People started working from home a long time ago. Bringing home a briefcase full of documents was replaced with bringing home your laptop. Cell phones made many people available virtually around the clock. And since the internet became ubiquitous and fast, you can now connect to the office via a VPN and access the office network. So ever so subtly, it became the new norm. The pandemic accelerated the pace when many people were forced to work from home.
As with everything, it’s a spectrum – one the one side, people are productive when left to work unsupervised, on the other side, they are not. Managers and supervisors need to determine where in this spectrum their staff lies. Students and trainees (and of course their mentors and managers) will have to spend more time at the office.
For and against. (Wild generalizations) Extroverts get their energy from people, so they are more likely to want to go back to an office bustling with energy. Introverts like being alone – so are more likely to be happy to work alone. Many people work more hours from home than they would from the office. There are fewer distractions when you work from home, and many people use their commute time to work.
With modern communication, most people can work from home / anywhere as we have seen during the pandemic. The final outcome will probably be a hybrid scenario where people spend various amounts of time at the office. The old paradigm of having a body in a chair is just that – the old paradigm. Very few people are going to miss the daily commute. Especially the people with long commutes and terrible traffic.
Expecting of people to return to the office will certainly be met with varying degrees of resistance. Let’s see: Who don’t want to go – Introverts who can work from home and who has a long commute to the office. Who would want to go? Extroverts who live close to the office.
This brings us to the office space reduction part
Let’s say 20% of the staff need to be at the office permanently, and to keep it simple, the other 80% need or want to be at the office 2 days a week or 40% of the time (Assume a sliding scale where some people are there more and some less, but it averages out on 2 day a week for the 80%)
Suddenly, you need 20% plus 40% of the 80% which works out to 52% of your current office space. Let’s say your office has a staff compliment of 100. 20% is 20 people and 40% of 80 people is 32) Meaning you only need (roughly) half your office space. Having the 80% of your staff in the office for one day a week, it drops your space requirement to 36%. Now please pull out your calculators and spreadsheets, take the amount you pay for office rental (Add electricity, coffee, cleaning and so on) and calculate what you can save per month. (Then, multiply by 12 and then by 5 to see how much you will save in 5 years)