Three Reasons Some are Ready to Get Back in the Office

Susy Chandler found herself sobbing inside her Asheville, NC house in June 2020, two and a half months after COVID brought the world to a standstill and the phrases “quarantine” and “social separation” entered our world. Chandler is a mother to two and  Associate Director; she considers herself an extrovert so the abrupt shift in her job arrangement had left her feeling isolated and alone, and the uncertainty was weighing heavily on her.

“I missed people,” she adds. “I missed feeling normal.”

Chandler had anticipated working from home for two weeks when she was initially asked to do so in mid-March 2020. But that is not how events played out. Chandler, like millions of others, was forced to adjust to a new environment that included video meetings with coworkers, replying to emails while preparing dinner, and dealing with increasingly blurred borders between work and home life. To cope, she took up other activities, such as running, and began clocking 30 kilometers per week with a few neighbors.

Chandler is back in the workplace full-time today and is overjoyed to be there.

Working remotely is sometimes romanticized by freelancers and digital nomads who spend their time typing part-time on their computers from exotic locations—and during the pandemic many full-time professionals joined the WFH ranks and haven’t looked back. However, 100% remote work is not for everyone. Some employees not only suffer, but also openly complain about having to work outside the workplace.

We chatted with a few experts who are ecstatic to be back on-site. Below are the three main reasons they are excited about their return.  

1. It is easier to set boundaries between your work and personal life

Chandler describes her return to work as “delineating the weekends all over again.” “Weekdays extended into weekends, and there was nothing to look forward to or enjoy on Saturday and Sunday,” she said while she worked from home. “Everything blended together.”

Chandler says she’s scheduling more weekend family plans and sticking to them. She just brought her child to acquire his first library card, which was a “huge success.” It’s a basic and apparently insignificant duty, but Chandler fears she’d put it off if she’d checked her email over the weekend, as she often did when working remotely.

When you leave the workplace at the end of the day, it indicates a break in work until the next morning, but when the computer is open in the center of your personal living area, it might be difficult to ignore. While it is feasible to create work-life boundaries when working from home, for some individuals, like Chandler, physically entering a defined office environment is what is required to draw a clear line between these two worlds.

“Perhaps it’s the development of living in a pandemic,” Chandler speculates. “Returning to work has made me cherish the time with my kids so much more,” she says.

2. Collaborations happen more naturally

Some like the increased degree of cooperation that comes when people are in the same physical area.

“At the Library of Congress, we have a real ‘hallway’ culture,” says Phoebe Coleman, visitor experience program manager at the Washington, D.C.-based cultural institution. “Some of the finest partnerships begin when employees’ cross paths in subterranean tunnels.”

She shares that because of such an informal setting, there is much more information being shared and that the same fluid method of communication did not occur when passed through the filter of Teams or Zoom. Coleman believes that this format of face-to-face cooperation in a more casual ‘hallway’ environment has helped to inspire new initiatives and assist in the development of existing ones in ways that she does not believe would have occurred otherwise.

3. The workday flies by

The 9-to-5 office job has a dynamic feeling with benefits that will break up, brighten up, and speed up the workday.

Paige Kuhn’s campus, for example, is pet-friendly, which means furry pals are allowed at work and there’s even a dog park. Seeing her coworkers’ dogs since returning to work has been a significant pull for both her and her colleagues.

Splitting up the workday with a variety of breaks is a proven strategy to keep concentrated, and as research has shown, being focused, and involved in something you like plays a huge influence in how fast time seems to pass.

Kuhn has found the enjoyable breaks to be a nice change of pace, and she has observed a good shift in atmosphere across the whole campus. Finally, she believes, it has given her a renewed feeling of purpose in her job. “Going back to the office isn’t for everyone,” she adds, “but I believe that after everything settles down, we’ll be left with a terrific bunch of individuals who are delighted to be back.”

Those are just a few of the benefits that might work for you when being back in the office. But if you find you prefer the work from home lifestyle, here is a list of Jobs You Can Do from Anywhere to help you get started.

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