Returning to the Office – A Resurgence?

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In a significant shift from remote work trends, 90% of companies plan to implement return-to-office policies by the end of 2024, as revealed in a Resume Builder report. This marks a distinct change in the corporate world’s approach to work arrangements.

While the traditional 5-day office week seems to be a relic of the past, the emphasis on returning to the office is gaining momentum. Tech giants like Goldman Sachs and Google are leading this change, with Goldman Sachs advocating for a five-day office week and Google incorporating in-office attendance into employee performance reviews.

The Future of Work-from-Home Perks

The trend towards returning to the office is becoming evident. The Covid-19 pandemic had popularized remote work, particularly for desk-bound employees. However, in 2024, there is a growing expectation for more consistent office attendance.

While working from home remains a sought-after job perk, a significant shift is underway. Some companies are even tying bonuses and performance evaluations to in-office attendance.

It’s estimated that around 60-70% of workers, including those in roles like medical staff and tradespeople, cannot perform their duties remotely.

Returning to the office has never been an option, as they never left. Therefore, the move back to the office will predominantly affect desk-bound workers, as discussed in this Fortune article.

Keep in mind the situation of many technically skilled workers who need the use of special equipment. For example, those in the post-production industry who require specific tools to complete their work either made huge investments to working from home or continued with in-office participation.

The Debate Continues

Despite the growing push for employees returning to the office, the debate is far from settled. Many CEOs express concern over remote work’s impact on productivity, collaboration, and employee engagement.

Senior client partner at Korn Ferry, Dan Kaplan, notes that many executives find it challenging to move away from traditional office-based work models.

However, office occupancy rates suggest that the transition back to the office is gradual. Kastle Systems data indicates that office occupancy in major US cities is still below pre-pandemic levels.

The Rationale Behind Returning to the Office

Worker returning to the office

The inclination towards office work stems from various factors. Kaplan points out that many companies hold onto in-person schedules for reasons more emotional than intellectual.

A Korn Ferry survey highlights that a significant number of executives believe corporate culture, which greatly influences a company’s market value, thrives when employees share a common workspace.

Moreover, CEOs like Amazon’s Andy Jassy argue that in-office work enhances productivity and strengthens company culture.

Why do people want to return to the office?

  1. Enhanced Collaboration and Creativity: Physical office environments foster spontaneous interactions and brainstorming sessions that are less feasible in remote settings.
  2. Improved Employee Engagement and Company Culture: In-person work helps build a strong company culture, which is crucial for employee engagement. A Korn Ferry survey reveals that two-thirds of global executives believe corporate culture, accounting for more than 30% of a company’s market value, thrives in a shared physical workspace.
  3. Better Supervision and Productivity Management: The office setting allows for more effective supervision and guidance from managers. Workers can feel more productive at the office due to fewer distractions and better managerial support.
  4. Networking and Professional Development Opportunities: Offices provide a platform for networking and professional growth through face-to-face interactions. The LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report states that 85% of professionals consider networking within the office a key element for career progression.
  5. Enhanced Mental Health and Work-Life Balance: Regular office attendance can contribute to a healthier work-life balance by establishing clear boundaries between professional and personal life. Don’t underestimate the physical separation of work and home spaces to reduce work-related stress.

The Hybrid Work Model: A New Norm

Despite the push for office returns, the five-day office week is increasingly viewed as outdated. Workplace experts suggest that most organizations will adopt a hybrid model, balancing in-office and remote work with a shorter week.

This approach addresses the preferences of a majority of full-time workers who favor a hybrid schedule, as per a Bankrate survey. Such a model offers flexibility and acknowledges the changing dynamics of the modern workforce.

Employee Preferences and Incentives

Some companies are revising their in-office requirements. However there’s a noticeable gap in addressing employee preferences.

Surveys by NORC at the University of Chicago indicate that only a small percentage of companies have introduced incentives to make in-office work more appealing. Employees prioritize flexibility, work-life balance, and reduced commuting costs.

To effectively encourage in-office work, companies might need to offer more tangible incentives such as additional pay, commuter benefits, and in-office childcare.

The Future of Office Work

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The trend indicates a gradual shift back to in-person work, albeit not to pre-pandemic levels. The hybrid work model seems to be gaining popularity, balancing the benefits of returning to the office and remote work.

This model is expected to evolve, with considerations for a shorter week and incentives for participation shaping the future of work.

For businesses looking to adapt to these changing trends, Interoffices offers a range of solutions.

From private offices to registered business addresses, our network across locations like Brussels Airport Corporate Village and Antwerp East provides flexible, hybrid-friendly workspaces.

Explore our Turnhout, Brussels Expo, and other locations to find the perfect fit for your evolving work needs.

Interoffices remains committed to providing workspaces that cater to the diverse needs of businesses and employees.

Whether it’s for collaboration, productivity, or fostering company culture, our locations across the Interoffices network are designed to support the dynamic nature of today’s workforce.