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Carla Fried: Who’s ready to go back to the office?

Carla Fried, on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Nearly one in three execs (29%) thought three days a week in the office was enough real face time. Another 15% put it at two days and 5% said one day a week was enough. Let that sink in: Nearly half of managers are on board with reducing the commuting schlep to three days a week or less.

In the same survey, just 8% of workers are interested in being office-bound five days a week; 29% want to work remotely all five days. Among all workers, 75% said they want to be able to work at home at least two days a week.

Remote: The new hot bennie

Given we’ve just live-tested the feasibility of work-from-home, and management is on record that the bottom line did just fine, it’s sure to accelerate the conversation about codifying remote work as a standard work benefit.

In a recent poll of 1,000 office workers by LiveCareer, 29% said they will quit if they are required to return to the office, and 62% said that in the future, remote-work policy will be a consideration in a career.

That said, if you’re loving remote work, you might want to calibrate your desire to always be remote, vs. some career practicalities. For starters, if you have colleagues who will be in the office from time to time (including your manager), never showing up puts you at a disadvantage.

Sure, you’re productive. Sure, you’re valued. But literal — not just virtual — face time has its upside. In the same LiveCareer poll, 50% said they don’t get as much feedback when working remotely, and one in four said communications with their manager and colleagues took a hit. Nearly one in five thought their odds of getting a promotion had decreased.


The near-term tricky conversation: safety

How will management and workers navigate a workplace where not everyone will be vaccinated?

Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers are on firm ground if they want to mandate vaccination, though they should be open to medical and religious exceptions. That said, it’s not likely firms want to be in this position.

During the road out of the pandemic, it may come down to many employers leaving it up to workers to decide their comfort level being in a mixed office space. Back in the early fall, the consulting firm KPMG surveyed senior executives of 100 big companies (annual revenue of at least $1 billion), and 82% said they would leave it to employees to decide when they are ready to haul it back to the office.

That’s encouraging. But at the end of the day, each of us is going to need to carefully read the tea leaves at our employer, and for our individual manager. It remains to be seen if once schools reopen, employers will be as open to letting employees call the shots on when (and how often) they get back to the office.

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