Beach or Office, That is the Question

While there hasn’t been much that was great about Covid, there were some silver linings. One silver lining is that some employees and some companies discovered that work could be done in places other than a brick and mortar building.

Clearly, there are many professions that must return to the workplace. Brain surgeons, pilots, hairdressers, and restaurant workers, just to name a few. But, what about the office workers? Should all of them return five days a week? Should employees split their time between home and office? Should some return but not others, or should everyone work from home?

During the Pandemic Versus Post-Pandemic

As leaders are contemplating this decision, be advised that working from home during a pandemic is much more challenging than working from home will be post-pandemic. First of all, there has been a tremendous amount of stress and uncertainty brought on by the disease and experienced by almost everyone.  

Childcare and Working From Home

Second, for working parents and working caregivers, the pandemic upended existing caregiving arrangements. During the pandemic, childcare collapsed. Children previously at school all day were suddenly home for remote learning. Young children in daycare were sent home, and even those with private caregiving arrangements suddenly found themselves making different and difficult decisions to preserve the health and safety of their family.

As our communities open back up, childcare is reopening as well, and in-person learning is returning. Working from home while our children are safely learning and playing out of the home or in another appropriate situation is far different than working from home during a pandemic. This cannot be understated.

Manager Discretion

Several companies are leaving it up to managers to decide. I have never seen this work well and it opens the door for discrimination and equity issues. Why does Angela in marketing need to come in every day but Sahid in accounting doesn’t? If it’s only because Sahid has to pick up his kids from school, then the organization has just created its own equity issue.


Most employees are requesting a hybrid situation. They would like the flexibility that comes from working from home for 2-3 days a week, and also the mentorship and collaboration that is gained from being in the office the other 2-3 days a week. And no, let me be clear, they don’t want to start working 6 days a week!

While this sounds great in theory, it requires flexibility in work spaces as well. Brick and mortar building costs are expensive, and if they are routinely at only two-thirds capacity, that’s unnecessarily costly. Likewise, if managers come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays and employees come on Mondays and Wednesdays, well, collaboration just went out the door.

So, how can you find the right fit for your organization? Hopefully some of the articles below will help you identify your specific needs and possible solutions. Of course, if you choose to check in with your employees, you should be prepared to make some of the changes that they recommend rather than just continuing with the work arrangement you established. There’s nothing worse for culture than to ask employees, receive a clear directive, and still go in a different direction.  

Return to Work but Not Return to Normal
Back to the Workplace: How to Plan Your Reopening
As Offices Reopen, Hybrid Onsite and Remote Work Becomes Routine
Employees Could be Heading Back to the Office Sooner Than They Think

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