Before, going to the office to work was the norm and obligatory for most people. There was hardly any home office. In 2020, a boom happened: due to the corona pandemic, most companies were forced to switch to home office and their employees experienced the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. Now normality is increasingly returning. But it won’t be like it was before, will it?
Home office due to Corona
Working from home has brought many advantages and disadvantages. At the beginning of 2020, this way of working was unusual for everyone. At the beginning, there were many difficulties due to the short-term restructuring and absences due to Covid. Over time, however, both companies and employees have adapted working from their homes, and it seems that most of them enjoy it – at least to a certain extent. The scepticism that prevailed at the beginning of the pandemic increasingly declined. And everyday life changed . “Getting dressed up for work” has turned into “sitting in front of the laptop in sweatpants”. The commute to work was eliminated, saving not only time but also costs. The time saved could be used for the kids or partner, and the pets were happy to have their owners around permanently.
On the other hand, many lacked the social contacts in the office. The home office reminds us of the times when seeing our loved ones was prohibited. But even after the Corona measures were dropped, people kept missing the contact with their work colleagues. A chat during the coffee break or short visits at the offices. Moreover, the lack of separation between private and professional life was the doom of many. Overtime or the repeated checking of emails after work became a common thing. Moreover, the home office usually does not offer an ideal working atmosphere. Children demanding attention or a room that is used both for working and sleeping lead to less motivation and unproductive work.
Now, after almost two years, the home office obligation in Germany has ended. What are the consequences of this, and is it really necessary to go back to the offices?
Back to the office?
Not only was the home office obligation dropped, but also the many additional measures at the workplace. Soon workers will fill the deserted offices again. Despite the rising Corona numbers, companies now have the choice of continuing to offer home office or returning to compulsory office attendance. On-site, staff performance is easier to evaluate and task coordination is easier. Nevertheless, the long period of home office has led employers themselves to become used to this flexible form of working and to offer hybrid working in the future. This way, everyone is free to decide when they want to work from home and when they want to come to the office.
What will the daily office routine look like in the future?
Everyday life in the office as it once was will no longer exist. As mentioned before, hybrid working has become the main trend right now. The working model offers many advantages, both during a phase of adjustment and on a permanent basis.
There are some factors to consider when deciding whether it is necessary for your team to return to the office. Consider which tasks require the team to come together. Do these tasks work out online or does working together on site make it easier? Where does the team work most effectively? At home or in the office? Surveys can help to find out what your employees think.
Consider what might motivate staff to come back to the office. A universal compulsion to come to the office five days a week could backfire. For many, the renewed adjustment can be just as difficult as the switch to the home office in 2020. Humans are creatures of habit. A flexible working week should ease the adjustment. After all, the motivation of the employees should remain high and the desire to work in the office should return on its own. The employees will quickly notice the benefits they get from the social interaction and the working atmosphere. Ultimately, however, it remains the employer’s decision. And if the nature of the occupation requires it, it is legitimate to ask for a return to the office.
If you are not satisfied with the current solution, talk to your manager. They certainly understand that you still feel uncomfortable working in a crowded space. For many, it is not easy to change the daily routine they have gotten used to over the past two years.
Everyday life as it was before the pandemic will no longer exist. The return to the offices is an adjustment for everyone, and should be approached with patience. Flexible working days in the home office should be offered – especially at the beginning. Hybrid working and open communication help everyone involved to get back into the daily routine.