Since march 2020, most of us have been working from home. But now that the end of the pandemic is getting closer and closer, things are starting to slowly turn back to normal. Meaning that many either have returned to the office, or they are expected to return soon. Normal day routines aren't what they used to be, and now workers have to change it up once again. Some workers actually liked working from their house, while others didn’t and are now excited to return.
As said, lots of people enjoyed working from home. The reason for this is that you avoid commuting back and forth every day, which saves a lot of time on a daily basis. Besides, there's also the thing about not having the usual office distractions. Without these distractions, there's a better opportunity to focus on getting your work done. In a home office, the possibility of choosing your own setting is quite appealing for most. So, if you want to work from the kitchen table, your bed etc. you have that option. The working-from-home arrangement gives you the opportunity to create a better work-life balance, where you can see your family more often and are just in general a bit more flexible.
There are definitely downsides to working from a home office. Some people find a lack of structure in their day as a big hassle when it comes to working from home. They need the routines of working when you're at work, and relaxing when at home.
Furthermore, there's the social, and perhaps the most important, aspect of it. Humans are social creatures, which means social interactions are important to us. By being isolated from other people, there are serious health risks that can strike you. Research has shown the mortality of being socially isolated is like smoking 15 cigarettes a day. There is also the risk for older people to develop dangerous medical conditions, from Alzheimer's to cardiac conditions. This is just some of the physical health risks of being socially isolated for longer periods.
But there are also psychological risks of isolation. Anxiety and depression have been linked to longer social isolation periods. When you’re talking to a person face-to-face, the brain releases the feel-good chemical oxytocin. These are only some of the psychological impacts social isolation has on us.
We’ve gone through the good and bad things about the home office, but there are also benefits of returning to the office.
At the office you create a kind of community with your coworkers. This is where you feel connected, united, and accepted by your people. Social identity is what gets created at the office with your coworkers. As mentioned above, there are a lot of health benefits to working at the office with your coworkers. But it isn't only health benefits that come from working at the office.
The performance benefits are clear at the office. When talking, socializing and connecting with others, they tend to improve the mental function of their brain. Your performance tends to increase when you're with others that you can compare yourself with, which means that when teams work together in dedicated workrooms, they perform better. So, when one team member performs well, it makes other team members perform better too.
People tend to notice what is right in front of them, which means that when people work at the office it makes the bosses see the performance every day, which could improve your career. So, being in the office could help you build your social capital and help others improve, which makes them trust you as their coworker.
Workers have learned to work differently, since they started working from home. This means that people have developed their own routines in their home offices. Because of this, leaders need to communicate with their workers to figure out the best way to create a good work environment at the office. Workers have been in control of their own schedule for over a year now. This means that there is a new issue with control that leaders have to think about. Some people aren’t excited about setting an earlier alarm clock for work and having to change up their routines for the out-of-home office.
To bring people back to the office, a great leadership is necessary. Workers have depended on themselves for over a year, which also means that the leadership has to be understanding of the situation; otherwise the communication with their workers will break.
As a starting point, empathy is really important when it comes to leadership at the office. Meaning that it is important to communicate, listen and try to understand how the employees feel about returning to the office. Every worker has a different need since they’ve been working from home on their own terms for so long. By showing empathy, it makes the employees feel supported and important.
Besides, empathy, purpose is really important to show the employees. Since workers have learned to work from home, many don't see the purpose of returning to the office. But as a leader it's important to show that purpose to the employees and make them understand the importance of being at the office and the work they do there. Show them the energy of the company's work and their mission to make the employees feel the purpose. Those leaders who give the employees a purpose in their work are those who make them perform their best.
To get employees to return to the office, it's important to create a positive environment, so it makes you feel welcome at the office. So by creating a good work environment, it attracts the employees back to the office.
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