The Great Return? Business Outlook on Returning to In-Office Work

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The pandemic has truly shaken things up, especially our work patterns. A major question on  people’s minds is whether companies are preparing to return their employees to the office, or  whether remote work is here to stay. In other words, will there soon be a “Great Return” to on site work?

  1. What Do Companies Desire?

Do companies want a “Great Return”? For one, many companies are calling their employees  back to the office in order to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. In March of 2022, large companies like BNY Mellon, Google, and Twitter have officially told employees to plan on  coming back to work in their offices.

Leading banks and financial firms, such as Citigroup,  American Express, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan have also announced plans to have employees return. In February 2022, American Express CEO Stephen Squeri said that “after a  very long wait, it will be good for many of us to see each other again in person and enjoy the  connections, collaboration, and variety in our daily routines.” 

However, companies are also emphasizing schedule flexibility and hybrid models. Twitter CEO  Parag Agrawal said that the company aims to be flexible with schedules. Hybrid models are often  used, with a few days in the office and a few days remote. For example, under American  Express’s “Amex Flex” approach, the company will operate “with colleagues in hybrid roles  adopting the schedules set initially with their leaders”, according to Squeri. 

  1. The Apparent Trends

What do actual trends indicate regarding a “Great Return”? While many companies desire a  return to in-office work, data scientists at Ladders insist that remote work is not going anywhere  anytime soon.  

Since the onset of the pandemic, researchers from Ladders have been tracking remote work  trends from the largest 50,000 employers in North America. Before the pandemic, remote  opportunities were under 4% of all high-paying jobs, but this has jumped up to about 9% at the  end of 2020, and to more than 15% by February 2022.  

According to Ladders’ projections, 1 in 4 professional jobs in North America will be remote by  the end of 2022, and remote work opportunities will only increase when 2023 comes around. 

Ladders CEO Marc Cenedella goes so far as to say that we’re experiencing the largest societal  change in America since the end of World War II. 

  1. Pushback Against Working From Home

However, this does not mean that remote work will be the norm forever, and there is plenty of  pushback against the work-from-home model.  

According to an article by Megan Leonhardt in Fortune, over half of all managers believe that  remote work is on the decline and that most workers will return to offices by the end of 2022.  Leonhardt also reports that about 77% of managers said they’d implement tough measures  (including layoffs and pay cuts) to encourage workers to return to the office.  

Managers obviously recognize the benefits of in-office work. Collaborating remotely can be  difficult. Research by Judith Olson (a professor at the University of California Irvine) and others  indicate that proximity is vital for productivity, especially in industries that are built on worker  collaboration.  

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All in all, while some predict that remote work is here to stay, there’s still plenty of pushback  against the work-from-home setup, and a “Great Return” may very well take place.

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