With Covid-19 pandemic radically transforming the way how we live and work, its impact on workplace dynamics is something that has been observed and experienced for a prolonged period than expected. Owing to frequent local and global restrictions for most part of last two years, most organizations adopted hybrid workplace model with remote work becoming the mainstream model. Although the transition entailed a host of challenges, adopting tech-enabled virtual interactions made it viable after a few initial setbacks.
Despite being an effective solution to the unique challenges posed by the pandemic, the WFH model has had serious effects on the mental and physical health of the workforce. With the lines between the workspace and personal space getting blurred and working hours seeping into personal space, it becomes imperative that we realize remote work was never an agreeable model in the first place.
Beginning 2022, with COVID-19 restrictions easing out and companies looking forward to gradually shifting towards hybrid to full on-site working model, the switch back is a logical and strategic move with benefits being categorized as following:
According to research, a large part of inter-personal interactions is governed by non-verbal communication with 55% being impacted through body language and just 7% being impacted by spoken words with 38% by tonality. When working remotely, a significant share of workforce is disconnected from their teams owing to virtual interactions that are centred around just work and ability to connect with peers is diminished in the absence of observation of physical cues such as facial expressions, informal discussions, and body language.
Higher productivity & focus
On-site work enables rigorous brainstorming within a war room setting, leading to most creative and path-breaking ideas coming from cumulative wisdom and knowledge of team members. Meeting someone just after a concern is raised as compared to resolving it over a virtual content through an appointment takes away the steam from the discussion and leads to unnecessary time lags.
Also, the transition that is experienced when we commute from home to workplace and back, enables single-minded focus on work which is not possible when working remotely with working hours permeating into the personal time.
Development of soft skills
Returning to office means increased in-person interactions, leading to a better development of public speaking and presentation skills. Addressing a group is an integral aspect of corporate growth which remains inadequate if one does not engage with peers in physical settings. For instance, there is a huge difference between presenting to a screen versus in front of a group, which are completely different soft skills. Moreover, lack of best tech infrastructure and distractions in terms of noise and interruptions by family members all adds up to a non-conducive environment for work.
Credibility & Trust
The adverse effects of a 24x7 work model on people's mental and physical health are far greater than apparent. With teammates to share the pressure with, receive support from, and generate ideas, the sense of isolation that is characteristic of the WFH model becomes an understatement. Working in teams, building trust, and giving and receiving support enables higher credibility and lowers monotony leading to better mental stimulation with enhanced trust-building at work.
Better work life balance
Human beings, on psychological and behavioral level require in-person social interactions to learn, grow and flourish in their personal and professional lives. Human brain gets a hit of dopamine and endorphins when it engages in mentally stimulating conversations within physical proximity which is not possible when working remotely.
Back to basics - Work from Office will always be mainstream
Having relied on the remote-work model for the better part of past three years, it would not be easy for organizations to drive the switch back to on-site model. With adequate strategies in place, however, the transition can be seamless. Owing to the psychological, behavioral, and financial benefits of the WFO (Work from Office) model, it is a key to higher productivity, effective communication, and a healthy and happy workforce.
Another factor that will make the transition seamless is the fact that WFH was an emergency measure, whilst WFO has always been the established norm for businesses. Returning to offices is, therefore, the logical and productive way forward for organizations worldwide, particularly those that cherish their employees' health and well-being.