Let’s Accept It: Neither Office Nor Remote Work Is “Better”
Remote work has increased rapidly, with the pandemic accelerating the adoption of digital transformation plans through nearly every industry. In fact, almost twice as many people work from home than work from an office. As companies make this transition, leaders understandably are trying to figure out whether it’s better to work remotely or stay in office settings.
As explored in a recent Forbes article, you can make some good arguments that office work is better. In-person work can support productivity and stronger relationships, for example.
But the reality is, no two companies or workforces are identical. For instance, although secondary and higher education teachers might be able to conduct online sessions without too much difficulty, elementary teachers can find it impossible, since young students are more easily distracted, usually use hands-on, sensory-oriented tools, and need in-person supervision. In the same way, some work, such as website design, can be done in a more solitary way, whereas other work, such as therapy, requires interaction.
You also have to consider the company culture. Strong relationships can happen as a result of face-to-face interaction, but only assuming that those interactions are positive. If the culture is toxic and employees regularly have to deal with conflict, then all of the benefits normally associated with strong relationships–better confidence, innovation, etc.–are no longer accessible or applicable.
Many leaders go out of their way to create workplaces that are supportive, encouraging, and healthy overall. But workplace toxicity is still a problem in businesses. Almost 1 in 3 workers (29 percent) say they’ve left a job because of workplace conflict. So simply having physical access to your team doesn’t guarantee that workers will be happy, loyal, or able to produce to their maximum potential.
So whether your team should be in person or remote is a matter of goals, personalities and your ability to create a positive atmosphere conducive to connection and collaboration. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. You should feel confident to do something independent from other companies to make all three puzzle pieces seamlessly fit.
Welcome to the world of hybrid work.