A Return to the Office: Why It Will Happen and Why It's So Important

Over the last year, working remotely has become the norm for our day-to-day lives. But despite this unexpected transition and the overwhelming sentiment that “the office is dead,” it’s become clear that there will be a return to the office. That said, while we cannot say with complete certainty what the post-pandemic office world will look like, we do know it will look a bit different. There will be differences on a handful of fronts, including market data like leasing volume and occupancy levels, to how the downtown area will get back into the swing of things with popular spots like gyms, restaurants, and train stations to how we support the returning wave of office workers. But if there’s one thing that’s safe to say, it's that the office will be back, it just might look and be used differently than is has historically. Here’s a look at why that return will happen, and why it is so important to many organization's livelihood.

Your Home is Not Your Office

Since most people were unexpectedly thrown into remote work when the pandemic hit last March, they were not thinking about cultivating productive workspaces at home. Instead, they relied on what was already there, whether it was a vacant spare bedroom or a quiet basement. While some people have found this to be successful, it's been exceedingly challenging for others. This is particularly the case for some workers, who may find themselves in cramped city apartments with multiple roommates. It’s one thing if you have a private home office setup that allows you to close the door for conference calls and Zooms but living in a 150-square-foot bedroom and rolling over to sit at your desk for nine hours a day is not very sustainable.

Working Your Way Up

Working your way up the professional ladder is an important goal in any professional career. Unfortunately, it cannot be done as effectively when you're working remotely. Consider attorneys fresh out of law school who hope to become a partner at the firm one day. Are they able to navigate the professional ladder when all their interactions exist over Zoom? Even in 2021, people rely on professional mentors and inter-office interactions to create organic relationship building with their colleagues. But gaining that full trust of others and demonstrating your vast capabilities isn't the same when you're behind a computer screen all day long. The face-to-face element is vital and giving up the office entirely won’t help this flourish. Simply put, this is something remote work will never be able to replace.

Creating a Work/Life Balance

While some people enjoy working entirely from home, there are many who rely on the daily routine of leaving the house, heading to the gym, and grabbing a coffee at their go-to spot. It creates a sense of separation from a busy home life and establishes a structure to your daily routine. But one common complaint about working remotely is how it muddles the lines between work and home life. The lines are blurred, and successful social interaction has taken a significant hit. Instead of unexpectedly bonding with coworkers, every social interaction now must be virtually scheduled. And while those interactions can be beneficial, there's still tremendous value in bonding at the office. This can greatly affect the mental wellbeing of employees as they navigate a period that's already challenging for all of us.

The office won’t be exactly the same as it was before the pandemic. Flexibility will become the norm, and that will greatly benefit employees who seek a work experience that goes beyond being “chained to a desk” five days a week. But the office space will go on to thrive in an adapted form, because it’s impossible to recreate the office experience within the four walls of your home. If you’re looking to navigate your organization’s return to the office, Cresa’s team of qualified advisors and resources can help your company explore re-entry.

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