Balancing the Return to Office with Remote Work Sentiments

August 04, 2021

By: Ariella Azizi-Mikail, Intern and Matthew R. Kerzner, PhD., Director

If you’re feeling hesitant to return to the office, you’re not alone. Robert Half, a global staffing firm, reports that 49 percent of employees are feeling uncertain about going back into an office. According to the same report, 34 percent of employees said that they would look elsewhere for work if required to return to the office.

Accounting Today recently interviewed executives from various companies on their varying ideas and proposed practices. The resulting data exhibited flexible company policies with the ultimate vision of a gradual return to the office. Some companies are proposing a hybrid model with a required minimum of in office workdays, while others are seeking to entice their employees to return by their own volition. The latter seek to popularize the notion of returning to office by offering exclusive in office perks. Whether through weekly happy hours, employee lunches, or even the simple privilege of reuniting with colleagues in person, companies are seeking to pull instead of push their employees back through their doors.

When considering these policies, many wonder if there is even a need to return to the office at all. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a quarter of all employed in August of 2020 worked remotely. In a separate article, the BLS reported that jobs relating to “financial activities'' were most conducive to remote work. So why are employers so eager to return to the office when the same can be done from home?

The answer to this enigma lies in employee data. Robert Half’s survey indicated that the top concern of remote only work is the perceived difficulty in forming close relationships with colleagues. This fear especially targets new employees where remote work excludes them of the opportunity to receive guidance in person when navigating a new work arena. So while working from home was effective for the past year and a half, companies are hoping to encourage employees that the ability to create these in person working relationships are worth the return to a more traditional work setting

When standing at a crossroads as we do now, it’s important to remember what we’ve gained in the past, while also remaining open to new circumstances. There is much that we have learned from having the opportunity to work from home, and there is still a tremendous amount to gain by returning to the office.

About Matthew Kerzner

Matthew Kerzner is a Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence. Matt has more than 25 years of experience in organizational development with a specialization in assisting family businesses and closely held businesses.