To Office or Not To Office

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As Covid is slowly retreating in some countries many of us lucky enough to have been working remotely will be perhaps able return to the office, most likely under some flexible or hybrid arrangements. Should we though? Or should we just stay working from home?

Here’s 10 reasons to stay at home, and 10 reasons to get back to that office.

10 reasons to stay working at home

  1. More family time. I spent 11 years working full time in a previous company that didn’t allow any working from home. I left each day about 7:40am and got back about 6:20pm, so I saw my wife and young kids for a few hours each day and at weekends. Suddenly with Covid I’ve had so much more quality time with them, and we’ve all benefited.
  2. No commute — saving time and money. I’ve been saving about 2.5 hours a day and probably a couple of grand a year in train tickets.
  3. Healthier food. Let’s be honest, working in the office = McDonalds Tuesday, Thursday, Friday … I’ve been trying at home to vary my lunches, though they do sometime end up like this:

4. Less micro-management — remote working has led to workers getting more autonomy, even just by the fact their managers aren’t sitting in a desk in the corner looking over at them all day.

Which has of course raised the question … do we really need all those managers in the first place?

5. Performance based on performance, not being present in the office. It’s hard to judge someone’s performance mainly on their being present in the office, or coming in early and staying late, when there is no office. Instead, performance has to be now judged on … actual performance.

6. More comfortable place to work. My awesome company let us buy home ‘office equipment’ so of course I bought the largest bean bag I could find …

7. Easier to change job in a remote first world. Employers are realising that all of a sudden they can hire people that don’t live close to their offices — which is win-win for companies and employees, and should theoretically lead to more choices to change jobs more often.

8. Flexibility — the traditional 9 to 5 is out the window, and the “work whichever hours during the day suits you, as long as the work gets done” is in.

9. More inclusive teams and meetings — maybe. This one really depends on what’s going on in your own company, but I’ve seen more efforts to include people in meetings now that we’re all remote, whereas in the “olden days” .. . of last year before Covid … it was actually more likely some people wouldn’t even be asked for their opinion in in-person meetings.

10. Able to watch Loki as soon as it comes out. Have you seen episode 4?! There’s no way I’m waiting until ‘after work’ when the next ones come out.

10 reasons to get back to that office

Some of which are remarkably similar to the stay at home reasons! Which shows why none of this is simple!

  1. No family to distract and elongate the workday. Spending more time with the family is amazing, but I usually start work between 9am and 10am, have numerous interruptions from kids and pets throughout the day, then work more in the evening to catchup. I’m looking forward getting back to the office so hopefully I can have a better separation of work and life.
  2. A commute — many people have told me they miss the headspace and chill-out time that their commutes used to give them. When your ‘office’ is upstairs in the spare bedroom, there’s no time to read a book or watch Netflix as you walk up the stairs to start work.
  3. McDonalds for lunch anytime you want. Enough said.
  4. Less isolation. Some folks spent large parts of the pandemic on their own at home, isolated from social contact with their friends and colleagues. For them, getting back to an office with other people can’t come soon enough.
  5. Better collaboration — based on an assumption that getting folks together in person is better for collaboration, innovation and creativity. Whether this is true or not is still an open question and needs research.
  6. Better mentoring and learning. One area I think is more certain is that younger workers will lose out on improved mentoring if they’re at home. Sometimes even just observing other colleagues in action can be a learning experience, and only interacting with people over Zoom calls just isn’t the same.
  7. Closer to your customers — this isn’t the case for some companies of course, but with either ‘business’ customers within your company or actual external customers, being closer physically to them may lead to better interactions and understanding. Again, this may or may not be true!
  8. Potentially less likely to be replaced by cheaper remote workers. One aspect of working from home that may not go as immediately noticed by workers is — if your company is happy to pay you to work from your attic in Ireland, what’s to stop them paying someone less money to do the same job from an attic in a country with lower salaries? Of course, being in an office may not protect you from this either, but probably less likely than if your company is fully remote.
  9. Social – much easier to go for the occasional post works pints / escape room / board-game night when you’re not all in different parts of the country.
  10. Able to watch Loki on those huge TVs we have in the office!

Whether you go back is your choice (hopefully) but perhaps some of the above will give some food for thought! Any thoughts or comments, just let me know below.

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Creator of Boxapopa, the iOS game for young kids with zero ads, just fun! https://apps.apple.com/ie/app/boxapopa/id1550536188

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Andy O'Sullivan

Andy O'Sullivan

Creator of Boxapopa, the iOS game for young kids with zero ads, just fun! https://apps.apple.com/ie/app/boxapopa/id1550536188

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