Dries Buytaert

The road back to the office

I've now been living at work working from home for almost one year.

Before the pandemic, I often spent three hours a day commuting. Now, I'm using these three hours to spend more time with family, become more successful at my job, and work out more. For those reasons, I prefer not to return to an office.

Many aspects of work function much better when people are face-to-face. In addition, I miss the in-person interactions with my colleagues and the camaraderie that comes from working together in person. For those reasons, I can't wait to go back to the office.

Given that I really like both, my personal preference is for work to be "hybrid". Do individual work from home, but go into an office for collaborative work.

Not everyone experiences the same advantages and disadvantages. My personal preference isn't necessarily best for everyone. As an employer, the pandemic has helped me better understand that people's life routines can be very different. For some, working from home has a negative impact on motivation, productivity and mental health. For others, it has been very positive and more productive.

I wouldn't be surprised if 1/3 would prefer not to return to an office, 1/3 would like to go back to the old normal, and the remaining 1/3 would like a hybrid approach where they can work from home a few days a week.

In the coming months, employers will be revisiting their "Work From Home" policies. In turn, employees will need to decide if they can align and readjust to their employer's updated policy. There are a lot of complexities to think through, both for employers and employees alike.

In the end, people will be more thoughtful about the workplace arrangement that best fits their life. On one hand, that is healthy. On the other hand, many people don't have the privilege to choose. The privileged will likely get more privileged (myself included).

I hope that we approach this workplace transformation with an open mind, empathy, and equity. It's important to consider how both corporate policies and individual choices impact people.

— Dries Buytaert

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