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Remote Workers Weigh In: Would you return to working in an office setting?

In a bid to cover some remote worker FAQs, through our new series’ Remote Workers Weigh In’ we’ll be asking our team some of the most asked questions about what it’s really like to be a remote worker. 

When I first started thinking about full-time work again after freelancing for a few years, I felt incredibly torn about potentially having to go back to an office. On the one hand, I was looking forward to some more structure and something to force me out of the house, but on the other, I didn’t really want to give up the freedom to plan my day how I liked. 

Working remotely for Shield turned out to be the best of both worlds, and I remember clearly saying to my husband — “I don’t think I’ll ever go back to an office again!”

Cut to a year later, and I’d moved to another country with less space at home and (at first) less social obligations to get me out of the house. I decided pretty quickly that I needed a place to go each day to work and found a co-working space I liked. Although this didn’t exhibit the normal constraints of an office environment — having to arrive at a certain time, office politics or unnecessary meetings — it did mean I had to commute (which sometimes meant digging my car out of snow!). I liked getting up and getting ready for the day and having friends to talk to at the office. I found it motivating to have others working beside me, and I equally enjoyed some late nights there, working on projects alone. However, my mornings weren’t as slow, and I definitely experienced that rushed feeling getting into the car by a specific time. I also felt as though I missed out on some key moments with my friends and family because I wasn’t home as much. 

When the pandemic hit, I, like many others, opted for working from home full time again. It was much harder than when I’d previously done it in my freelance days because of the lack of space, extra noise and distraction and of course the stresses from the state of the world. However, after some time, and implementing some more structure and planning into my days, it became something I enjoyed again. I had way more time to spend with my husband and our friends. I was doing things I loved, like reading and painting and working out a lot more. 

As my needs and circumstances changed, so did my thinking around working in an office. At times I still agree with my former self — a full corporate 9 – 5 situation isn’t appealing to me at all. But there are still things I miss about leaving my home to work. 

I wondered what my co-workers felt about this dynamic and if it was something they had a definitive answer for, so last week I asked them — would you ever go back to working in an office setting after working remotely for so long? Is there anything that you miss? Here’s what they said.

No, I think once you see the benefits of a home office, it’s hard to think about going back to an office. I would rather instead go to a workshop or co-working space a couple of days a week or spend half a day in a coffee shop or if possible, go to a colleague’s house and work together. You could alternate homes and have breakfast or lunch combined with your daily work. 

— Ernesto Hernandez, Salesforce Quality Assurance / Admin

Probably but not daily. Perhaps once or twice a week for face to face meetings and training. Working remotely for so long made me miss my clothes and makeup. My heels have all but disappeared. It’s more a vanity and socialization thing for me.

— Kim Luy, Global Mobility Termination Consultant

No, I do not miss the politics, 500 emails a day, unproductive and yet constant meetings, corporate inefficiencies, the petty office issues people talk about (someone wearing too much perfume/cologne, poor clothing choices, gossip, complaints about X, etc), the horrendous commute, the dry cleaning bills, never seeing my kids and husband, eating out non-stop, no life. I am a workaholic by nature, but at least by working from home, I can see my family, my pets and take care of them without being so far away. 

— Jennifer Henne, Global Mobility Subject Matter Expert

Yes, I’ve fallen in love with remote work ever since I’ve started with Shield. It gives me the freedom to manage my day, and hopefully return to performing when COVID-19 passes. But I feel that lunches out with colleagues and in-person catchups are very much missed. 

— Laui Guico, Global Mobility Associate

I must say I sometimes miss getting ready, wearing makeup, heels, meeting colleagues and clients, having lunch out, the random office chats etc. However, I do not miss the crowded commute to/from work, the meetings with no conclusion, office gossip, having no time to exercise and no time for family – the good of working from home definitely outweighs the bad. Can’t imagine going back to an office setting!

— Daisy Daswani, Finance Manager (SME)

Yes and no. If I were to go back to working in an office, it would not be in London though and would have to be local, and it would only be for a couple of days a week. I don’t really miss anything from being in an office.

— Katrina Philbin, Global Mobility Team Lead

I would say 10% yes. Who knows where I’ll be 20 years from now. But again, being able to have the flexibility and the saved time from commuting really makes it hard to ever want to go back to an office.

— Rosalyn Kamp, Customer Success Associate

Yes I would but not five days a week. I do miss the social aspect of working with colleagues face-to-face in the office. Most of my friends in Spain (like Karla!) are people I met while at work. 

— Asia Hundley, Customer Success Manager

No, even though I was only averaging three days a week in the office, WFH feels more suitable for my work. But a lunch catchup every few weeks or getting together for an afternoon to work might be good for socializing which does get missed.

— Jacky Lee, Salesforce Developer

I like to have the option of going to an office but I’d never do a full five days a week. Maybe three depending on where I am. I like the change of scene, talking to different people and obviously lunching.

— Duncan Macintosh, Co-Founder of Shield GEO

No, I don’t miss going to the office at all. I’m perfectly fine with working remotely. Not sure if this will change when the baby comes along. Sometimes I think keeping her away from my work area might be difficult when she’s still a toddler. But well, we will see how that will go. I hope there’ll be no need for me to work at a co-working space when she comes along.

Having said this, I’m yet to work from a coffee shop or restaurant, which is something I’ve always thought looks cool. I’d like to try that out sometime. And yes, COVID! 

— Ndulamo Pholi, Head of Finance

Yes, but it would need to be walking distance from my house, and it would need to offer a couple of good places to eat, a gym and nice people to hang out with. And given there aren’t more than a couple of good places to eat within about 10km from my house, let alone having a few grouped together…. it’s unlikely to happen.

— Tim Burgess, Co-Founder of Shield GEO

 

For me, and seemingly most people, it’s not an all or nothing thing. Working from home means a slower pace, freedom to choose how I structure my day, and more time with the people I love. But leaving each morning to go to work means getting to wear fun clothes, listening to podcasts on my commute and an easy opportunity to socialize. 

I think it’s important to reflect and identify what you’re missing and what you love about your current situation. From there, you can experiment with some solutions to see what might fulfill those needs. 

For some that might mean finding a co-working space but maybe only using it one or two days a week, for others, a social Zoom call might be all it takes or carving out some time each morning to go for a walk, so you don’t miss out on those podcasts. It’s ok if a solution doesn’t work out for you — take notes on why, and try something else! Over time, you’ll find something that works for your current season. But always be open to change because our needs rarely stay the same!

 

— Bree Caggiati, October 2020

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