Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Perfect Return To Office Plan

Return to office plans seem to be a hot topic these days. What’s interesting is how different peoples’ perspectives are on the subject. 

On the one hand, you’ve got the folks who are just itching to go back to the way things were BC (Before COVID).  Working from the dining room, garage, basement, laundry room, etc. was a special kind of treat. But after almost two years, the novelty has worn off and they can’t wait to get back to their cube or office where they don’t have to shout above the rinse cycle to be heard on a Zoom call.  Even more than the space and the privacy, many people talk about how they miss the comradery, the ability to interact informally with their colleagues in a manner that doesn’t require you to schedule an appointment.  “The way things were” has a certain appeal in a time when the tectonic plates of our lives are shifting so dramatically and constantly that many of us are feeling unmoored. 


On the other side, you have the segment of people who have no desire to return to the way things were BC. Working from home basically amounted to them getting a raise — by eliminating (or reducing) a ton of expenses from their lives. No more commuting expense or paying to park at the train station, money spent on wardrobe, shoes and dry cleaning was vastly reduced when you’re wearing sweatpants and flip-flops every day, and even food costs have gone done because it’s much cheaper to eat lunch at home than at a restaurant or the corner deli. Add to that the amount of time people save by not commuting - they have literally gained hours every week. And talk about efficiency— no longer do you need to wait until the weekend to do your laundry. They’re baking their own bread and sharing meals with family members more than ever before. All of this, they argue, came without a loss in productivity or work quality for their employers. Their lives got BETTER over the past two years and there’s simply no reason to go back to “The way things used to be” just because they used to be that way. 


I think it boils down to there not really being a “one size fits all” approach to the return to office situations that will arise in the new year.  At the end of the day, I think “flexibility” will be the best plan of all.




  1. I'm hybrid now and it's weird. Like we have a minimum of people in the office and you have to stay alone in your office and still be on Zoom and keep the mask on all day and not eat around other people. It ain't "back to normal."

  2. I quit my job in July. The (HQ-dictated) plan was have everyone come in 2 days/week starting in September, but the (region-dictated) addition was that everyone would come in on the same 2 days (to facilitate collaboration). On top of that, HQ decided to drop the region from 2.5 buildings down to 1 (because people were only going to be there 40% of the time). So... everyone was going to be crammed into a tiny space two days every week.

    There were a lot of other factors that went into my decision (primarily the 65-mile one-way commute), but that planned return-to-office setup made it a lot easier to pull the ripcord.

  3. My company still hasn't returned to the office. Back in the fall our CEO announced that we would be returning in November and reaffirmed that "we are an in-person shop," and then a week later he sent out a video to all of us saying "Please don't start looking for a new job! We hear you loud and clear, flexibility is going to be the name of the game moving forward." This is primarily the tech employees, and there are a lot of us. For myself, none of my actual work is done with people who are in the same office where I have a desk. I wouldn't mind going back occasionally as long as my work friends are there to have lunch with, but there's really no reason why I need to be in the office, and I have zero desire to have a 30-minute commute on each end of my work day.