Continue To Work From Home, Or Return To Work?

Will People Continue To Work From Home, Or Will They Return To Work?

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw a massive uptake in work-from-home and remote working. It was forecasted that 25-30% of the US workforce would at least partially work from home following the pandemic. Until recently, it seemed traditional workplaces were a thing of the past. So, what’s changed?

Energy Prices

Particularly in Europe, energy prices have reached unprecedented levels. It is estimated that a person working from home uses 21% more gas than someone working out of home. Many workers have gone back to the office to cut down on costs.

In a study by Infogrid, it was found 74% of Americans are concerned about how rising energy bills will affect their work from home.

With this in mind, it makes sense to reduce personal energy bills by returning to the office or using a co-working space. However, the rise in energy costs has also increased the fuel price for commuters. So unless sufficient public transport routes are available, many workers may take a hit on their finances either way.

Elon Musk Bans Work From Home At Twitter

Two things are for sure in this world, taxes and Elon Musk making headlines. The world’s richest man recently acquired Twitter and instantly began making significant changes to the company’s structure. Most notably, privatizing the company and firing over 4000 members of its workforce.

But one change that went slightly under the radar was banning working from home. Musk has always preferred workers to be on-site daily, as seen in his other companies, Tesla and SpaceX.

The new Twitter CEO stated:

 “The more senior you are, the more visible your presence must be. That is why I lived in the factory so much — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.”

Twitter is a company that, even with its mass adoption, has struggled financially in recent years. Elon Musk has plans to streamline the company and boost its productivity. The recent changes made by the CEO also come at a time when the world is struggling economically, and measures must be taken to maximize results from business spending.

If Musk’s other companies are anything to go by, Twitter is likely on track to reshape the standards tech companies work to. This can already be seen with Facebook following in Twitter’s steps and conducting their own mass firings.

Survey Shows Bosses Find Work From Home Less Productive

A survey carried out by Microsoft found that 80% of bosses deemed operations to be less productive when working from home. The survey has a contradictory conclusion: although metrics (such as the number of weekly meetings) show an increase in productivity, bosses think employees are only working to “look” productive.

This comes simultaneous to the quiet quitting phenomenon – where employees are collectively beginning to reduce their output to only what they are contracted to do. This new movement focuses on doing only what is required and nothing more. Although this may seem ordinary, the “bare minimum” culture emerging from it concerns bosses.

With this in mind, it is easy to understand employers’ concerns that employees may be gaming the system through the work-from-home lifestyle. So far, the work-from-home trend is continuing in most companies. Nonetheless, with this new recognition of its negative effects, we may see a mass return to office movement in the future.

Studies Reveal The Negative Mental Effects Of Work From Home

Besides the potential counter-productiveness of the work-from-home experiment, researchers have also found that it can lead to burnout and isolation for employees. A study from my lab at Simon Fraser University found that loneliness and a lack of support caused by working at home were detrimental to employees’ mental health.

Working from home has its downfalls. It is still yet to be determined whether workers will continue to return to the office. Currently, the general consensus still regards work from home to be more popular.  Howeverl, with the negative mental health cost and counterproductiveness, the pendulum may soon swing the opposite way.