, pushing it until January 2022. It was previously expected that the tech giant would return to office in October, which was a delay from September, which was again a delay from July 2021. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Starbucks have all already announced postponements with similar timelines. 

Microsoft even went a step further and scrapped their return of office date and told employees to work from home indefinitely. Their reason? Uncertainties posed by the threat of COVID-19. More employers are expected to do the same as the Delta variant spreads throughout the U.S. and the world.

With mobility restrictions eased in Europe recently, many employees are waiting until school is out before returning to the office. In Asia, authorities have been wary about relaxing restrictions that have prevented the spread of COVID-19.

A flood of delay announcements shows that even 18 months into the coronavirus pandemic, the future of the workplace is still as uncertain as ever — and employers are spending a big amount of money trying to decide what to do next.

Looking into the details

There are new variables that must be considered by companies amidst their return to office. This includes mask mandates that have been dropped and ordered back; evidence that vaccines are becoming less effective; booster shots; and burnt-out workers with varying levels of vaccination. 

In addition to that, there are also different infection rates throughout the country and a shifting power dynamic between employers and employees. Workers who have embraced remote work are at odds with the push to get them back into the office.

Portia’s story

Recently, a mere 6-minute meeting drove Portia Twidt to quit her job. The 33-year-old from Georgia had been promised that her position as Research Compliance Specialist would be fully remote. That was until the request for an in-person 6-minute gathering showed up. Twidt got dressed, dropped her two kids off at daycare, drove to the office, had a brief chat, and decided to leave.

What was the reason, you ask? Three words: boomer power play.

Portia, whose story went viral over social media, believes the notion that some bosses, particularly those who come from a generation less accustomed to remote work, are eager to take back control of their minions. That’s why they’re pushing for a quick return to the office.

She is not alone in her demands to make remote work the new norm. According to a May survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, 39% would consider quitting if their employers were not flexible about remote work.

So at the end of the day, the choice is yours. Should you stay or should you go?