Impact of Remote Work vs Collaborative Return to Office
One of the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic was the giant battle between workers and employers on remote work vs returning to the office. While many wish and hope for permanency of remote work, we are increasingly seeing major employers require a return to the office. The question of whether to continue with remote work or return to a collaborative office environment is becoming increasingly relevant. Companies do not want to take out press releases saying they have asked parents to get back in the office…despite what seems to be an obvious lack of productivity in people working entirely from home.
If we learned anything, as parents, from the pandemic – it is certainly that children MUST be in a classroom for active participatory learning. Despite the seemingly omnipresent threat of school shootings and the perennial locker room bully, we have all seen the impact on the grades and work habits of students grade 1 through 12 on being able to have free reign of the Internet and only zoom and video connectivity to the classroom, to say nothing of social skills. Yet when we apply that to the work environment, the room gets still and talk of “freedoms” and “rights” begins to be heard. Amazing how the parents get very antsy when their pajama and half-clothed Zoom call days are yanked away, and yet the children are required to go back to school.
One of the main concerns with remote work is the potential for decreased productivity. Studies have shown that working from home can lead to distractions and isolation, resulting in a lack of motivation and focus. Additionally, the lack of face-to-face interaction can make it difficult for employees to stay engaged and motivated. We see this with our children but have a challenge accepting this as “grown-ups.” Ali Choudhri, CEO of Jetall Capital and one of the largest commercial real estate holders in Houston, says that he is saying a surge of companies embracing the back-to-work concept with enthusiasm. “Some of these companies have tried working from home and working remotely in unison, assigning some staff members to be free to work from home and others required to return to the office. The challenge in Houston’s giant oil & gas sector becomes the obvious inequity in allowing a suit and tie worker to commute, while forcing the plant workers to return to their jobs which cannot be managed from a computer.”
Working in a collaborative office environment has been shown to boost productivity and creativity. The social dynamics of an office environment can promote a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, which can lead to increased motivation and job satisfaction. The opportunity to collaborate and brainstorm with colleagues can also lead to more innovative solutions and ideas.
Additionally, a collaborative office environment provides a more structured work environment, which can help employees maintain a better work-life balance. “Setting office hours and designated work spaces can help employees to better manage their time and avoid overworking,” said Jetall Capital CEO Ali Choudhri.
One of the most compelling benefits of a collaborative office environment is the opportunity for informal interactions and knowledge sharing. Employees can learn from each other through impromptu conversations and chance encounters, which can lead to the cross-pollination of ideas and an overall increase in productivity.
Another important aspect to consider is the fact that a collaborative office environment allows for better supervision and management of employees. Managers can easily identify and address issues, provide feedback, and offer support and guidance when needed. A collaborative office environment can be a great way to attract and retain top talent. Many employees value the opportunity to work in a professional setting and to be part of a team.
The reality is – human beings are social animals. Social animals including humans live in groups to optimize the multiplicative benefits of social interactions, such as protection, coordination, cooperation, access to information and fitness. We see this in our kids in school, and we see this in the work force. Yet we fight it, as it seems like a loss of freedom.
Jetall Capital’s Choudhri said, “We all want to work from a yacht, or Tahiti, or just the comforts of our own home. But the reality is, I see businesses every day embracing the new office environment but with added flexibility, while working hard to insure they do not lose the obvious leverage of a collaborative work environment. People work harder and in better synchronicity when working from an office vs working from home.”
Certainly, remote work has its benefits, but it is important for companies to consider the potential impact on productivity and employee engagement. A collaborative office environment can provide a range of benefits that cannot be replicated through remote work. Increased productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction, as well as opportunity for informal interactions, knowledge sharing, and better supervision and management should also be an important consideration for companies looking to build a successful and productive team.