The return-to-office debate continues, with many workers favoring remote or hybrid arrangements while some managers insist the home-based are missing out on collaboration, serendipity, and mentoring.
No one is all right or all wrong here. I’ve worked remotely on various projects for more than two decades, but I also benefited greatly from in-person mentoring and training after graduate school, so I see both sides. Without the network I built during years of in-office work, my opportunities would have been far fewer and lesser. But it’s undeniable that commuting eats time that could otherwise be spent with family and friends—and employees are usually uncompensated for that time. COVID exposure remains a risk of working in-office, long COVID is very much unsolved, and building ventilation isn’t yet what it should be.
Given these factors, the five-day-a-week in-office schedule isn’t likely to rise phoenix-like anytime soon, and commercial real estate landlords would do well to accept it and start repurposing suitable office buildings for residential use. But the biggest factor in employee satisfaction and engagement may have nothing to do with geographical location, but with autonomy.