Has the Return of Remote Workers to the Office Begun?

March 04, 2022 | Kyle Kopp

Do you remember the early days of the pandemic, April, May & June?  Do you recall the constant chatter in forums and news articles about how this was the catalyst that would spark the migration to truly remote workforces and erode the shared office space that’s dominated employee life for the last century?  While remote workers were necessary during lockdown, that may have been premature to announce as permanent, especially for places like Southern California.

As the Summer of 2020 rolled on, more and more of us began to believe that things like gossip at the water cooler and lunchroom birthday serenades had faded into nostalgia.  The large tech firms were announcing left and right that they were abandoning office real estate and formalizing remote work setups.  As the labor market became competitive, small and mid-sized business firms followed suit to entice labor to come and fill their openings.  WeWork, a shared workspace venture, saw interest and sales steadily climb upwards as those now working remote needed someplace to go if apartments or cohabitations didn’t offer a productive space.  For those of us in Southern California, we celebrated the continued and maintained drop in Los Angeles’ famous rush hour traffic times.  I saw my regular hour and a half commute to Orange County plummet to almost half an hour most days.

But suddenly, there seems to be a rift in this brave new world.  My time in traffic has returned.  While it may not be 90 minutes in the morning anymore, 65 and 70 minutes seems to be much more common than they had been.  While co-workspaces continue to increase in number, there’s general rumblings about the long-term projections being as strong as expected, and stocks for these startups have cooled of late.  Tech giants like Google have started to announce a shift in strategy, calling for employees to return to the office as soon as April.  Even the Federal Government is calling the majority of their employees back in the near future based on the latest State of the Union.

So, here’s the question. … are you prepared for your remote workers to return?  Have you tested the light switches and dusted the file cabinets?  Have you restocked the paper towels in the men’s room?  Have you cleaned out that kitchenette fridge?  You may want to pawn that one off on someone else.  What about your office equipment?  Have you had your technician out to make sure it’s up to spec and operating well?  Great.  Now the real questions: have you thought about how you can take advantage of this opportunity to do things better?

As we return to normal, there’s nothing that says we need to do things the same way we did them before.  As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.  Maybe you want to knock down those prairie dog style cubicles and move to an open space concept.  Maybe you want to expand the kitchen and communal spaces to improve employee satisfaction.  Maybe you want to find ways to be more efficient.  Reduce workloads and cost while simultaneous improving results and the bottom line.  This is not a return to the office, it’s a refresh of the work environment, an opportunity to make it better.  This is the office 2.0.  The best thing you can do is to explore the options before you. 

Contact one of our Digital Systems Consultants today and let’s explore the number of ways that we can make your office better than it was when you left it.  Let’s improve how you do business.