Since the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work and hybrid work have become the norm. Now that many are used to this arrangement, with some thriving in it, it’s unlikely that remote or hybrid work will ever go away.
But remote work is starting to lose momentum.
Why is this the case?
The end of the pandemic
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies went to great lengths to formulating new policy and transition to a completely remote environment to maintain public health and comply with regulations and recommendations from the government.
There were certainly people working from home long before the pandemic, and working from home was on the rise before this virus started spreading. The dawn of the pandemic was a flashpoint that led millions of businesses and individuals to adopt a policy they might not have been ready for. No wonder the end of the pandemic will inspire them to go back to their old ways.
There are a few complicating factors here. First, on what date does the pandemic end? Most of us have witnessed a slow and vague transition from near-apocalyptic conditions to a return to everyday life – and this goes on over the course of a few years. With no official end date and lingering pandemic uncertainty, many organizations are now only comfortable returning to the office.
Second, many companies have handled the transition to remote work sloppily and spontaneously. They pretty much had to. Some tech startups have been able to create a fully functional, remote business plan from the start, but most businesses simply work from the office and try to make it a work-from-home model. Unfortunately, this sloppy and impromptu approach can lead to poorer remote working results, leading leaders to assume that remote working is the root cause of the problem. Accordingly, the sentiment towards working from home has changed.
Complex questions about productivity
Does working from home make you more productive?
That is a complicated question. In the mid-2010s, we saw a flurry of new scientific studies showing that working from home boosts productivity, but even those studies were questioned; Does working from home make people more productive or is everyone trying their best to prove that working from home is a benefit worth maintaining?
In fact, the simple answer is that working from home makes some people more productive and some less productive. There are too many variables, including contradictory ones, to give a concise and universal explanation.
The nature of your workspace can have a big impact on your productivity and mindset. Some have even chosen to work outside, highlighting the outdoor setting with a full outdoor kitchen and a set of comfortable patio furniture. Some people have upgraded a room in their home to serve as a fully functional and isolated office. These spaces facilitate greater productivity. But others just choose to work on the couch, or on the dining table, and some barely have enough living space to work comfortably. These options are not conducive to long-term productivity.
Often, working from home means more personal autonomy. You can have a more flexible schedule and you will certainly be more tolerant of the way you work. For some, this is a godsend, helping them to realize their true potential. For others, freedom is a double-edged sword; they may find it harder to stay focused or task-focused when they let them make their own decisions.
Isolation from distractions.
Are there more or less distractions when you work from home? It depends. Some employees who work remotely have been able to create an environment where they are completely distraction-free, isolated from both co-workers and family members. But for others, working from home increases the number of distractions that keep them from being productive. Children playing loudly, watching TV and noisy traffic are just a few examples. It’s also worth noting that some distractions can be valuable; Getting into a break room or engaging in a conversation with a co-worker can be a meaningful opportunity to de-stress and de-stress.
Access to resources.
It’s hard to argue that the average person has access to more resources in a remote work environment than they do in a traditional office environment. With access to peers, better technology, and more support, most people thrive in traditional rather than remote environments. But some remote workers can already afford (or be granted) an environment that can be at least close to what they had before.
Digital collaboration tool.
Do digital collaboration tools make us more or less productive? Again, it all depends. Some people use these tools better than others, and some tools are actually better than others. Project management platforms, shared document editors and similar tools enhance our capabilities – but they rarely fully replace traditional forms of collaboration.
Tired virtual meeting
Remote working promotes the growth of new technology innovation, which includes sophisticated video chat tools that have turned virtual meetings into the “new normal”. Virtual meetings are often better than no face-to-face meetings at all, but they pale in comparison to face-to-face meetings. Amid technological glitches, awkward interruptions, audio issues, and diminishing impact of body language and tone, millions of people are now suffering from virtual meeting fatigue.
Some business leaders, regulators and other authorities are beginning to worry about the slowdown in development. Lower-level and inexperienced employees tend to thrive in environments where they frequently interact and engage with co-workers and mentors. After seeing skill development stagnated, remote work seems less appealing.
Loneliness and isolation
Working remotely no need to be lonely, but it usually is. Despite the fact that most people celebrate the opportunity to get away from their bosses and co-workers, the reality is that humans are social creatures that thrive in groups. The novelty of alone time at work is quickly disappearing for millions of people. In addition, it is replaced by loneliness and sometimes depression. It is true that people can find alternative forms of social interaction, spend more time with friends and family members, or participate in public groups, but for many people interacting in a traditional work environment seems like a practical necessity.
Offers and requests
There are many dynamics that can lead corporate decision-makers to re-establish the traditional office environment. Some may outright desire the old way of doing things, for no other reason than personal preference. Regardless of the motivation, these leaders are willing to make demands and/or offer incentives. This way, they get everyone back into the office by any means necessary.
Future is future?
If remote work is no longer the shared future we once thought, then What about combined work?? In this flexible arrangement, companies can let some of their employees work in the traditional way, others work from home; they may also only allow working from home during certain days or certain periods of time.
We think the hybrid model has the potential to give companies and employees the best of both worlds, maintaining some of the advantages of remote work without having to completely abandon the traditional office model. But it remains to be seen whether the hybrid model will be the most widely adopted.
Regardless of whether you prefer to work in a traditional office or work remotely, it is clear that many companies are beginning to transition away from the remote working model. If you’re a remote worker who wants to keep those benefits, you’d better start preparing a good presentation. And if you’ve been yearning to get back to the office, rejoice – your ideal transition may be near.