The Great Work-From-Home Debate Between Employee and Employer
Even now, with the end of 2023 in sight, the work-from-home debate rages on. An almost-incredible 90% of companies plan to have employees back in the office by the end of 2024, according to Resume Builder. On the other hand, the Integrated Benefits Institute reports that 47% of employees would quit if a return were mandated. This dispute can’t be ignored. For every corporate giant that cites a need for in-person collaboration (Apple, Starbucks, and Citigroup, for example), there are employees in the fold who push back.
It’s not just the major players, either—across the board, the job market for remote workers appears to be shrinking, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. If you looked at job postings on LinkedIn in March of 2022, you would have seen that 20.6% of them were remote. That number dwindled to 13.2% by December of the same year. And in May of 2023, remote jobs accounted for a paltry 8.4% of total listings on Indeed.
The remote-work-fueled tension between employee and employer shows no signs of dissipating. But who’s right in this argument? Who’s making the better point? Let’s examine the motivations and reservations on both sides of the continuing work-from-home debate.
For many white collar or knowledge workers, it’s a question of time and personal satisfaction. Some workers feel that the only thing they gain in returning to the office is a lengthy commute. Those that were initially excited to return to work find that it’s just not the same as before the pandemic. The camaraderie and connection they enjoyed now feels strained and tenuous. On top of that, many companies are cutting back on office amenities, which did little to incentivize employees in the first place.
And then there’s the question of logistics. In a survey conducted by workplace platform Robin, 64% of respondents said they would be more likely to go to the office if they knew their team would be there. Unfortunately, in hybrid situations that split the difference between work-from-home and on-premises work, many find it difficult to coordinate facetime with team members. If you’re in the office but still need to video conference with the rest of your team, what’s the benefit of sitting in traffic to get back to your cubicle?
The choice to get back to work in a more traditional setting goes beyond stubbornness or outdated modes of thinking. Perhaps unsurprisingly, employers cite a high-level loss of control when defending their decisions to call employees back to the office. Some bosses have noted that workers have become emboldened to push back on initiatives while working from home. This may be a natural occurrence spurred by a new generation joining the workforce, but in any case, it makes any sort of shared progress more difficult.
Many employers have noticed an erosion of their corporate culture as a result of working from home. If you’re among those who believe culture is the differentiator that matters most, this is an especially troubling development. Other dynamics seem to be dwindling, too. It’s difficult to recreate the sort of on-the-job training we all enjoyed pre-pandemic in our current virtual setting. When people sit down together, they tend to learn more in a shorter span of time, ensuring that legacy information gets passed to future leaders. The ability to collaborate in real time and quickly move on decisions is impacted by the lack of in-office time together, a harsh reality that is underscored with every Teams glitch and Wi-Fi outage.
Meeting in the Middle
So who exactly is making the better points? It’s difficult to judge who’s wrong and who’s right with such compelling arguments on either side. In 2023, finding solutions that suit everyone across an organization depends on paying more attention to individual needs—and taking them seriously. All of us have optimal environments that will empower us to be our best selves at work. Some extroverted employees thrive on personal interaction in the office to fuel their goals and ambitions. The introverts on the other end of the spectrum will require more alone time to reflect on what needs to get done. And, of course, most people fall somewhere in between, looking to find some semblance of regularity in a hybrid scenario that’s tailored to our schedules and lifestyles.
If you find yourself caught in the middle of the great work-from-home debate, don’t fret. Find yourself a recruiting partner who understands your unique needs and preferences. Regardless of what side of the argument you fall on, it’s possible to find a curated opportunity that aligns with your values. Specialized staffing firms like FORTIS are here to advocate on your behalf, taking your motivations to heart and reconciling them with the ever-changing job market. Let’s keep this in mind as we all move forward together.
Discover Southern California recruiters who care about your unique workplace needs. Reach out to FORTIS today.