Just when we got comfortable working from home, the shift back to the office has begun.
In a recent virtual company meeting, my coworkers gave multiple reasons why they wanted to continue working from home full time — everything from gas prices to being an introvert to owning needy dogs that would miss them if they had to go back into the office.
Like many, the company I work for is taking a hybrid approach. I think that is a fair compromise. As RTO (return to office) replaces WFH (work from home), here are some reasons you should want to go back — at least a few days a month.
Better Work Relationships.
Even when we were in the office full time, I had coworkers in other countries. When I traveled and met them face-to-face, our relationship changed for the better. Every. Single. Time.
Opportunity For Better Mentoring.
Last week, I went into the office and had a (gasp) elevator conversation with a sales manager. He said mentoring his team members is 100% more effective in person. It’s easier to listen to their calls and coach them face-to-face. If you’re looking for career growth, finding and establishing a relationship with a mentor not on your team while you are in the office is easier.
Improved Mental Health.
There are countless articles, including this one, which cite research studies that show many WFH people suffer from loneliness and isolation, anxiety, stress, and depression. We are social beings — even introverts.
Clearer Work Boundaries.
These lines have been blurred for a while with easy access to email on smartphones, but with workspace setups at home, the expectation for essentially 24/7 access has grown. Jump on a 6:00 a.m. call to accommodate a team or customer in Europe, and next thing you know, it’s 6:00 p.m., and you are still in your pajamas.
I’ve had the opportunity lately to have actual in-office meetings, and I have to say it’s nice to have a meeting where there aren’t kids running around, dogs barking, birds singing, doorbells ringing, leaf blowers blasting, and the other myriad of distractions. People are also not turning off their video and multi-tasking, so you don’t have to repeat questions and information because people are not fully engaged in the meeting.
Like it or not, many managers still spend their days imagining how you’re at home playing with your kids or binge-watching the latest Netflix series, no matter how available you are online. Seeing you at your desk reassures them that you are a real person doing real work.
It has been way too easy for people to disappear online. If someone doesn’t respond to your emails or chat messages, you don’t have many options beyond continuing to message them. In the office, you can casually walk by someone’s desk and say, “Oh hey! You ARE in the office. About those five emails that I’ve sent you…”
For me, it’s like working out. I dread it, but I know it’s good for me. When I do it, I feel much better afterward and wonder why I don’t do it more often.
If your company leaders have made the business decision to request people to RTO, even part-time, give yourself a chance to get used to the new, new norm. The benefits are clear. And you might find you actually like it.
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