Your boss wants you back in the office despite COVID. Here's why

Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Nearly three-quarters of respondents to a recent survey by international workforce consulting firm Korn Ferry said they would return to the office now if mandated to do so, but 27% said they would refuse to go back in, even part-time, or simply quit.

While 64% said it would make them "happy" to socialize with their co-workers again and nearly half said a return to the office would be good for their mental health, 51% said coming back to the office would have a negative impact on their mental health.

The split on how people feel the office would affect their psychological well-being reflects today's uncertain times, including the waxing and waning pandemic, said Dan Kaplan, a senior partner at Los Angeles-based Korn Ferry.

"Seemingly every day we think we finally have stability, and then we don't," Kaplan said. "Back-to-the-office is caught in the middle of that."

For its part, Korn Ferry will continue to maintain offices, he said, but is not forcing people back to work.

"Our expectations will remain fluid," Kaplan said.


Working in the office with your peers is a boon for your state of mind, asserts Elizabeth Brink, a regional managing principal in the workplace consulting practice at architecture firm Gensler.

"I firmly believe the overall mental health of employees is improved by coming in some of the time," said Brink, who began to return to her Los Angeles office last summer. "Interaction is really critical to mental health."

In a workplace survey last year, Gensler found that workers at top-performing companies prefer the office for a much wider range of activities than workers at unranked companies, including deep concentration, brainstorming and creative tasks.

Gensler defined top-performing companies as those recently ranked on such lists as "most admired, "best places to work" and "most innovative" firms.


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