Office Workers Starting To Realize They Don’t Like Remote Work After All?

Previously fully-remote workers like Jessica Bryan are finding that they are enjoying being back in the office, at least part-time, and connecting with colleagues.

By Kari Apted | Published

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The Covid-19 pandemic opened countless opportunities for office employees to experience remote work for the first time. While many loved the flexibility of working from home—and still do—humans are social creatures at heart. Now many workers who previously embraced working remotely are happily returning to the office for a more traditional 9-to-5.

According to a BBC Work: In Progress article, some of these workers are keeping quiet about their newfound enthusiasm for office hours. They would prefer not to tell their bosses that they enjoy being there because they don’t want to lose the schedule flexibility they enjoy. It seems that a combination of remote work and in-office work is best for employee satisfaction.

For younger workers, this post-pandemic period of returning to the office is their first experience working outside the home every day. Jessica Bryan, a 24-year-old copywriter based in the UK, loved remote work at her first job after graduating from university. She enjoyed the freedom to schedule her own days, breaking to walk her dog or grab coffee with a friend whenever she liked, and being able to relax the moment her day was done.

When lockdown restrictions loosened, Bryan’s bosses began requiring her to spend more time in the office. “I was back in an almost-school routine … and I didn’t like it,” she said. She ultimately decided to leave the company and stick with companies that provided the flexibility she had enjoyed straight out of college.

Bryan now works as a senior copywriter at a digital PR firm where she must spend two or three days a week in the office. She first balked at the thought of giving up her freedom for about half of the workweek. But something changed, and while she still enjoys her remote work days at home, she’s enjoying office days, too.

“It creeped up on me how much I liked being in the office,” Bryan said, noting that she never thought she’d have missed the camaraderie as much as she did. “In the mornings, I’d be looking forward to seeing my colleagues and having a nice chat. That social interaction and feel of being part of a collective is something I think people forget when they’ve not had it for ages.”

Being in contact with colleagues is a clear benefit of having an in-office presence, especially since so much of communication is non-verbal. Video conferences allow you to see your remote coworkers’ expressions and hear their tones of voice. But nothing will ever replace being able to experience the nuances of in-person communication.

Another advantage to office time is that it draws clear boundaries around work time and home time. That’s one thing even the most ardent work-at-home fans can admit: remote work often blurs these previously set times into an unstructured muddle. This can be particularly tough for those who thrive within clear structures and boundaries.

A summer 2022 survey by job recruitment platform FlexJobs found that about two-thirds of the respondents wanted to keep doing remote work full-time. About 32 percent would be happy if they could just work from home a few days each week. Another survey by ADP Research Institute found similar results, with 64 percent saying they would look for another job if their employer was completely closed to remote work opportunities.