People have been predicting the end of the office since the invention of Wi-Fi and laptops. Today, people are suggesting the office will go away as companies fully embrace work from home as a way to give people greater flexibility. During the COVID crisis, anyone who could work from home did and, for a while, many people thought it worked pretty well. But after months of living on video, the novelty has worn off. The vast majority of us – 88-90% depending on the study – want to work in an office again.
So why are we still having conversations about the office going away?
There are three common misconceptions that continue to fuel the notion that exclusively working from home makes sense for everyone.
“It costs less to have people work from home.”
It’s true that reducing real estate and other related workplace amenities can save money. But there are hidden costs to consider before sending people home full time.
“People are just as (or more) productive at home as they are in the office.”
That depends on how you define productivity. Some forms of working are easily accomplished at home. But true productivity of knowledge workers relating to creativity, innovation and transformation are notoriously difficult to measure in the short-run — particularly during a pandemic — and incredibly hard to accomplish virtually.
“People who work from home have a better work-life balance.”
Work from home has its benefits — no commute, comfy clothes and more time with family or pets. But data reveals it also comes with its own set of tradeoffs.
So, what is the future of work and the workplace? It’s not a return to the status-quo nor is it an extreme solution predicated by aggressive cost-reduction. A new approach to the workplace is required – one that is compelling and safe for employees and smart for the business.