As the country has started its slow return to normalcy, many workplaces will reopen their offices for employees. According to a survey conducted by The Conference Board, 72% of companies surveyed report that employees will be able to return to the workplace within the next five months. Whether those employees show up, however, remains to be seen.
Another survey conducted by Digital.com suggests that on the topic of leaving remote work for a return to the traditional office, employers and employees are not on the same page. Of the 1,500 small business owners who responded to Digital’s survey, 39% said they expect everyone to return to the office, 20% will let employees choose, and 17% will make hybrid schedules. Most interesting: 39% say they will fire employees unwilling to return from remote work, especially in the IT, finance, and advertising industries.
Many companies seem to believe that working in the office is essential to productivity and they have good reason to enforce that return. There are others who believe that a full return to the workplace is an outdated mode of operation. Dennis Consorte, Digital.com’s small business expert, has pushed back in support of remote work:
“It’s true that in-person, human interaction has tremendous value for certain types of teams…but that’s old-school thinking. Remote work is just an extension of this existing trend, and companies that are stuck in an old mindset will be left behind.”
Furthering that theory, Consorte believes that the pandemic did not simply bring about the work-from-home paradigm shift, it merely sped up the inevitable. In support of this claim, The Conference Board’s study also found that occupations that were already trending toward remote work prior to the pandemic are some of the least likely to return to the office. These include computer, mathematical, legal, and business/financial operations.
It appears that regardless of any theory, the result will inevitably be a hybrid of the two work modes depending upon the type of business, and companies will adjust accordingly to the level of profitably remote or in-person work offers. And as it tends to do, the free market will be able to adapt and provide in the post-pandemic world.
See you on the trail,