am I the only one excited to return to the office?

A reader writes:

On your blog, we’ve heard from people who’ve been working from home and are afraid to return to the office. We’ve also heard from people who’ve been going into work for all or most of the pandemic and find it hard to sympathize with those fears. But I’m wondering if there’s anyone else who misses the office and is excited to go back when the time comes. I get the sense that I might be an outlier in this regard, but I can’t be the only one. I had been at my job for about two months when the office closed, I’d barely gotten the chance to get to know many of my colleagues.

My company recently announced its target date for fully vaccinated employees to voluntarily return and I was so happy! Am I alone in this?

You are not alone. A lot of people are looking forward to going back!

In some cases it’s because their space at home isn’t as easy to work from as their office is (because of space constraints or other factors).

In some cases it’s because the work itself just isn’t as easily done from home.

Some people miss the ease of working with colleagues who are all in the same location — being able to to have spontaneous conversations, seeing coworkers without scheduling it in advance via Zoom, and having the camaraderie and connection (and sometimes motivation) that come from all working in the same space.

Some people, especially people early in their careers, feel like they’re missing out on some of the mentoring and development that happens more easily when you’re around more senior colleagues in-person. In many jobs, when you’re new you learn a lot just by overhearing other people’s conversations (like how someone handles a difficult client or approaches a tough problem or explains your organization’s stance on X or interviews a source) and much of that has been lost this past year.

Some people just prefer working from the office and always have. Some people liked working from home for a while but are sick of it now.

And for some people, going back to the office feels like a big step toward to normalcy, and that itself is the draw.

It does seem like the narrative we hear the most has been that no one wants to go back, and maybe more people do feel that way than feel like you … but there are still a lot who are looking forward to returning. They’re either less vocal or getting less play in the media but they’re very much there.

Read an update to this letter

{ 428 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I don’t want the this post to be overtaken by comments by those not looking forward to going back! We’ve had plenty of those. I’m not outright prohibiting them here but after so much of that, it’s going to be more interesting to hear from people who are excited to go back or don’t mind going back or aren’t sure how they feel about going back, or have questions about any of those things.

    Updated to add: I have no current plans to use the comments on this post in a separate column, but it’s the kind of topic I can see writing about in the future. So in the interest of caution: If you don’t want your comment used in a separate piece, please note that. Thanks!

  2. Super Duper Anon*

    I cannot wait to go back to the office! We are still in a lockdown situation (in Ontario, Canada) and our vaccine rollout is slower than in the US, so our timeline is longer, probably not until September at least, but I am so looking forward to being back. I am in the camp that just does not have a way to have a great setup at home. It works, but I miss my big desk with large monitors and all the space and super fast network internet. They are allowing for a lot of flexibility, and my manager is also very flexible, so I can still work from home on days that I need to (sick kid, appointments, deliveries, etc) but I don’t have to be home all the time.

      1. meyer lemon*

        We’ve caught up recently for the first shot, but we still have a way to go for the second.

      2. Elenna*

        Eh, it’s hard to compare because Canada is going for a strategy where everyone gets their first vaccine ASAP, at the expense of not getting a second shot for 3-4 months. I could definitely believe that we’re not that far behind in terms of people who’ve gotten the first shot, but we’re quite behind AFAIK if you look at people who’ve gotten the second shot.

        Anecdata, but my 80+ year old grandmother who get her first shot in March still doesn’t have the second one, which is pretty typical everywhere in Canada, I believe. I know vaccination rates vary a lot between US states, but my understanding is there’s at least some states where 20- or 30-year-old adults are fully vaccinated already.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I’m the the US. I am 33 years old and just got my second shot this past Saturday. I am significantly behind most of the people I know in my age group who wanted the vaccine because I don’t have private transportation. If you want a vaccine here and can get out of the house to get it, it is not hard to get an appointment here or in any of the states where my friends and family live.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            I forgot to add that I got my first shot a month ago. They scheduled my second vaccine appointment 4 weeks out at the time I got the shot. And at no time on either date was the pharmacy crowded.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              Where I am, basically, if you are of older than 12, and can walk in to a pharmacy or even a grocery store with a pharmacy, you get a shot. Don’t even need an appointment. No lines, no wait.

              1. RagingADHD*

                Yup. At the big outdoor sites you don’t even get out of the car – just drive up, fill out the form, and hang your arm out the window.

                Of course, we have less than 30% vaccination rate here overall because so many just won’t go. But at least it’s not crowded for those who do.

                1. BigBodyBill*

                  Yes! I got both shots at our local National Guard three weeks apart. I just drove up, answered questions, signed my name and waited my 15 minutes in the car line. They were so very organized and very professional! I even took my dog with me to keep me company during the wait period. He loved seeing all the people and that loved seeing him, too!

              2. Caroline Bowman*

                I am so jealous. I actually feel sour in my mouth. I would absolutely LOVE my shot but will certainly be waiting ages and ages.

        2. June*

          Nope. My 82 year old mother got vaccinated at beginning of March(vaccinating 75+) and then her second shot at beginning of April. Lives in Alberta. Alberta was giving the second shot to anyone that got their first shot at beginning of March within 30-45 days I believe. They changed the second shot guidelines in April to allow more people to get the first shot.

        3. Denver Gutierrez*

          We are open to all age groups 12 and up for vaccines. I am not sure if all states are vaccinating 12 to 15 year old yet, but all states are vaccinating everyone 16+. I am 43 and have been fully vaccinated over a month now, but in my case my employer had someone come in to give us the vaccine, so it was easier for us because we didn’t need to make an appointment.

        4. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

          That is correct. Where I live in the US they are now vaccinating everyone 12 and up. My 18 & 20 year old were considered fully vaccinated last Friday (14 days post second shot)

      3. Juliet*

        We have a 4 month wait between shots so we are way behind for being fully vaccinated.

        1. Cedarthea*

          I think they are starting to shorten timelines, my brother in law is a healthcare worker and got his in early March and he just got notified his second has been moved up by 2 weeks to early June.

          Hopefully we can get as many second shots in before school starts! I work in childcare and camps so that is a big bright line for us.

    1. Karen*

      I’m in Ontario too – I’ll be fully vaccinated by October, my office is planning on going back sometime around the end of the year with lots of flexibility and I’m really looking forward to it. I have a 20-minute walk to work, and I miss it. I miss my coworkers, I miss having my dining room not be an office. I miss having a bad day at work and leaving it there. I want my life with my spouse to be separated from my work life! I’ll miss lunch break naps and the constant snacking and not having a gym membership just to shower after a lunch run, but that’s about it!

      1. Medusa*

        Wow, do you already have your first vaccine? I don’t have either yet, (I wasn’t eligible until last week) but I’ll be fully vaccinated within the next five weeks. Shows you how differently countries are taking things. Meanwhile, my parents, on the other side of the world, are in their late 60s and early 70s and neither has even gotten an appointment yet.

    2. TWW*

      Same here. My big desk, multiple monitors, fast internet, and comfortable chair make my 20-minute commute well worth it.

    3. nonprofit llama groomer*

      I am like you. I don’t have an ideal work from home setup (only because of the very specific type of work I do). It’s fine for a couple of days a week, but not months upon months of working from home. However, I have a commute and it’s great to know that working from home IS an option now. I’m also a person who NEEDS interaction with other people, especially colleagues who I can collaborate with in person and not just through phone calls and email. I absolutely need some alone time and time with my family, but I also need my colleagues and friends.

    4. Skemps*

      I voluntarily went back at the beginning of March and have been loving it! I was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2019, so I was on super strict lockdown for all of 2020. Nothing but Dr appts, chemo, surgery, hospitalizations, etc.

      I am a social person and my mental/emotional health was suffering greatly from having cancer, during a pandemic and being so isolated. Once I was done with cancer treatment in January and received the second dose of my vaccine in early February, my oncologist approved my return. (I still social distance and wear a mask when I leave my office or someone comes into it.)

      I run a dept of 10, and 3 people from my dept requested to NOT work from home after the initial lockdown ended. (Our business runs well either in person or remote.) They were given permission and have been going to the office the whole time. (Only approved because majority of office employees were remote.)

      Our company sent a Return to Work Survey out last week and I’m curious to see what comes of it. I miss having my whole team together, but I understand the benefits of working from home…especially for those who have a longer commute, etc.

      We’ll see what comes of the survey, but in the meantime, I will continue to go to the office and love it!

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        Wow, that must have been absolutely awful, to be really, really sick and probably in need of companionship and support and not too much alone time… in the middle of a pandemic!

        It’s wonderful that you are now better and enjoying life once more, you are clearly a very strong person, but there must have been very dark days throughout the Nightmare that Was 2020. When I’m feeling whiney, I’ll remember this kind of situation and think again…

    5. L*

      Also in Ontario. My employer sold the office last year, and they’re saying that they’re looking at office space for mid-2022. I am going absolutely _insane_ stuck at home, I can’t do this for another year! I didn’t sign up for a permanently remote job, and I don’t want one. I love most other things about the company, but I’m seriously considering quitting over this once things are more stable.

  3. Almost Academic*

    Yes! I support all of my colleagues who are advocating for increased flexibility and WFH policies, but I am so excited to head back to office myself. You are not alone!

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I’ve been back in the office a fair bit since getting vaccinated, but this week we’ve had vaccinated visitors and it’s been like the normal office. I love it! I’ve missed this SO MUCH and while I hope flexibility will stay because I know we have a lot of people who will benefit from it (including me sometimes), but oh boy being back around people all day is my favourite thing. There is so much energy, I have a better sense of what’s going on across the business, and I have all the resources I could possibly need.

    2. Another Michael*

      Yes! I feel like so many folks have been advocating for a monolithic response, but really options should be the answer when available. I want my coworkers who need it to get flexibility, but boy do I want to be working from my office desk as soon as possible!

      1. JM60*

        options should be the answer when available

        You’re right. Maximum flexibility/options is best. The problem is that some bosses won’t allow WFH unless the majority of people are demanding it, in which case, those who prefer to work from home may be a threat of sorts – through no fault of their own – to those of us who prefer to work remotely.

        A new CEO took over at my employer at the start of the pandemic, and she abolished the existing 2 day/week WFH policy in late February 2020, in spite of that policy being extremely popular. If not for the pandemic, they wouldn’t have allowed remote work except as the exception to the rule. When they surveyed employees a few weeks ago about whether they preferred a 100% in-office workplace, 100% remote, or a mix (some office days, some remote days), only 6% said they preferred 100% in-office, with the rest being split almost evenly between a hybrid model or 100% remote. And exactly 0 employees out of hundreds selected undecided, so I think people tend to have very strong opinions on this. I think the new CEO abolishing WFH in spite of it being so popular (~94%) shows how hard it can be to get it if management doesn’t like it.

    3. KayDeeAye*

      OP, you are not alone. I know many of my colleagues can’t wait to be back in the office full-time. Mind you, I am not one of those people (it’s not perfect, but for the most part, I really like working from home), but many of my coworkers are positively eager to get back for a lot of reasons: poor home internet, crowded conditions at home, difficulty in doing their jobs from an offsite location, a yearning to See People I’m Not Related To, etc.

      They’re going to have to wait, though. :-) We’ve been back in the office two days/week for a while now, and the original plan was to get us back to three days in the office sometime this summer while at the same time offering those who want it the opportunity to come into the office every day. My office-missing coworkers were extremely pleased. But because we’re about to start a massive remodeling project, we’re going to stay at 2 days/week until January or February. The temporary space we’ll be in during the renovation is just a bit too small to allow full reopening.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        I have always been work from home, but my husband has said that whenever he does eventually go back to the office, he’d LOVE the chance to go in 2-3 days a week and WFH the other days, it’s just so much more flexible and allows for some Other People Time, whilst cutting down on commute stress.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Yes, I want all the flexibility for WFH policies, but as for myself I kind of like working in the office for the most part.

      One thing that is irritating me at home is that my desk chair is sinking into the plush carpet, even though I have a heavy plastic chair mat under the chair. It worked fine at first, but gradually a groove formed where the mat sinks into the carpet.

      The other thing irritating me is my husband likes to chat a lot, and I also like to chat with him, and when I’m home I would like to be free to do so . . . so it’s just an irritation that I want to be at home doing home things, but I’m at home doing work things.

      1. Amber E*

        Dorky as it sounds, we had the same problem and invested in a glass chair mat, which has been great. It still squishes/matts down the carpet a lot, but the rolling surface is so much smoother! They’re worth taking a look at on Amazon. I want to say it was a $50 or $60 investment that made my back so much happier.

      2. File Herder*

        Years ago I got myself a large sheet of hardboard, and put a layer of anti-slip underlay on top of the hardboard and then a woven cord rug on top of that. It spreads the load and gives the right amount of traction so that my chair doesn’t skate backwards if I lean back too quickly but still rolls easily when I want it to. The carpet’s still fine after a decade, and the rug’s hard-wearing enough that it’s only just starting to wear through in the area that gets the most hammering.

    5. Just Another Techie*

      Yes, same. I’m so happy for my colleagues for whom WFH has been working well for them, and who will have the opportunity to have regular WFH days going forward (previously WFH was extremely restricted for only rare extenuating circumstances, like a plumbing emergency or something like that). Personally, though, I’m delighted my management finally authorized me to come back to the office because working from home was miserable for me.

    6. SeanT*

      There are a good deal of folks who I think fall under the catagory “want to go back. but also want the ongoing flexibility to work from home here and there as its been proven it can work” and a lot of those people tend to get lumped in with the “don’t want to go back”

      I have no issues of going back, I look forward to it. I just want my place to have a plan in place other than “tell us with little lead time to get back” or “go back to being 100% inflexible about WFH”.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah, for me the ideal work situation is mostly in the office, but with the flexibility to work from home occasionally, either due to logistics (bad weather, sick kid, repair person, morning sickness), or feeling a bit cruddy but not enough for a sick day. I also like it when I’m doing work that involves starting code running, waiting 15 minute, looking at the results, repeating, or a day spent reading stuff. I would work a longer than normal day in start to finish, but spend those 15 minute gaps tossing in laundry, doing batch cooking, etc.

    7. Database Developer Dude*

      You’re in the minority then, Almost Academic. I’ve lost track of the number of those excited to get back in the office who will obnoxiously tell those of us not excited to “quit whining and get back to work” as if we haven’t been working the entire time. My current workplace is about to see my resignation letter because they KNOW about my spouse being immunocompromised due to chemo for breast cancer and that I’m trying to reduce my exposure, but don’t care. They’re now mandating 2x/week on site.

      And you know what’s bad about that? I’m the lone database administrator. If there’s no specific work I need to do on the two classified networks, I can do what I need on the laptop they gave me with the VPN on the unclassified network. I can come in off-hours to check on the classified databases. They don’t care. 2x/week, and it has to be M-F, between 6 and 6. There’s a strong possibility when I get there, I’ll have to compete for a seat, too, because there aren’t enough.

      *smdh*…..but I guess I should be lucky to have a job, right??

      If I can find someplace within the firm to transfer, great, because this client is dumb. If not, then I’ll work somewhere else. I’m tired of everyone wanting cookie cutter crap.

  4. Public Sector Manager*

    My office never did WFH before the pandemic and switched to WFH at the last second. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the WFH experience and the flexibility it brings. But I do miss being in the office and seeing everyone. When my office opens back up, I really want a hybrid–core hours in the office, something like 8 am to 1:30 pm, drive home to avoid the commute, and then finish out my shift at home. A lot of my team is in the same boat.

    And a major thank you to everyone who never got the option of working from home. You all did everyone a great service, and I think you’ve earned the next 18 months off with pay! Thank you!

    1. Elizabeth*

      Yes! Exactly this. I miss talking to people I’m not related to, brainstorming, coffee talk, etc. But I also do not miss driving in winter weather and during migraines and rush hour, etc. I’m excited to go back, and my boss has already agreed we’ll have far more latitude since we’ve proven WFH is productive. Probably because he has to drive even farther than I do… I’m incredibly excited about having flexibility.

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      I agree. I miss people, and look forward to having in person meetings where it can really help to have people in person, and I miss the ability to pop my head over the cube wall, but I don’t think I’ll ever be up for 100% in the office. Probably 3 days home, 2 days in the office for me, but it will depend a lot on what my team decides. There’s no real point if we’re not on similar schedules in the office, frex.

      1. Perpetual parenting*

        I had a baby last April and am having another one in a few weeks. I am so looking forward to being back at work after this maternity leave. It’s been one long blur of baby care on top of work from home on top of never leaving home partially due to babies and partially due to my oldest having cancer all during a pandemic. Can not wait to see only adults for several hours a week this fall.

        1. 2020storm*

          Wow that’s a lot! I’m sorry about the cancer. I agree that the pandemic has felt like one long maternity leave, and I hated maternity leave! Best of luck to you.

        2. Caroline Bowman*

          What a horrifying idea, having to deal with a child with cancer, a new baby and then a pandemic and now another new baby (not that a new baby is horrifying, I mean the timing / pandemic / cancer situation). How exhausted and worried you must have been. I hope it is all resolved soon and you get some calm, productive, unstressful, good-coffee office time in the near future!

        3. Corporate Drone Liz*

          Oh my goodness, what a crazy year you’ve had – I’m so sorry to hear about your eldest and hope they’ve recovering/are recovering. I can completely understand why you’d want to have some dedicated adults-only time away from home!

      2. Alex*

        This is interesting, as the thing I miss the least from being in the office is in-person meetings… they have always felt like such a waste of time, are hard to set up (with people being harder to coordinate), and if a small part of people that need to take part are remote / in another office (and we have 50+ offices around the globe, so the chance is pretty high) then the experience is considerably worse as if everyone would just dial in via Teams… but that’s only my opinion, and might be completely nullified if all your staff is in one office only anyway.

        1. Cc*

          If part of the team is dialing in from somewhere else, putting a Jabra speaker dialed in on the table in a conference room helps A LOT, so just one person in the conference room has to dial in. Jabra speakers make a huge difference from my experience with hybrid meeting attendees.

      3. Joielle*

        Yeah, same here. I’ll be happy to go back two or three days a week when that’s allowed, but will also be very happy to work from home the other two or three days. Luckily it sounds like my employer plans to be flexible, and I think pretty much all my immediate coworkers are also planning to be in the office about half the time. We’ll just have to coordinate on which half.

    3. Gene Parmesan*

      I’ve been doing basically this since our kids went back to in-person school and there is no afterschool care. It’s nice to have the flexibility and trust from my supervisor. But all the driving and picking up kids feels hectic, and I’ll be glad for next school year when (my expectation is) school/work will be closer to normal.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      What I miss about work is that I’m only responsible for my work tasks and my self. I don’t have to consider anyone else’s preferences about what we’re having for lunch or whether I’m working too much and not paying attention to them or any of the other things that are a consideration with family that are NOT a consideration with coworkers.

    5. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

      Definitely hoping for flexibility from my work – maybe reduced hours on location or being allowed to pick in-office vs WFH days. Technically we could probably go back now, but they’ve decided to do some major remodeling (I think they’re trying to consolidate all corporate employees at one location rather than the 3 we currently have). They were estimating 6-9 months for construction back in March, but I don’t think anything’s begun and I just know it’s going to take longer so I’m not anticipating going back until after the first of the year.

  5. RagingADHD*

    My job was always remote from before the pandemic, but nothing feels normal when it’s “have to.”

    My whole family will be “vaxxed & relaxed” in a few weeks, and I have already scoped out which table at my local coffee shop is going to be my new office. I’m fairly introverted, but you definitely can have too much of anything. I can’t wait to see more people in person!

    1. The Rural Juror*

      I was waiting for my order at a food truck yesterday at lunch, so I sat down at a bench that was near a picnic table where another woman who seemed about my age was sitting. A man came over and sat down at the table as well, then started talking to her, so I thought they knew each other. He want on and on about how he was excited to be fully vaccinated and ready to see people again! Then his order was called, so he stood up and said, “By the way, my name is Jim!” She told him her name, nice to meet you, and then he walked off to pick up his food.

      I couldn’t help it, but I asked, “Wait! You didn’t know that guy?!?” She laughed and said, “Nope, never seen him before in my life. He just sat down and started talking. Guess he’s excited to be out in the world again!”

      Hopefully that doesn’t happen to you at the coffee shop! Some people may be itching so much for social interaction that they ignore all boundaries – like Jim! Haha!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Honestly, I might be Jim for the first couple weeks. It will all wear off soon enough, might as well enjoy it.

    2. row row row your boat*

      I also have really missed not-quite-an-office environments. Cafes with good wifi were a staple for me in pre-pandemic days, and I miss being able to decide to work places other than my home.

    3. Brooklyn*

      My team is fully remote, but I get a desk in an office once it opens up. Everyone I interact with is now vaccinated, and my partner works in air travel, so they’ve been constantly exposed this whole time, locked in a metal tube with the kind of people who took vacation flights this year…

      The last two weeks have been magic – sitting outside at the local coffee shop, not in my living room, the weather getting nice. I can’t wait to have a real office with the separation that brings, but I’m also just so grateful to the extent things have opened up. And being in NYC, the open streets/open restaurant programs have been a godsend, creating more space for people to work like this.

  6. RandomLawyer*

    Cannot wait to get back. I just can’t do my job as effectively from home. I hope WFH flexibility is a thing that remains, but I can’t wait to get back and see people and interact with people and actually GET THINGS DONE.

    1. A Genuine Scientician*

      Definitely me too. I teach at a university. A large component of my teaching is a *lab* course, which is certainly challenging to teach if the students will never set foot in the lab nor have access to the specialized equipment there. It has been brutal trying to do that in a meaningful way online. Even the lecture course is a lot harder. With all the students having their cameras off, I have no facial reactions nor body language to guide me on when I need to slow down, when I can speed up, when students need more time on a given topic, when students aren’t engaged any longer and need to be refocused, when a break would be most helpful, etc.

      I’m still going to be online in the fall. We have enough international students who may not all have access to vaccines in their home countries that someone has to take on the online version of one of the courses, and I was the only logical choice available, so I agreed to do it. I want to be teaching in person as soon as it’s safe. I’m interested in getting the tech to allow me to do some of my *grading* from home, so maybe I’m not on campus every day, or possibly only partial days some days. But I am definitely looking forward to being back in person.

  7. Hazel*

    I’m looking forward to going back to the office, too! I do much better being around people, so the quarantine has been hard on my mental health. I’m a little nervous about getting covid even though I’m vaccinated, but I plan to wear a mask indoors and be as careful as I can. That nervousness is definitely outweighed by wanting to be with my coworkers – many of whom I have never met in person. I was hired last June, and my team has met in person once for a few hours, mostly outdoors. As Alison mentioned in her answer, it will also make things feel more “normal” if I can go to the office at least some days per week.

    1. Tek5508*

      I have been very fortunate to have WFH/work in office on alternating weeks, but when we have the choice to be FT in the Office, I will jump at it. Basically, my home is my HOME, I do not really want to be working from there, ya dig? Only upside to WFH was being able to take our Yorkies for walkies during lunch

      1. Prof_Murph*

        Since graduate school (15+ years ago), I have *always* done all my work in the office and none at home. While this sometimes leads to late nights in the office, I find it very important in maintaining a work/life balance. It also helped with productivity at work, because it became an environmental trigger – once I was there, I was working. When lockdown happened, I was devastated. I am fortunate to have a second bedroom that I easily converted to a home office and it’s comfortable working space. But I still hate it and am definitely less productive. I hate that I roll out of bed and my office is right there waiting for me. There’s a psychology to getting up and ready to work, to driving to work and getting settled. I also live alone, so going back to my physical office and being able to see others is so important to my mental health. I’m very much looking forward to having a work life that’s separate from my home life.

  8. Womanaroundtown*

    I thought I wanted to go back, and then we actually did – part time. So now I am often alone in the building when I do go in (I’m on a very small team), we’re having computer issues such that I actually can’t do everything from the office that I can do from home, meaning I have to work extra when I leave the office. It’s been really hard because it’s been clear that I need to leave this job – I’m bored, I feel useless, I’m literally sitting in my office doing nothing, and then I’m exhausted by the time I get home. I was so looking forward to seeing my coworkers again and thought I’d really enjoy no longer working from home, but it’s been so hard to realize the opposite.

    1. Womanaroundtown*

      And I don’t have a choice in coming back – the order comes from way above us. We have been told that our productivity output during the pandemic means nothing – they don’t trust us to be working from home anymore. It’s incredibly demoralizing and I really hope no one else is dealing with this.

      1. Allypopx*

        That’s awful. I’m so sorry. Being outright told you’re not trusted despite all the evidence you should be is infantilizing and super demoralizing.

      2. wittyrepartee*

        I work in public health, and we’re experiencing the same thing. I may be pursing an ADA accommodation because working from home was really good for my productivity and mental health.

    2. Malarkey01*

      I think that will be one big adjustment for workplaces that give options. We had several people that wanted to go back because they missed collaborating and the social aspects. Those people were allowed to go back if vaccinated 6 weeks ago, but found they were sitting alone and still on video calls. We heard a lot of disappointment and folks heading back home. These big changes are hard.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, and especially for the extroverts who were used to being the default type of office worker and introverts just having to deal with constant interruptions because it suited their extroverted working style better. Many introverts are probably relieved that they can focus on work rather than socializing at work. Even if complete isolation is too much for most introverts who aren’t complete hermits. As this thread has shown, there are other good reasons to want to go back to the office regardless of where you fall on the introvert-extrovert scale.

        I’ve done well WFH and don’t really miss the office, but that’s because I’m very privileged. I’m middle-aged with a husband and a kid in elementary school who’s been able to go to in-person school for most of the pandemic. I’m not isolated because I’m in a great marriage and pretty much get my social non-family needs met by talking to my friends and extended family by phone or text. My job requires almost no synchronous collaboration, so I don’t get much benefit from being at the office except on process development days. I’m well-established in my career and not at all ambitious, I could easily see myself working this role for the next 20 years or so until I retire, so I don’t need facetime with the leaders to stay in people’s minds and get promoted etc. I work for the government and while no job is ever completely safe, mine’s as safe as it gets. Unless my organization decides to outsource my job, I’ll basically have it for as long as I want it, as long as I
        don’t commit a crime or break our regulations in a way that gets me fired for cause, they can’t let me go and hire someone else to do the same job. Our house is big enough for two adults (and a kid) to have separate offices or rooms to work in while still keeping our bedrooms and living room as non-work spaces. Covid has disrupted my life, but less severely than most people’s. I’m so grateful that I don’t know anyone personally who has become infected with Covid, never mind been hospitalized for it or died from it. I realize it has been a tragedy for the world at large, but I can’t let myself get into an anxiety spiral over the fate of strangers, I just do what I can so I won’t be a part of the problem…

  9. Nicotene*

    Most people I’ve talked to (mid thirties white collar workers) want to go back in some hybrid format – a lot of people saying either one, two, or three days in the office is the right amount for them. That seems about right to me too, as I have a hard time keeping myself motivated for endless zoom meetings in a way that wouldn’t be as obvious if I was physically moving from space to space and group to group. There’s a samey-ness to the days right now that I’m definitely struggling with.

    1. TiffIf*

      My office is still in its phased reopening plan and I’m not slated to go back to the office until they are in the full reopening phase, but I have been vocal to my manager that I would love two or three days WFH every week even when we reopen. (Prior to covid my office had done 1 WFH day a week for years).

      I want to go back into the office–I hate working from my bedroom all the time (bedroom is the only place I have available to set up) –and I do miss seeing people face to face etc. But it can be nice to save projects where I need to bury myself in it without distractions for my WFH day like I used to before covid (it was kind of ‘out of sight out of mind’ I would get fewer interruptions when I worked from home).

    2. Cedarthea*

      I got shifted to a much better work location (at our camp where I work rather than our head office) and I really want to stay here. My colleague and I who shared an office out there and now share here (I am bubbled with her family as I am single), both say we would go into the office for meetings but we want to work out here more often and now that we finally have a decent laptop set up and internet (rather than phone tethering) I hope it is a reality.

      Its a hybrid system that would be so much better for me, but I don’t know if it will work for everyone else (aka my boss).

    3. Aquawoman*

      This is where I and most of my team land as well. Don’t want 100% either way. I like the benefits of the office and the increased collegiality and cross-fertilization of ideas and the like, and not having a loud office mate (my husband :)). OTOH I like to comfort of not wearing a bra and saving the 1.5 hours in commute time and being able to make my lunch at lunchtime.

    4. Ali G*

      This is where I am too. I am looking forward to a hybrid WFH and on-site schedule (which is supported by leadership). The issue I am having now is no one else is yet using the office regularly, so even if I go in, I am all alone! So I am not going to start until there is a larger contingent of people using the office regularly. But I’ve always known there are some things I do well at home and some I need to feel the hum the office to tackle, so I am looking forward to being able flex my schedule to be the most productive.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Yeah, my brother manages an engineering team, and he was talking about finding ways to support in-person collaboration as well as remote solo work. Because they need both, and it’s a good way to maximize productivity for the different types of tasks.

    6. BubbleTea*

      We’re going to have to have some kind of hybrid, because we now have more staff than desks! Also several of us live at least 45 minutes drive away from the office (and the others are almost all within walking distance, not much middle ground) so now that we’ve shown WFH works, we are likely to keep doing it. In person team meetings would be good though, as would the ability to deal with paperwork in the office instead of relying on our long-suffering admin to do it all.

      As I’m going on maternity leave in a few weeks, I suspect a lot of decisions and changes will happen while I’m out. Being able to request WFH flexibility when I go back will be huge, but I do look forward to seeing people’s faces!

    7. English, not American*

      This is where I stand as well. My job is easy to do from home, but I’ve been blindsided by a few things since I no longer sit among the rest of my team to overhear what’s coming up. I think I want a 3-2 split, though have yet to decide whether the majority would be home or office. But of course that still relies on my teammates also choosing to be in the office at the same time to have the important conversations!

      Most teams at my work already had the flexibility to work from home regularly (I’d do it every Friday pre-pandemic) but it was always informal arrangements made with their manager. I have one coworker who lives at the other end of the country and would be seen maybe one day a month in the office, and another who lives abroad, even, so this flexibility ran the gamut. Now there’s talk of a formal policy, potentially with minimum in-office expectations. It’ll be interesting to see what impact that policy might have.

    8. gmg22*

      I feel this way, too. For me the biggest hurdle is my long commute, though that has always been to some degree by choice — when I moved back to my mostly rural home state six years ago to take my current job, I opted to live not in the small city where my employer is located, but in a larger city about 40 miles away, mostly because I had friends there but also because I was worried about culture shock returning home from a large metro area. Now I’m settled here, and the commute was just part of my routine until the pandemic — though not my favorite part, especially during winter weather. A few years ago I was able to buy an affordable (ie, preowned) plug-in hybrid car, and that made me feel better about it from a sustainability standpoint, as did taking the bus some days. But overall, it was a downside.

      The flip side, of course, is that I miss spending time in the community where I work, I miss the change of scenery and most of all I miss being with my colleagues in person. Three days a week (likely T-W-Th most weeks, unless there’s a meeting that will go better in person) is what I’m eventually aiming for, and my sense is that most everybody in my small office has similar ideas. I think we’re going to move forward with a very flexible model, and I realize the advantage of working for a small organization where we can reach this kind of consensus more easily.

    9. Susie Q*

      This is my ideal situation. WFH 2-3 days a week and the rest of the time in office.

  10. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I’m going to continue to work from home, but I am looking forward to the day when the on-site weeks for our remote teams resume. I’m not as productive on those weeks, but they do strengthen relationships with my coworkers.

  11. LDF*

    I kind of wish I could go back in some capacity eventually, but it’s not going to happen. My company is not going back to full-time in-person work for my role. At some point I’ll be able to go to the office if I want, but what’s the point if other in my role aren’t there, ya know? I’m very lucky to have a comfortable setup at home but not jazzed about never again experiencing all the things Alison mentions.

  12. many bells down*

    I chose the job I’m in partly because I wanted a reason to wear nice clothes and be out of the house. I’ll be able to use my home office as a sewing room again. I can interact with adults other than my spouse!

    I spent 15 years at home raising two kids with health issues. I was so happy to be out of the house and feeling like a Professional Adult again.

    1. OyHiOh*

      I’ve been in the office since Sept (with all appropriate precautions) and like you, am coming off a long break to raise children. I actually tried to get back into the workforce a few years ago but then got derailed by a death. Putting on professional clothes, packing a lunch, commuting, it’s all part of my determination to be a real working professional again.

    2. Expelliarmus*

      Oh, I’m so ready to start wearing nice clothes again too! Be it for work or leisure. When I’m at home, it seems like I rotate through the same outfits, and I’m ready for some variety!

      1. Evan Þ.*

        I wore casual t-shirts for the first couple weeks working from home, but then I decided to start dressing up again anyway. It makes me feel more together and ready to work.

      2. Shan*

        My office is open, but we unofficially but obviously transitioned from Casual Fridays to Casual All Week Long. Not that I couldn’t wear my nicer clothes (and I have a VERY stocked closet), but I walk to work now, and it’s just easier to do that in a pair of jeans than a pair of dress slacks that need to be worn with a heel. Plus, a lot of my nicest stuff doesn’t really fit correctly now, so I guess it’s good that I don’t have to go buy replacements?

        But I definitely do feel like I’m in a bit of a rut with my outfits, even being back in the office.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I ended up ordering a bunch of cotton stretch dresses from Universal Standard and split the difference between looking put together and being comfortable.

    3. ForeignLawyer*

      Same here. I live in a small flat — I hate feeling like my home has been taken over by my work setup (it’s small enough that my desk takes up pretty much the only empty space I had), I miss my nice clothes, I miss getting out of the house, and I really miss seeing adults I know every day.

      Plus 99% of my job over the last 18 months has been trying to collaborate on complex spreadsheets over Teams, which really doesn’t work well. I’d go back just to never have to do that again alone.

  13. Alice Quinn*

    I am looking forward to it! WFH has been nice in a lot of ways, but I very much miss being able to just stop by someone’s desk to chat instead of everything having to be scheduled.

    1. BookishMiss*

      Same, i really miss that structured socialization. I can’t wait to go back, for that, for getting out of the house, and because my job is SO MUCH EASIER in person. But there are no plans to go back at least until September, which in my org pretty much means not until next year. Probably longer, for me.

    2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      So, as someone who is begrudgingly willing to come back once or twice a week if I have to… Would you still be looking forward to it if half to 2/3 of your team were working from home on any given day and communication still needed to be scheduled? We’re still negotiating things in my office, and I’m starting to wonder if the twice-a-week compromise will just make everyone miserable equally.

      1. Alex*

        Especially if you need to agree on “everyone has the same two days a week and the same hours on those days” to create the environment – if everyone is doing 2 days, but selects their days themselves, the effect would be almost nil…

      2. Alice Quinn*

        We’ve actually had a lot of conversation about this as a team. Our company is huge, and it will be a while before it’ll be feasible to have everyone back. I personally have no interest in coming in to just sit on Zooms all day in the office. I can do that at home in my yoga pants! It is key for me to have at least a good portion of the people I work with directly on site.

    3. Bostonian*

      Me too. I’m about as introverted as they come, but I really like most of my colleagues and am excited to interact with them again more regularly.

      It’s hard to be deliberate about socializing remotely! It’s so much easier to take a 15-minute coffee break with a small group of people than to try to have online chats with each person individually. (And more desirable. In person, there’s the draw of getting out and getting a tasty beverage. Online… it’s just another zoom meeting.)

  14. Kyubey*

    I like working from home some of the time, but not 100%. I am going back to a hybrid schedule in September, 3 days a week in the office and 2 work from home, although this setup may not be permanent. Personally, my mental health is better when I leave my apartment by 10am most days, get dressed, etc. It’s about a balance, sometimes wfh is nice because there’s no commute, I can start dinner or laundry early, and sleep an extra hour later. But I live alone in a 1 bedroom apartment, I don’t have a great workspace and being so isolated all year has just been awful for me.

    Others may feel differently, but that’s why I think companies should offer flexibility to the extent that they can. My hope is that one day the world feels more normal, maybe not completely 2019 normal, but it’s something.

    1. UKDancer*

      This is where I sit. I like some things about working from home some of the time (like not having the commute) but I don’t want to do it all the time as I find I get grumpy. There are some parts of the job which are a lot easier to do in the office rather than out of it. I think my ideal would be working from home 50% of the time and in the office the rest of it. My company is clear they don’t want people working from home all of the time but are reasonably flexible.

      Once I’ve had my second vaccine in July I am hoping to start going back into the office 1 day per week. Obviously this depends on Boris’s end of the lockdown plan going ahead on schedule.

    2. Liz*

      I’m like you, single, live alone in a 1BR, so my DR is my “office” I’d also prefer a hybrid, as there are advantages to both being home and in the office. I know my mental health has suffered a bit being home alone for the last 14 months. So hoping if i can “mix it up a bit” that will help

  15. ecnaseener*

    I’ve definitely noticed that “please don’t force me into a dangerous situation” is just a lot louder than “please don’t force me to stay at home forever.” I guess it’s just more emotionally salient.

    Even within my own office, boss can say “Leadership wants a rough head count of how many desks we’ll need, so what’s everyone thinking about remote/hybrid/in-person?” (aka a statement that makes it clear the expectation is not everyone will go back) and the first and loudest responses are always from the minority who desperately wants to stay fully remote.

    1. KHB*

      …and then the boss thinks, “Oh, it looks like nobody wants to go back to the office, so let’s start planning for the transition to being fully remote forever.” Grrr…

      I’m looking forward to going back to the office, for all the reasons that everyone else has already mentioned. Technically, we’ve been allowed to go back to the office (at limited capacity) since last September, but they have all these ridiculous rules in place that are totally at odds with current CDC guidance (all the hallways are one-way, you’re not allowed to touch any door handles or elevator buttons with your fingers, etc.), so I still haven’t been back. An environment like that just seems like it would be even less comfortable than my (not very comfortable) home office set-up.

      If I were slightly more conspiracy-minded than I am, I’d suspect that they were keeping those rules in place on purpose, to discourage people from coming back in, so they can then turn around and conclude that nobody wants to come back in and we don’t need offices anymore. We own our office space, so there’s no financial benefit to downsizing, but our CEO has been making a lot of noises about how the future of the modern workplace is as a collaboration space, not a place to house lots of individual employees. None of that makes any sense for most of our actual jobs – but the CEO is undeterred by that.

    2. IgnisDivine*

      The thing that bothers me about this, is that one day- maybe not right now- but at some point, going into an office hopefully will no longer be considered dangerous. I understand that many of us have this mentality, we are putting ourselves or others at risk by interacting with other people.

      I look forward to the day where interacting with other humans is no longer perceived as dangerous or risky behavior. “Please don’t force me to stay at home forever” should maybe become “Please don’t keep me trapped in isolation forever”

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, but the thing is, we’re always putting ourselves and others at risk when we interact with other people! It’s just a matter of deciding how much risk is acceptable, and how much we gain through the interaction vs the risk of doing it. After all, the Covid precautions ensured that the influenza epidemic failed to materialize. I haven’t had a single sick day since February 2020. Partly that’s because my job is very flexible and I’ve been able to use my banked working hours and work a shorter day when I’ve felt even slightly under the weather, when before I would’ve either taken a sick day or gone to the office if I didn’t bring my work laptop at home that day.

    3. Back to the (office of the) future*

      In my company, there’s this really nasty idea that the people who want to return to the office are inconsiderate and privileged (that they can afford to live close to work, that they’re all extroverts whose jobs involve a lot of human interaction), but I’ve found it to be almost the opposite. The people who want to stay remote forever live in houses, with their families, and they’re senior enough that people come to them instead of having to seek information out.
      I live alone, I regularly go days without speaking to a single person, and the isolation is really getting to me.

      And I feel so alienated from my larger team, I have no sense of what the larger mission is anymore, tasks just come into my inbox and I execute them, no chances to try and grab more interesting work for myself.

      I desperately want to go back and actually see my coworkers, discuss things face to face, check in on how they’re doing. People are acting as if these pandemic era restrictions will last forever, they won’t, and I’m willing to put up with them for a few months.

      1. KHB*

        I sympathize with you so much. I live close to the office – but not because I’m “privileged,” because I sacrificed a lot to live in this location! I live in a tiny apartment that I never expected would have to serve as full-time living and working space for two people. I’m also an introvert, which means that in “normal” times, I didn’t interact with that many people other than my coworkers and my partner. But like (almost) everybody else, I’m still wired to need some human contact that’s not through a forking Zoom screen. Apart from my partner, I’ve been so lonely this past year.

        Hang in there. Here’s hoping it won’t be that much longer.

  16. Chrissimas*

    I feel the same way! We just found out our office will open to full capacity on June 1st but that through the end of this year going in will be entirely voluntary. I’m sure it’ll be a ghost town but I know I am excited at least!!

    I live alone and just need to be around people more than this. Pre-pandemic I worked from home mondays and fridays which was perfect (and very generous). I hope to go back to that.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      We have to be at full capacity by August 1st, and our boss had us each submit our individual plan for working up to that level of working in the office. He said, “Studies show that if you go from full-time at home to full-time in the office, you’re going to be disgruntled . . . ” so we each submitted a plan that we were comfortable with for ramping up to full time work, and we’re each doing our own version that works best for us. I’m working three days a week on campus as of spring break. My coworkers are each working only two days a week on campus, but they”ll add more days closer to the deadline. We purposely made one day where we’re all three in the office together.

      1. Sweet Christmas*

        While that may be true, I’ve just been telling people that we can’t fully rely on studies of working from home because those were usually done with people who *chose* to work from home under normal world conditions, not millions of people being *forced* to work from home in the middle of a global emergency that also shut down all of the other parts of their lives. They’re just very different situations.

  17. Maggie*

    I have mixed feelings. I am excited to go back and see all my colleagues, as well as foster those mentorship connections. I’m also in the under 30 group that moved back home. The amount of savings I’ve accumulated by not paying rent have been life changing. My standard of living has improved drastically, and I’ll definitely miss that when I’m back in the office.

  18. Sandlapper*

    I am ready to go back to the office. I live alone and the past 15 months have been very isolating. I always said I did not want to work from home. And now I have the data to back up the statement.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I also always said that I did not want to work from home, and I was among the last ones to keep working on campus until the Chancellor mandated that everyone had to go home. There are some ways in which working at home has been better (hello, raising a puppy to adulthood), but mainly I like keeping my work self at work and my home self at home.

    2. allathian*

      I wonder if you would feel as strongly if you’d been forced to WFH because your office building was condemned as unfit for humans while the rest of the world would have been as open as usual? WFH during a pandemic is not the same as WFH when you can socialize normally otherwise. I do hope that you aren’t dependent on your coworkers as your only social outlet in non-pandemic times. That’s an unfair burden to put on them, unless all of you work insane hours to the point that there simply isn’t any time to cultivate your non-work relationships, and then you’re all in the same boat. That said, people have plenty of reasons for not liking WFH, only you know yours.

      I don’t miss going to the office at all, except for brainstorming sessions that are much more pleasant in person. I do miss being able to see my friends and extended family in person and browsing in a bookstore for fun, and just doing my weekly shopping in person without making it a huge project that gives me the same kind of anxiety I normally get before traveling. I’ve only gone to the store once during the pandemic, my husband’s done the vast majority of our shopping.

      1. lizcase*

        For me it’s not about putting the burden on co-workers for socialization, it’s about feeling less isolated when there are people around. Even if I barely interact with coworkers, I can get my quota of “social” simply from being in the office. But then I’ve never liked working in quiet or alone. I need a certain level of background noise to concentrate.

  19. oranges*

    I’m very much looking forward to it. I set my return date to the day after my kids get out of school for the summer. There’s no way I can be home with them again. Plus, I’m just a(n appropriate level) talker, and I get so lonely at home!

  20. Bookworm*

    I’m very much of the “no, let me WFH for forever” but do concede there are tons of arguments for this. My org onboarded several new people and while we were able to flip to a WFH set up relatively easily, there have been concerns about career development, office/team cohesion, etc. for newcomers especially as the WFH set up was done very much on the fly.

    I’ve known people who say they get more work done in the office (understandable) and I certainly have missed the office when (on occasion) the internet has died. In a pandemic, where can I go? I didn’t want to sit inside yet, in the colder months trying to sit outside on a bench with a good enough signal wasn’t going to cut it, either, etc.

    It can work and I think companies really do need to be more flexible and accommodating about this (especially in terms of accessibility) but there are certainly arguments against a remote set up.

  21. CAF07*

    I CANNOT wait to be back in the office. I have a great set up at home, and my partner/dog are here which is nice…but I hate working in the place I live! I feel like I’m living at work, not working from home! We will have a blended schedule this fall, and I can’t wait. I joined a new company during the pandemic so I haven’t even met a lot of these people in person. It’s going to be a HUGE relief to be back amongst people! I feel like I’m losing my mind being stuck at home.

    1. TC*

      Living at work — that’s what it’s felt like for me too. It’s so hard to decompress when the zoom box is just staring at me from my kitchen table. I’m going back to my office full time next week and I’m going to miss my cat and my husband, but they’ll still be here when i get home.

  22. HoHumDrum*

    Can’t wait to go back, for so, so many reasons:
    – My work is collaborative and working in proximity to my colleagues/our equipment is just sooo much easier
    – I need my commute to help me transition into and out of the work day
    – My home is for fun and relaxing, I don’t like to cross the streams
    – It’s also small with no decent dedicated work space and I’m tired of tripping over boxes of work supplies in my living room
    – I can’t concentrate at home, managing my executive dysfunction at home is 10x harder than when I’m at an office
    – I miss when my job paid for my daytime utilities & similar costs instead of me :(

    I really could go on and on. I like parts of the flexibility of working from home, and I looove being able to wake up later, but on the whole the pros of being in-person far outweigh the cons for me. I’m thankful I even had the option but I’m pleased to be returning.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      I’ve been in the office except for the 3 days we tried WFH and concluded that I have one of those positions that just can’t be done effectively (or for some duties at all) from home.
      I found during those days that not only was my spouse spectacularly bad at “leave me alone I’m working” but I really missed the commute, I had no time to decompress and let go of work things.

    2. Gladly in person again*

      This post makes me feel so heard after being laid of mid COVID I took a job that was in my wheelhouse but fully remote and my mental health took a massive nose dive. I have been in my industry for nearly a decade, but it is too fast passed, too reactive and too collaborate to efficiently function remotely (global logistics). I am too used to be able to hop over to a colleagues desk to confirm a customs detail or pull in collogues for immediate help during a massive fire. Now we were all spread out in different offices, timezones, working hours and all the Slack, zoom and text messages could not even come close to keeping a day close to normal length. My days were easily 2 hours every day longer than they should have been. I basically needed to be on 24/7 because so many colleagues used remote work to work different hours. I left that job to take one in person in NYC before I was fully vaccinated because my mental health completely deteriorated. It is so frustrating when people discuss never working in the office again or how choosing to work in person (when your theoretically do not) makes you reckless. I was in a very bad place working from home so I needed to make a choice that was healthy for me.
      And sure it is lovely that when you work remotely you do not need to dress up and you can hang out with your pets/kids more – but if this persisted long term I would have easily needed to add 10-15 hours per week to my job due to the inefficiency of being off-site. And that cuts into my time with my kid. I think the very vocal group of WFH forever crowd need to stop and think if their output effects other departments – and remember that it could be choosing to take a 2 hour walk mid day means a colleague now needs to be on email from 7a to 7p and how their loud voice may not be universal.

      1. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

        I have this issue too! A lot of my work is collating work from different people and putting it into one spreadsheet/pack/document etc. But with wfh, people can easily avoid the emails they don’t want to see, with no repurcussions, so it’s taking me 2-3 times as long to do this as it would if I could loom over them.

        When people tell me “oh work from home is great, there are no distracting people coming by my desk” it drives me crazy! You not responding to those distractions is making someone else’s job significantly harder!

    3. HoHumDrum*

      Also I just want to say that I notice that sometimes the things people dislike about working in an office are actually less about working in an office and a lot more about the struggles of work culture in general, or capitalism specifically. If your company treats you poorly at the office I’m guessing they’ll eventually figure out how to treat you badly at home too.

    4. Tek5508*

      “– My home is for fun and relaxing, I don’t like to cross the streams” – that sums up my attitude perfectly!

    5. Groove Bat*

      I wish I had an office to go back to. My company has always been 95% remote, but we did have a couple of small satellite offices scattered around the country. I worked from home for about five years, and the only thing that made it bearable was that I was traveling a lot. Then I moved to a location that had one of our satellite offices and enjoyed it so much more. Now I’m in a different location with no satellite office, which means I’m stuck at home for good. I am miserable and I hate it. I love my job, but I hate my work situation.

  23. ecnaseener*

    Big +1 for the mentoring aspect Alison mentioned. I so miss popping into my manager’s office to talk through a problem, chatting for a few extra minutes :(

    1. MechE*

      This is huge for me. There are things I want to bring up with my management that are easy to do in a drive by that can’t be done virtually. If I can’t judge the person’s mood, I don’t know whether or not to bring up a topic.

    2. Allypopx*

      Definitely. My manager is happy to hop on a call but it’s so different to just be like “UGH I just got this awful email” and talk through it in real time.

    3. Reba*

      Yeah, I feel this! I think I’ve gotten some of the “quick drive by” conversation with peer level people through chat or quick calls. But it’s not the same with my boss, and there are things I’d love to get her take on that don’t rise to the level of “let’s schedule a time for this.”

  24. DocVonMittens*

    I’ve worked remotely for the past 6+ years pre pandemic. I’m currently actively looking for a new job and, oddly enough, have decided that I’d like to either work fully in office or hybrid.

    This pandemic has made a lot of employers more flexible about work which made me realize what I really love about being remote isn’t necessarily working remotely, but having flexibility. Now workplaces are more open to that so I’m excited to go back to in-person.

    I miss the camaraderie, effortless collaboration, and structure of an office. I don’t miss the strict 9-5 mentality but as long as I can have flexible working hours and some days from home, I’m happy to go back.

    1. MechE*

      +1 for effortless collaboration. There is nothing quite like sitting in a physical space with coworkers and diving into a problem. What takes an hour over Teams can take twenty minutes on a whiteboard.

      Agree on camaraderie as well. I like my coworkers, a lot. I wouldn’t work where I work if I didn’t. I miss seeing them.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        +1 for in-person brainstorming and whiteboarding. We’re making it work remotely, but there are definitely times I miss just being able to throw ideas around in a more informal, in-person way.

        1. allathian*

          Yep, definitely for brainstorming and whiteboarding. That said, 99 percent of my job doesn’t require any synchronous collaboration, but we do have quarterly brainstorming sessions, and those are more pleasant and productive in person.

    2. IgnisDivine*

      This; I think flexibility is what a lot of people need. Many people want to work from home forever, many want to go back in person forever, and the rest of us are wondering why not a hybrid schedule/both? Much of my job doesn’t need to be done between 8am-5pm. Aside from meetings, let us have our cake and eat it too.

      1. allathian*

        My job’s pretty much been like that already, at least when it comes to working hours. That said, a couple of members of my team were at a remote office, so even when most of us were at HQ, we had meetings on Skype. It’s a much more level playing field that way when everyone’s online than when most people are in a conference room and one or two are dialing in.

  25. Ann Perkins*

    I’ve been mostly in-office this whole time and am very ready to start returning to events that are not on zoom. Most of our office would come in, but we have a large office with more room than needed, and would still do our meetings via zoom rather than in person. Our state has had the vaccine readily accessible and most of my coworkers have gotten it. I’m excited for normalcy. I’m not even much of an extrovert but the relational aspect of my job is much easier when I see people in person regularly.

    I might push for a little bit of WFH though, just to have quiet days to get work done, and I have young kids so it’s nice to have days at home alone while they’re at school as a change of pace. One thing I’ve been very glad of is that so many employers have realized that work can be done at home.

  26. Beluga Obscura*

    I don’t have an office job so this is not something I’ll be dealing with (my partner will be, eventually) but I’m interested to see if hybrid becomes the norm, will teams decide which days to come in together so that they aren’t missing each other. Or schedule the meetings on certain days? Is that what people are looking for? I’d be bummed to travel into work only to realise my team was all staying home and I’d still be on zoom regardless!

    1. ecnaseener*

      I hope it’ll work out that we get to come in on the same days as the rest of our team, but some of what I’m hearing is the opposite — they want us to stagger days among ourselves.

  27. Sarah*

    I’m so torn about it all! On one hand I am super excited to go back to the office. I genuinely like my coworkers, and I am stepping into a new role that would be much more difficult to learn if I was fumbling by on my own. Our office is located downtown, and I LOVE having so many options for lunches or after work drinks with friends.

    That being said, I really wish our company would’ve adopted a hybrid schedule for returning. It is SO NICE to not use PTO for things like waiting at home for repair people. It has greatly improved my family’s quality of life for me to be able to pop a load of laundry in or unload the dishwasher or prep dinner during a 10-15 break during the day. Even just the option of one or two days WFH each week would have been a HUGE deal.

    Has anyone decided to use the return to work as an opportunity to renegotiate WFH (either full or part time)?

    1. FedUpFranny*

      I don’t know how this will sound, but I had a really vicseral response to your comment. I have been in the office every day in the last year and it still amazes me that people expect this kind of flexibility without saying what they are willing to give up for it. We have not been able to be at home and the rare vacation/PTO day has definitely been deducted when we miss work. Are there things you are willing to negotiate on for the ability to avoid using PTO like any hourly employees are forced to?

  28. hesitant but...*

    I’m perm WFH, with (pre-covid) quarterly-ish site visits. I started this job in January 2020, and have met most of my coworkers in person once, mayyyybe twice. Some started in the middle of all of this and take video meetings in a conference room, so I haven’t seen their unmasked faces! Right now we’re just waiting on sites to have enough money to pay for travel expenses, and I’m ready to go. Hoping by the end of summer.

  29. A Library Person*

    You’re definitely not alone! I left a lengthy comment on another post about this, but WFH is not a great option for me in terms of my ability to focus and my working style, and so much of my work involves physical materials that cannot be taken home that I was initially left scrambling to find anything to do last March (though I am grateful that we did transition to WFH at that time, when so little was known about the virus and transmission). I’ve been back at the office for a while and it has been a huge help for my mental health and my productivity.

  30. Anon-mama*

    My spouse is eagerly awaiting going back. So many processes or networks are just slower. A pop by a cubicle can get an answer to finish a task in 15 minutes then an hour if the coworker didn’t see the message on Slack. We don’t have a home office, so if the kids are home, it’s doubly hard. You’re definitely not alone, and it’s not weird.

  31. Liz the Comm Manager*

    My brother has been ready to return to his office for months now. He won’t be back until July and he’s counting the days. I’ve worked in person since I started my job in November and we constantly wish for the others’ policy.

  32. MechE*

    Yes. Oh my god yes. I’ve always known I am more effective in the office, but I never realize how much I need to work in one for my own sanity. I enjoy interacting with coworkers, the social aspect of work, and seeing people that I work with. It is easier to brainstorm in the office as well when we are in the same space. It is easier to have situational awareness of what is going on across the organization when you run into folks coming into and out of meetings in other buildings (I work on a 5000+ person corporate campus) and are able to talk for a few minutes about life. I even miss my commute! It is a great opportunity to decompress and leave the office behind.

    If I were told that we were moving to full time telework, I’d quit. If I were deciding between two jobs, one WFH and one in an office, I’d take the office job even if it paid significantly less.

  33. Dust Bunny*

    My job is much easier and more interesting when I’m in the office; the only things I can do from home are the most tedious, and I have to do without the double monitors I have at work. I didn’t change the rest of my schedule that much–I get up at the same time, go for a walk instead of commuting, etc.–and I always get dressed in the morning unless I’m so sick I’m not planning to get up at all, so there was no transition to and then back from pajama pants. But I’m lucky to work in a quiet environment with reasonable people.

    I don’t miss the commute, but that’s the only thing I preferred about WFH.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Wow, kudos to you for having so much discipline! I kept up with evening walks to replace the commute for a few weeks but got lazy about it in the winter. And morning walks? Forget it! These days I’m impressed with myself if I finish breakfast before work starts.

  34. Dee*

    This week has been one of the first times I’ve actually felt really frustrated by working from home. I’ve felt like some of my colleagues are less and less cognisant that I have a life outside of work. People can’t see when you’re having a rough day. It’s more difficult to communicate small frustrations without body language or facial expressions. It’ll be so good to go back and get those things back!

  35. Anhaga*

    My office actually came back waaaaaay long ago (last June) because we’re a small office and everyone has individual offices with windows that we can open. We love being back. I really love being able to work at the office so that home can be home, not home and work all at once. It’s much nicer to be able to keep the two separate. And I like my colleagues (fortunately, since there are fewer than 10 of us). Plus, I have a short, enjoyable commute that allows me to get a little exercise in, so going to work helps me be more active.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Same, we’ve been back for a long time. Except we don’t have windows in our individual offices, which stinks! I miss being able to move about more freely in the before times. Now we don’t spend any time in the hallway, just quickly get from point A to point B if we need to pop out. I’m looking forward to being more normal in our office now that we’re vaccinated! It will make things feel so much more relaxed and not like we have to avoid each other.

  36. A Teacher*

    High School Teacher so we came back with students part way through the year. I was really happy to be back in my classroom because my job does NOT lend itself to being done at home. I have all of my supplies and equipment at school. The computer set up to livestream is better too. I was happy to be back in person.

  37. Bookartist*

    Something I haven’t seen anyone talk about – and maybe that’s because I am a very small minority on this – is that work doesn’t *belong* at home. Work is work, and home is the place where my boss does not / ought not to intrude. I can’t wait to bring back this separation in my own life.

    1. Coder von Frankenstein*

      YES. This. I don’t know if you are a minority, but you are certainly not alone.

    2. NeutralJanet*

      I think a lot of people feel that way! I’m fortunate enough to have enough space in my home that I can have a designated Work Area where I keep my work computer and all accoutrements, and I’m non-exempt, so I completely ignore all work things after my work day ends, but most of the people I know who aren’t able to maintain those rigid separations for whatever reason are definitely finding that WFH is starting to feel like work always, everywhere.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I thank my good fortune every day that I have a home office and at the end of the day I can shut the door! Also, because I am vain, I put in some effort to make it look nice on video calls (i know it sucks that the employer is in my home, but again, vain). In terms of physical comfort, my home office is WAY ahead of the office office. But I will welcome the opportunity to increase the separation of these parts of my life even more.

    3. voyager1*

      100% agree. I want work and home separate. I feel I never actually leave work now since my laptop and everything are right here… at home.

  38. seriousmoonlight*

    Ugh, I am so sick of the prevailing narrative that no one wants to go back to the office! I do! We have limited staff in the office now and are rotating in the office a day or two a week, so it’s been to good to be in some days, but I am really looking forward to going back full time. I feel much more of a sense of purpose when I go to the office and as someone who lives alone, working from home can be lonely. I’ve missed my work clothes, all the chit chat, having a commute as a buffer between work and home, seeing the students I work with in person, and those fun spontaneous brain storming conversations that can really only happen with people randomly run into each other in the hallway.

    1. MechE*

      Agreed on the narrative getting old. When I tell people that I will quit my job if I’m not allowed to go back into the office 4+ days a week, they look at me like I’m nuts.

  39. Tyche*

    My office only worked from home part time for a few months. Most of the time I’ve gone to the office regularly and it’s been clear now that remote work is only for extenuating circumstances, like being sick or kids or something along those lines. I was feeling resistant and I was hoping we would be able to do a hybrid schedule at least, but it’s obvious there’s a lack of trust.

    Regardless, I’m starting at a new company June 1st. I was looking for unrelated reasons. It’s full time in person but I’m looking forward to it. I feel like it would be difficult to be new and remote at the same time. I enjoyed my time wfh and I’d probably like to do it part time, but I do like interacting with my coworkers which can be much harder when you’re remote.

  40. Rachel*

    I am back in the office week 2 and I am glad to be back! Right now the plan is 3 days in office and 2 at home per week and I think that this will be the new schedule for the rest of my time working for this company. I felt like I missed out on the social aspect of work and also the open floorplan that my boss can just ask me a question anytime.

  41. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    I never worked from home, although almost everyone in my office did. There were a few who couldn’t work from home, and I was up-front in saying that I’d much prefer to stay in the office, but could and would WFH if my employer mandated it. But I was afraid I wouldn’t be as productive at home. The routine of GOING SOMEWHERE changes my mindset – so I’m GOING TO WORK, and will arrive at work ready to do that. Plus, I can be easily distracted by my pets, or the mess on the counter, or whatever, so I was worried that would affect my productivity if I went home. Plus, I love my husband to bits, but cannot spend 24/7 with anyone for too long, so coming in and having other people, even if it’s only a few, to talk to and interact with has been great. My employer was good about safety measures, as well, and the few of us left in the office have been respectful about it – and I think all of us are vaccinated now, too.

    Having said all that, I’m also excited to have other people back in the office! I have become closer to the few that have stayed this whole time, but a little variety would be good, too! And I say this as a not-particularly-social person!

  42. Looking Forward to It!*

    I am! I started a new job in a new city in November 2019, and I still feel so disconnected and “new.” I’ve really realized how much of my memory depends on physically going to a specific location in the office or seeing a specific face to do a certain task (like going to so-and-so to solve a problem.) I just can’t retain who does what when every interaction is basically just a blank email. I also really miss those moments when you overhear a colleague talking and think, “Oh, hey, I’m working on something related. We can collaborate!” I feel so siloed and out-of-the-loop, even on things happening on my own team. Maybe it would have been different if so much of my team wasn’t new before going remote, but it’s been hard to try to build out communication processes and and get to know each other while we’re all anxious about the state of the world.
    But for my actual job responsibilities, I feel like all of my tools but one have been taken away. I’m a fundraiser, so all the events and coffee dates and campus tours that I would usually use to get to know donors are gone, replaced by cold outreach and faceless introductory phone calls–that is, if anyone feels like picking up the phone and talking to a stranger during a worldwide pandemic.
    There’s talk of going back hybrid (although we don’t know exactly what that entails) in the summer, and now that everyone on my team is vaccinated, I can’t wait. I CAN wait to put on real pants, though.

    1. Looking Forward to It!*

      Also, I’m an introvert and live alone, so you would think 15 months of this would be a dream. You’d think wrong.

      1. (Former) HR Expat*

        So much this! I’m an introvert as well, but that doesn’t mean I want to be alone all the time. I may have needed to recharge after a full day at the office, but that’s what my home down time was for. Not being able to go to an office or “get away” from my apartment has been difficult.

        I enjoy certain aspects of working from home, but I like the ability to see my colleagues and leave my home to go to the office (including the mental prep and decompression). I’m hoping that long-term my company will have some sort of hybrid schedule that will give flexibility.

      2. Heather*

        Seconded. Although it seems on the internet a lot of people say “introvert” when they mean “socially anxious”. I can’t wait to be around colleagues again…and then coming back to my nice quiet house to recharge.

      3. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        I always thought I was an introvert. I’m not. I live alone and am so sick of my own company. And I miss the ice machine!

      4. TSP*

        This is so incredibly true. I never thought I could be lonely as an introvert but I’ve learned over the last year that YES you absolutely can be. I live alone with no family in the area, so that just compounds it.

        When I first went back to the office and we ate (a socially distant) lunch together, I realized it was the first face to face conversation I’d had in almost six months.

        That’s just not healthy, even for an introvert.

        1. allathian*

          You’re right, it’s not healthy.

          I’m an introvert and normally I wouldn’t say I have social anxiety, although currently I suspect I’ve bought into the “other people are potentially dangerous to your health, stay at home” thing a bit too much. I’ve also cocooned comfortably at home because I hate wearing a mask and prefer to stay at home if the alternative is to go somewhere with the mask on. But when it’s safe to go to the office without a mask, I’ll happily go 1 or 2 days a week.

  43. Shhhh*

    I’m with you, LW! I’m trying to be a good advocate for my colleagues who don’t want to return because I think the last year+ has proven that our work can be done from home…but that doesn’t mean I want to work from home for the rest of my career.

    I love the office. I have loved offices since I was a little kid. My mom is a paralegal and I used to take my homework downtown to her office on weekends while she had to work on stuff. I would sit at an empty secretary’s desk or in an empty office for hours. I would help her collate documents and put things into binders when I didn’t have anything to work on.

    I’ve never been able to focus on school or work work in my living space. I did probably 90% of my homework in college and grad school in a library or coffee shop or dorm lounge. I need to get out and be around people who are also trying to get something done.

    And since I started working, I’ve learned how much I value having coworkers right there. Even if I’m not actively working with them, just knowing they’re around helps me focus my energy. Even coming home to my parents’ during this time has helped me be more productive than I would’ve been alone in my apartment because I can hear their work calls.

    I’m chomping at the bit to go back. I love the office environment and just badly want to be in it. I’m fully vaccinated and continue to wear a mask so I’m no longer afraid of getting a bad case of COVID, so I’m 100% ready. I know a lot of people aren’t and that’s okay. But the sooner my org lets me go in, the better.

    1. Kyubey*

      I love my office too, and I don’t know about others, but I have to put myself mentally into “work mode” in a way, and I just can’t do that at home. I get into my work mode by getting dressed and leaving the house, being in a different environment like an office, library or even a coffee shop. I’m so much less productive at home, and it shows in my work unfortunately.

      1. le teacher*

        Same for me! It is really, really difficult for me to get work done at home. When I am home, I feel like there are so many other fun things I’d rather be doing. I’d rather be watching TV, reading, painting my nails, playing with my cat, playing a board game with my husband, taking a walk, baking muffins, etc. At work, I am way more focused. I’ve always been like this.

        1. Kyubey*

          Same, as someone easily distracted, the temptation to turn on the tv for a bit while it’s slow, or get up and clean a bit/throw in a load of laundry/start dinner early is hard to resist. Being at work prevents this happening to me.

    2. HoHumDrum*

      Ooh I love that you mentioned how you did work in college because I was the same way- I prefer to work in an office, and in school I preferred to work at a library/coffee shop/common room. I find being alone and quiet waaaay more distracting. Just being near other people hard at work helps me focus and do what I need to.

      1. Shhhh*

        It’s been particularly hard because I’m in a tenure track position (academic librarian). I have to produce research and doing academic work at home is just so antithetical to the environment I’d prefer to do it in.

        1. Gloucesterina*

          That sounds like a fascinating job–I would love to hear more about a day-in-the-life for you and how you go about your writing!

  44. Colorado*

    We are going back to a hybrid model which I am very excited about. We also have a lot of in office perks like catered lunches, free beverages and snacks, nice working spaces, a locker room, and right on a beautiful bike path. But I don’t fit into any of my “work” clothes after being home and putting on the pounds for 15 months and am embarrassed about that. That’s sadly my only reservation. And the cost of gas that I will be dumping into my 50 minutes each way commute, but I’m still excited..

  45. rebecca*

    My office is reopening in mid-June for those who are fully vaxxed, but we’re allowed to be as flexible as we want–in office full time, hybrid, or remote full time. Most of my team seems to be in agreement that they want to be in office maybe 1 day a week, maybe 2, to see people and work together. (I’m not one of them; I’m disabled and remote work has been the biggest improvement to my quality of life I’ve had in over a decade.) Nobody wants to be in office full time anymore, but most of my team would like to see each other on a regular basis.

  46. Coder von Frankenstein*

    The biggest thing that I miss is having a clear psychological delineation between “at work” and “at home.”

    WFH is certainly easier logistically. No commute, no concerns about parking, I can make lunch in my own kitchen, and I can take a ten-minute power nap to clear my head when I need it. But home seeps into work, and work seeps into home, in a way that doesn’t really happen when I have an office.

    And I am sick unto death of Zoom meetings.

    1. Allypopx*

      Definitely. That’s where my WFH burnout came from. I have an office but it’s still in my house and it’s so hard to feel like you’re ever “off the clock”.

    2. DrSalty*

      Yes very much. At home, it’s too easy to just keep working late into the evening because it’s there and convenient. If I’m in the office, I have to prioritize finishing up in time to go home and meet my spouse for dinner.

      1. Software Dev*

        I always find this interesting because I definitely work shorter hours with WFH—since I don’t worry about looking bad with leaving early (since no one really knows if I am ‘working’) or about dodging the rush hour traffic, I basically just stop work when I get tired of working/reach a good stopping point for the day.

        1. allathian*

          People know if I’m working or not, at least if they look me up on Skype, but luckily my org is very big on flexibility and management trusts us to get our jobs done. Sure, some flake out, but the default is to trust until someone’s shown that they can’t be trusted. As long as I get things done within agreed timelines I can pretty much set my own hours.

          When I’m done working for the day, I log off and very rarely think about work when I’m not actually working. But I’m privileged, I have a home office to work in and I can’t see my work computer when I’m sitting on the couch in our living room…

        2. DrSalty*

          Well my work is very deadline driven, so there is an innate pull towards getting as much done as possible in a day. It takes work to consciously fight it and maintain boundaries. Being at home full time makes it harder.

  47. Taco Cat*

    I’m ready to go back! I have a new employee I’ve seen once in person and he’s been working for me over a year. I miss the face to face collaboration and I can’t wait to sit at a real desk and get out of my living room. I want my dining room table back!

    I truly think some things have fallen through the cracks even though we’ve been successful as a whole at my company working from home. That being said, this has made me open minded to support my team working from home more often. Standard used to be one day a week, now I can see it being 2-4 but I’m excited to go back to the office the majority of the time, I need out of my tiny house.

  48. Chris*

    I’m in a bit of an odd situation in that I started a new job a few months ago, so I’ve never had a chance to be “in the office” with this employer. Heck, I’ve never even seen the office space where I’ll be working.

    WFH has been pretty good for me and I enjoy the flexibility it brings, but I do find myself looking forward to being able to go into the office and meet my colleagues in person. This will also involve a long-distance move for me, so one element is just an eagerness to get on with the next phase of my life, as opposed to returning to the office per se.

    All that said, I’m certainly planning to push for a good deal of flexibility in when and how I’m able to work. I want to be able to go in to the office, but I’d be a lot less enthused about being there 9-5, Monday through Friday.

    1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      Same here – I was hired in October so I’ve never been to the campus or met my boss and coworkers outside of Teams meetings. We’re a mostly cameras off group too, and some of my coworkers don’t even have a profile picture, so I have no idea what they even look like. After 25 years of butts-in-seats office jobs, it’s really weird to feel like I barely know anyone I work with after nearly 8 months.

      Word on the street is that we will be given the option to do whatever – stay home, in the office 100% or hybrid. Although I would be fine with WFH permanently, as a new employee I really feel like it’s best to get some face time with my team and boss on a regular basis. I think 2 days in the office and 3 days WFH would be a really good mix, and I hope to get the opportunity to do so by the end of this summer.

  49. sharmand3r*

    I’ve had to work from the office on-and-off during this time (my team deals with car titles, so we have to receive them in the mail). When no one is in the office, it’s been frustrating having to come in to do almost the same things I had done at home, but now that more people are coming back, it’s been more fun! Working back in the office reminded me why I liked my team and my company… and how much I’ve missed them over the past 15 months. I’m glad we had the option to WFH during the pandemic, and while I do want some flexibility, working with half the team in and half out will be a challenge.

  50. Butterfly Counter*

    I teach, but after a nice long mental break from EVERYTHING, I am so happy to have a least a few of my classes back in person. For me, I come across online as a lot more curt and inflexible than I really am, so students tend not to like me as much (and the evaluations show it), and my students seem more whiney and less engaged as well. Seeing them in person will help me actually LIKE them again.

    And I’ve discovered 100% online work tends to make me forget there are actual other people who live in our world. When everyone but your SO is just words on a screen or, much more rarely, a video, they don’t seem like real people, but characters in a story. I’m so happy to be getting back to actual interactions that make me feel part of an actual world rather than a viewer in some weird interactive, boring computer game.

  51. Colette*

    I have mixed feelings about going back. I do miss the social contact – seeing the same people every day, chatting about our lives, stopping by a former colleague’s desk to ask a question, etc. I don’t miss the commute. (My commute was fine, but I like being home when work is over.)

    I have space to have a desk at home, but that might change over the next couple of years as my nieces hit university age.

    But for me, work would be much easier if everyone else goes back, but actually harder if a significant portion of the groups I work with stays home (and I don’t think everyone is going to go back.)

    In my experience, working on all remote teams (which is what we’re doing with everyone home) is fine; working on co-located teams is fine; working on teams that are partially remote and partially co-located doesn’t work well.

  52. Selina Luna*

    I’m a teacher and at my school, we’ve been in person with the students off and on since January. However, I’ve been physically coming into my classroom at least 2 days a week since August. And I can tell you: I might be able to work from home if my kiddo were older, but it is almost impossible to work from home with an infant. Not only am I doing better work now, but my son is also getting way more interaction at daycare. When it was just the three of us at home, his best friends were the dog, me, his dad, and Elmo in that order.

  53. Allypopx*

    I went back to my office voluntarily once I was vaccinated. My boss never mentioned it, I just let her know I was planning on it and made sure there weren’t any weird logistics to take care of.

    I knew it was going to be difficult, physically (I have bad knees and a difficult walking portion of my commute. Literally uphill both ways!) and wanted to get used to it before the weather was sweltering. I also just had gotten to the point where my concentration working from home was completely zapped, and my work load was increasing as normalcy started to return. I feel much better getting dressed every day, having a routine, and going into the office to work. I’ve even been able to leave early occasionally because I’m so much more productive in the office.

    I’ve also gotten to see people again! People who also work in the building where my office is, people playing with their dogs in the morning (admittedly the dogs are the more exciting part of that). It’s not exactly “back to normal”, and I miss some things – cuddling with my dog, being able to do laundry or a quick load of dishes during the day, unscheduled naps – but overall it’s a big improvement.

  54. Dumpster Fire*

    High school teacher here – I’ve been teaching from my classroom all year, fully remote from October into February, then hybrid (but with really low numbers of kids in school) until late April. Now we have most of our students back, and it’s SO much better! (Most of us – the teachers, that is – are vaccinated, so the fear of contracting Covid is minimized. And we have free weekly testing so I don’t have to worry much about bringing it to my mom….) Even though the kids are still pretty quiet, just seeing them and not feeling like a babbling idiot talking to myself and 30 Zoom boxes – it’s really making me look forward to next year when hopefully we’ll be a lot closer to normal.

    1. Flower necklace*

      I’m a high school teacher, too, and seeing my students in person makes so much of a difference! I’ve been coming in person all year because there were a small number of my students in the building while most of the school was virtual. Even though they’re doing classes online, they work so much better when they’re around other people. Some teachers complain only a few of their students show up – I regularly have classes with 10 or more in them. They know they need it.

      I definitely prefer the social aspect of being at work, too. My department is great. I really missed being able to chat with them during planning and at lunch.

  55. La Triviata*

    I’ve been coming in to the office all along. I prefer it – it gives my life structure, gives me a reason to get up, shower, put on real clothes. And it’s been good to have someone in the office to deal with mail and some emergencies. A number of other people have come in for brief periods to pick up things, deal with things they can’t manage at home. My boss was in earlier and he’s eager to get back in the office. I think some people may want to make WFH a permanent thing; our CEO has said that this will have to be determined on a case by case basis, but we had two people move out of the area, so they’re permanently working remotely. A lot will depend on how things go, but I’m sure there will be more flexibility for WFH in the future. I suggested that we have half the staff come in Monday-Wednesday-Friday one week, Tuesday-Thursday the next week, with the other half reversing that … which seemed to be well received.

    1. 867-5309*

      My natural state is total flexibility, which without the structure of going into an office, has manifested itself into less productivity, worse diet, and so forth. I accomplish far more when my life has a thread of structure, even if it is overall less time.

      Also, I am an introverted extrovert. So while I need more alone time than the average extrovert, my energy comes from other people. Working home alone has been isolating – and I’m less creative. (At the start of the pandemic last year, I went months with a hug or touch from another human. It was heart breaking and threw my depression and anxiety into overdrive.)

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        I went 13 months without a hug or touch. I also had a total mental health breakdown. Not surprising. (I’ve been hugged and mentally feeling better now.)

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’ve also been coming into the office all along, and I am so, so glad I have. Pretty sure I’d have gone crazy being all alone all day every day in my apartment.

      I’ve been delaying a job search because I don’t want to work from home at the new job. Seems like it’s about time to start looking!

  56. A little of this, a little of that*

    I’m thrilled that my workplace is being radically flexible about this. My dream is to be in person 2-3 days/week and WFH the rest of time, and it seems like that won’t be a problem for my organization. I miss seeing colleagues, I miss being out of my apartment and all its kid clutter, I miss my big work computer. But I will also be glad to keep the days when I can WFH if I have a cold, if there are chores that I need to be home to take care of, or if I just don’t want to deal with real pants that day.

  57. Sparkly Librarian*

    I’ve been working onsite 3-5 days/week since last June, but we only recently began to admit the public again, in a limited capacity. It’s gone fine, but it is still not back to “normal” with the in-person group programs that make this profession worth it for me! Although I am not in a HURRY to restart programs, and want to be safe doing so, I’m very much looking forward to storytime again.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      As an avid library patron, I too cannot wait for in-person events to resume! My tweens still attend zoom tween book club, but omg it was so great in person with activities and snacks. Love librarians!

  58. Drtheliz*

    I don’t think I’ll be back until the new year (maternity leave) but I will very much enjoy 1. time to myself every day while commuting 2. high speed wired internet 3. convenient access to the remote drive system I share with my office 4. quick discussions with colleagues 5. a well-defined workday.

    I did not miss the time commuting eats, though, or quick Boss drop-ins. Got used to them, but have not missed them.

  59. ChelseaNH*

    Our Big Boss has been pining to be back in the office this whole time — he loves the spontaneous conversations. Fortunately, he’s also a responsible human being, so he hasn’t foisted his preferences on his organization. Most people are still entirely WFH and that will probably continue past September.

  60. Lore*

    I don’t deny that my opinion is colored by the fact that I occupied my new private office (after almost ten years in a poorly design cubicle) for 36 hours before WFH began, but even without that–the tradeoffs of living in NYC are that I don’t have a lot of space, I certainly don’t have outdoor space, but I never really spent that much time here anyway. As my single locale for work, meals, entertainment, sleep, exercise, and everything else, it’s just not big enough. Also, my company did a lot of things brilliantly in the forced leap to WFH, but meeting the specific technology needs of my niche job/tech setup wasn’t one of them, and as we continue to evolve and bring in new software, the workarounds become increasingly challenging to navigate. And I like my coworkers! We problem-solve much more elegantly in a quick cube farm Q&A than in a series of emails and Teams chats. My workplace promises to remain much more friendly to remote work than it ever was before, for which I am grateful–we fought long and hard to get permission for one WFH day per week, which was finally approved in early 2020–and I will certainly be taking advantage of that 2-ish days a week, both for sustained concentration and for all the domestic stuff like laundry and the gym, but I will be so excited to be between different walls, required to go outside and move around every day, etc. I also know that inertia is a powerful force in me; if I’m at home, I stay at home and all the other tasks of life start to seem impossibly arduous. If I’m out and about, I’m about ten times more likely to even do stuff like clean when I get home, because I’m in motion. I’ve been in motion far too little for far too long now, and I’m ready for the shift.

  61. MechE*

    One thing I am really looking forward to in the office is access to a printer. For security reasons we can’t use personal ones with a work devices and for logistical reasons we can’t purchase a printer for all those who want them. I miss having paper copies of the documents.

    1. Rocket Woman*

      THIS! When the pandemic first started I was 100% work from home. I returned on site part time in the summer of 2020 and have been coming in at least part time ever since, and having a printer is so much easier. It is really hard for me to thoroughly review my drawings on a screen when I can’t mark them up how I like to!

      1. MechE*

        Since you brought up marking up drawings, that is mainly the situation to which I was referring! When I have to review drawings (or any technical document) I want to print them all out, grab a pen, sit outside, and mark them up to my hearts content. If I don’t have the ability to do that it really bums me out. Printed documents are also great for comparing revisions. So many things are best done (for me) with a hard copy.

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I don’t understand why computers have progressed from being only accessible to tech-savvy folks in the 1990s to being easily usable by children and the elderly today, while printer manufacturers have made zero progress since 1990. In 2021, a 3-year-old can use a tablet with minimal help, but printers are still nearly unusable if you don’t have a full-time IT department to constantly troubleshoot them.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I don’t print much and I’m able to use my home printer, but I have to occasionally mail things and it’s a pain in the ass not having a full shelf of different sized branded envelopes. I don’t mind using stamps instead of a postage label, but I had to mail a business document in a bright teal padded envelope last week because it’s all I had in the house. So embarrassing!

  62. Unkempt Flatware*

    I think it will be good for me to go back in but I really don’t see why I need to spend 40 hours a week at my office. What I hope this experience has showed us is that we should be given more flexibility. I have almost all but kicked my insomnia and I worry that a strict schedule will make all the progress for naught. I hope to be able to spend 3-5 at the office or perhaps a couple of days a week just to avoid remote VPN nonsense for some of my systems. I also noticed that I get a second wind around 6 or 7 each night and want to be able to ride my productivity waves as they come.

  63. J3*

    Rest assured you are not alone! :) I’m something like 3 times more productive and 5 times happier working in the office so I’m so thrilled to be mostly back now that I’m fully vaxxed. HOWEVER, I am trying to be circumspect in the ways that I express it in order to give solidarity to colleagues who want/need to stay WFH and are getting pressure to return. It feels a sort of narrow line to walk in this regard between talking about my own experience, and veering into vaguely scabbish territory.

  64. Cat Tree*

    I miss the office AND I don’t want to go back yet. I hate working from home because it’s much harder to do my job. But I’m also unwilling to endanger myself and others by going back prematurely. It’s possible to feel two conflicting things at the same time.

    Fortunately for me, I work for a place that I can trust to handle this correctly and safely. For example, on site employees are still required to wear masks even as states are removing the mandates. They will continue to follow the data and bring everyone back when it’s truly safe to do so. Also fortunately, it looks like we’re finally getting the pandemic under control in my area. The benefit of the vaccines appears to outweigh the risk of reopening everything at full capacity without mask requirements. The county’s positive test race has dropped below 5% for the first time since September 2020 and I am thrilled. Things are moving in the right direction. But we’re not quite there yet and I’d rather continue working from home for now even though it’s harder for me.

    1. starsaphire*

      I’m conflicted on this too! I’m not sure if what I want is for *me* to go back to the office… or for everyone *else* in my house to go back to work/school and let me work in peace and quiet for a change.

    2. Guacamole Bob*


      I’m looking forward to going back… eventually. It doesn’t feel quite safe yet in my area to fully open up, my kids still don’t have school 5 days a week, it’ll be a whole IT process to go back for complicated reasons, and my office was in the middle of relocating when the pandemic hit so we won’t be returning to the same office configuration that we left. Child care still feels precarious because kids can’t get vaccinated so if there’s a case at their school or camp they’re suddenly home for two weeks. Some kinds of travel still come with quarantine recommendations (at least if you take your unvaccinated kids with you). Case rates are falling, but anyone who’s immunocompromised is probably still on high alert at current levels.

      I think Labor Day is going to be about right, here, when the vast majority of kids go back to normal full-time school and hopefully case rates feel like they’ve really stayed low for a while. And I’m very much looking forward to being back in the office when it does feel right, at least a few days a week.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, even as many adults get vaccinated, I don’t think we’ll truly be back to normal until vaccines are approved for kids too. Labor Day sounds about right for the US based on the current rate of vaccine approvals.

    3. AspiringGardener*

      If you’re vaccinated it is drastically very, very unlikely that you are going to endanger yourself or others by returning to the office – mask or no mask.

      1. bluephone*

        Exactly, this! Either vaccines are safe and effective and will help us return to something resembling a pre-COVID normalcy, or they’re no better than the patent medicines of 1905. COVID martyrdom is getting a little tired now.

        1. HelloHello*

          Surely you can understand there’s a middle between perfect and useless? Vaccines work very well but, like almost all medicine, they aren’t 100% guaranteed. It’s incredibly unlikely to get seriously ill from Covid once you’ve been vaccinated, but it’s not impossible, plus there are people who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons who are still at risk. That’s why herd immunity and high vaccination rates are so important, and why it’s wise to still be cautious until those rates increase.

          1. Jesse*

            +1 for HelloHello’s comment. If you don’t NEED to test your vaccine’s effectiveness, why would you? You don’t want to be in that 1% that makes the vaccine’s effectiveness rate 99%.

        2. Julie*

          Wait til people learn about measles. Sure, there’s an effective vaccine thar most people have had but *not everyone*, and it’s an extremely contagious disease with serious complications so you can never be too safe, right?

          Driving to work is obviously off the table forever because the risk to the driver and others from a potential collision is non-zero.

          Shifting goalposts is a never-ending game.

          1. kt*

            During the 2018-2019 school year, about 94.7% of kindergarteners were vaccinated against measles in the US. That’s a pretty big difference from the COVID vaccinations for… any age group at all.

        3. kt*

          There are folks who are immunocompromised who are not sure that their vaccines work. Antibody titers are not showing consistent results for those folks, and may not be accurate due to the different immune responses possible that are responsible for different aspects of immunity.

      2. Cat Tree*

        I’ve had this discussion one million times, and yet people somehow just don’t get it. Nobody can tell from the outside who is vaccinated and who isn’t. What’s not to get about that?

        Bringing people back to work en masse means that some of people will be unvaccinated, which increases the spread. Removing mask mandates for vaccinated people absolutely means that some unvaccinated people will act in bad faith and expose others. This really isn’t a difficult concept, and frankly the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask is treated like it’s a larger burden than the potential to expose vulnerable people to people who are acting in bad faith.

        We don’t need every person to be vaccinated to start returning to work, but we need to have the pandemic under better control. And we’re heading in the right direction! As I mentioned in my comment but you ignored! Well get there but we’re not there yet.

        Listen, the experts at my company (a large healthcare company with actual doctors and epidemiologist making these decisions) knows more about this than you do. So maybe keep your uninformed opinions to yourself for a while, no matter how much you personally hate the horrible tragic burden of wearing a mask and working from home. I’ll listen to the experts over you every time.

        1. AspiringGardener*

          If you are vaccinated you are not going to put others in harms way. Outright stating that vaccinated people need to hole up at home for the next 6 months is inaccurate at best – we’ve done our part, and all of the science points to the conclusion that we are safe to continue our lives.

          If you can’t get vaccinated then you need to take a different set of steps to remain safe. But you can’t say that vaccinated people returning to the office (which was the whole point of this post that you barged into) are actually harming the general public is untrue.

          1. ActualGardener*

            Nowhere did the person you are responding to “Outright stat(e) that vaccinated people need to hole up at home”, so please stop with the straw man argument. Misrepresenting the point being made both makes you look foolish and weakens your argument.

            And accusing someone of “barging into” a post because they left a comment expressing their own thoughts and opinions is ignorant and rude.

            You can do better than this crappy comment.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That “uninformed opinion” mirrors what the CDC is saying. You can disagree with the CDC, of course, but please do not insult people here for agreeing with mainstream public health advice (for that matter, please do not insult people here at all).

      3. Guacamole Bob*

        I think we still don’t really know how likely a vaccinated person is to pass the virus on to those they live with. We know vaccinated people can still contract the virus, though their cases are less serious. It seems likely that the risk of transmission to others is drastically reduced by vaccination, from what I’ve seen, but I haven’t yet seen public health guidance that convinces me that risk is negligible.

        For the millions of parents whose kids can’t get vaccinated yet, especially those whose kids are higher risk, and for the millions of others who live with someone immunocompromised for whom the vaccine is known to be less effective, there’s still a lot of uncertainty.

  65. M*

    I’m already back in the office part time and I love it.

    I was diagnosed with ADHD right before the pandemic. It’s a good thing I was, because I was barely functional working from home *with* meds. I don’t know what I would have done without them. On my least productive office days I get about as much done as I did on my most productive WFH days. (And I’d have about one productive WFH day a week. I genuinely have no idea how I didn’t get fired and somehow managed to get good reviews + a raise and bonus at the end of the year. Part of it was being smart about the work I did get done/always responsive to coworkers/pleasant to work with. BUT STILL.)

    I’m still not at full productivity, mostly because I’m also trying to catch up on a bunch of life stuff that fell by the wayside during COVID. But since I get so much done at the office I’m able to take a lot of time during the week to relax/catch up on housework/go to the dentist/take my cat to the vet. At some point I’ll need to ramp up in productivity, but I think that will come naturally as I ease my way into post-vaccine life.

    Being back in the office is so nice! It’s wonderfully quiet and chill right now and no one sits near me. I have privacy and quiet while I work, but I also get to chat with people in the kitchen and have the occasional face to face meeting. I’m going to be a little sad if people come back and the office returns to being a chaotic open floor plan situation.

    1. Tau*

      I’m autistic and wonder about ADHD (there’s enough symptom overlap that it’s tricky to assess). I really, really hear this part:

      On my least productive office days I get about as much done as I did on my most productive WFH days. (And I’d have about one productive WFH day a week. I genuinely have no idea how I didn’t get fired and somehow managed to get good reviews + a raise and bonus at the end of the year. Part of it was being smart about the work I did get done/always responsive to coworkers/pleasant to work with. BUT STILL.)

      I have been WFH for a year and am bewildered at the fact that nobody seems to have noticed how much less productive I am. I had a review a few weeks ago and it was really good and boss says he’s putting me forward for a raise… just… how? HOW? Like you I tried to be smart and responsive, and I did oscillate between more productive times and “staring blankly at the screen unable to focus” times so it wasn’t like nothing was happening, but still! I was back at the office for a day last week because something came up that meant I couldn’t WFH that day, and it was incredible how much more focused and productive I was than at home. I used to have this every day and I miss it so much :'(

      …and I’m still doing better than my brother, who was forced to quit his job during Corona because he just could not WFH at all and was getting nothing done. Seriously hoping the vaccination roll-out over here will reach a point where he can apply for jobs again soon because there’s no point if he’d have to start remotely but the whole thing has been terrible for his mental health.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        You aren’t the only one wrestling with this kind of thing. The boss may well be comparing you to the average on your team/company rather than to your pre-pandemic self.

        Also, it can be really hard to assess your own performance from the inside. My performance has always been highly variable, with multi-week stretches where I barely get anything done, and multi-week stretches where I knock everyone’s socks off. I find WFH accentuates this pattern, both the highs and the lows: Either I am hyperfocused and there are no coworkers to interrupt me, or I’m unfocused and all the distractions of home are tugging me away. (Recently I’ve come to suspect I also am ADHD, but I haven’t had an official diagnosis.)

        During the drifts, it’s hard to remind myself of the things I got done during the blitzes. And it’s easy to compare myself to people who are head-down, steady all the time, and feel like a slacker. But the boss’s perspective is different.

        (And, according to Alison’s data from a couple days ago, I’m getting paid about 50% of the norm for my field, so I guess 50% productivity is appropriate. Right…?)

      2. Allypopx*

        Yep! ADHD – if I can buckle down for 2-4 hours I can get as much done as some people do in a full day and I just spend the rest of the time…well…reading AAM mostly. I always think I’m wasting massive amounts of times and underperforming but I think that’s more normal than I realize.

    2. Keyboard Cowboy*

      Yep, WFH suuuuuucked on my ADHD. I had been at a very comfy dosage level in the office and since coming to WFH I’ve had to increase/change formulation/etc to even keep up. I miss being able to come to the office and Just Work, and not be distracted by dog/partner/dirty house/kids outside/hobby area/nobody can see me slacking off so i just slack off/etc etc. I cannot wait to be able to go back fulltime.

      1. Keyboard Cowboy*

        It’s also been really weird to see the big overarching narrative for everyone else as “WFH sucks because I can never stop working.” It’s absolutely the opposite for me. Before I moved to a larger space and set up a dedicated office (which I was so privileged to be able to do – holy crap) I only got focused on work about once per week. I had days upon days when I sat in front of my computer for 4 hours doing nothing, then said “fuck this” and shut my laptop and went to play videogames for the rest of the day. No idea how I survived last summer.

        1. Coder von Frankenstein*

          It isn’t mutually exclusive. As I said above, my experience has been that work bleeds into home, but home also bleeds into work.

          So I can get in the zone and work from 9 AM to midnight because there’s nothing to prevent me… or I can never get near the zone because there’s nothing to get me focused and engaged, and nobody to see if I just flop down on the bed for a nap or spend an hour organizing my card collection.

          1. Tau*

            Personally, the bit that gets to me is the constant nagging guilt. I had this during my PhD (when I was also not working eight hour days and really felt I should be) and it was so freeing to be able to go to the office, put in my time, go home and that was it. Now that I’m WFH and now that I’m… also not managing eight hours /o\… that little hissing voice that will randomly go you got nothing done on Thursday, you should make up for it now on a weekend or at 8pm or whenever is back and I hate it a lot.

            1. HoHumDrum*


              I have a really hard time knowing when to start or stop working. When I went into the office my day started when I got to my desk, and I knew it was time to stop working when it was time to go home. If I didn’t get a lot done that day I might feel guilty but I didn’t try to make up for it at home- work day is done at X time and that’s that. But without that clear start and stop I don’t know when to work on my own. If I’m at home and not a lot has gotten done I feel like I can’t stop until Something Productive has happened. Sometimes I will spent until 8,9,10 at night desperately looking for something to complete so I can know I’m done for the day.

    3. HoHumDrum*

      Just wanted to chime in as yet another person with ADHD who does not work well at home. The structure of being in person really helped me focus and get things done, at home I have to use so much energy to stay on track that I barely have any left over to devote to the actual work itself. It was also way harder to forget little things when there were a bunch of other people around me doing the same job (if everyone else is getting up to head to a meeting it’s a pretty helpful cue to me to check my calendar and go with them). I also find reading social cues much harder over zoom or just text and that’s something I struggle enough with in ideal conditions. Truly, ADHD is haaaard at home.

  66. Decidedly Me*

    My partner is excited to go back when it’s time – though will probably do a ramp up to being back full time. While his job has always been completely doable from home, the company, roles, and office set up are really designed for in person collaboration and they’ve had trouble figuring out how to collaborate as well virtually.

  67. Tech Lesbian*

    I’m in a weird space of looking forward to seeing coworkers/being able to work directly in person for some projects as well as missing my work setup, but I absolutely loathed my physical office space. Part of that is because it’s a tiny room I had to share with two people who have no sense of empathy re: lighting levels/noise and part is because I became the defacto receptionist because my desk was closest to the door.

    Over the last year, my role shifted to a quasi-project management (except I also solely manage the software used for project management), and while I would like people to feel free to drop by for chats about potential future projects, I also need dedicated time to create those projects, preferably in a well-lit space with roomies who chew gum with their mouths closed and don’t say “omg check this out” multiple times per day expecting me to get up in the middle of whatever I’m doing and walk around to stare at their screen as they show off something that I already knew or is absolutely irrelevant to my work but they just want emotional validation because god even being a lesbian doesn’t let me fully escape from the emotional labor of supporting and validating men who should really just GO TO THERAPY and LEAVE ME ALONE.

    ……….Maybe I should get back into therapy myself. In short: I am looking forward to returning for very specific things, and dreading it for other very specific things.

  68. ari*

    I’m so excited to go back into the office! Part of the reason I don’t feel much anxiety, though, is that I feel I can trust my employer to be truly safe about it. It sounds like most of my team will want hybrid setups and I’m hoping it’ll come together well once the chaos settles.

    I’m just so much less productive and happy working from home. Working from a couch in a one-bedroom apartment that I share with another person has been a mental health marathon. I also really needed the commute and change of location in order to focus–without that momentum, I just can’t make myself get started in the morning. It’s been stressful to see all of my coworkers’ productivity increase because they’re less distracted at home when mine is lower than ever.

  69. WantonSeedStitch*

    Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that I now have a baby at home, I would be eager to get back into the office at least 3-4 days per week! I love interacting in person with my colleagues. I even enjoy some things about commuting. But with a baby, I’m glad that I don’t have to go back yet, and that when I do, it’ll probably just be one or maybe two days a week to start with.

  70. Jamie Starr*

    I started coming into the office last summer, mostly because I loathe working from home and partially because it’s difficult to do large parts of my job remotely. I started a new job just before Covid lock down, so for most of the past year, I’ve had the entire open plan office to myself. While I’m glad that my co-workers will be returning soon, I’m not excited about having to adjust to being in a room with a bunch of other people — not because of Covid, but because it’s going to be noisy. (I had an office at my previous job so sharing a space again after 10+ years is going to be be an adjustment.)

  71. RabbitRabbit*

    I’d like 2-3 days back in the office for easier collaboration/questions with my colleagues – plus I’d like to get back to our work gym (which was socially distanced enough even before the pandemic).

    Currently we have no projected return date as we were out of desks in my department before the pandemic. I’m also concerned about my commute being even longer due to the changes in mass transit schedules – it was 2.5 hours total before, and it looks like on the current schedule it would be closer to 3.5 hours.

  72. Goats in Trees*

    I can’t wait to go back, either, although count me as one with reservations. Seeing people will be awesome, and not using my dining table turned desk all the time will also be great. However, commuting has always been difficult for me, so not having the commute has helped my mental help so much. On the other hand, I haven’t met anyone on my team yet since I started working with them in the pandemic, and it’s so much easier to integrate into a group when you’ve met face to face. We’ve been told we’ll get plenty of notice before we go back, and I hope they hold to that. I’m also hoping for hybrid. But we’ll see what happens!

  73. Sans Serif*

    I’m happy to be home but I get why some people would want to go back. If I can go back once a week to use the good printer and say hi to people and get a nice lunch at the place in my building, that would be good. And that’s probably what I will end up doing.

  74. Kyrielle*

    I thought I would love working from home. But my commute was super-short, and I miss being completely _at_ work or completely _away_ from work. My home work space includes a coworker (spouse) who spends a lot of the day on conference calls, and who is being as polite as he can but needs to talk a lot on those calls and be heard. And two kids doing distance learning nearby. And a pair of *really rude* furry office mascots who are just thrilled we are home all the time and occasionally become very disruptive also. In my actual office I had (will have again, I hope) a door I can close if a nearby person is on a call, coworkers I can casually discuss current work with and not be typing to do so, and oh yes, no unexpectedly pointy furry seat cushions.

    I adore my cats. My cats, however, appear to adore being sat on. I want to be closer to normal. I want to be able to go to the office.

  75. Somebody*

    As an extrovert – and I can’t believe I am saying this, but – I miss conferences! I miss networking! I think I was always aware of how much of my work was centered around connecting with people organically and spontaneously. I knew it would be difficult to maintain the same level of connection while working remotely. Virtual events don’t allow for the same type of relationship building.

    I run a nonprofit as the sole employee (although I am in an office with another nonprofit, so I do have “coworkers” and I miss connecting with them, too). My job is largely community engaging and connecting with municipal leaders and key stakeholders in communities in my catchment area. I’ve felt so disconnected from my communities and out of the loop on what is going on. I am very happy to return to normal-ish.

    And it’s not like I don’t also enjoy the lack of commute, being able to cook an awesome lunch, and never getting dressed, but I thrive being out and about – not stuck in one place.

    1. Troy*

      My job sounds similar to yours (nonprofit role focused on engagement with residents and elected officials in several cities) and doing that work virtually has been much, much less effective and less fun. The few in-person meetings that are starting back up have been reminders of how much better and more enjoyable my job is when it’s not 100% remote. I took this job because I like being out and about in my community.

      Virtual meetings are boring, people behave worse in many ways, and it’s impossible to build relationships. Although it’s nice to be at home in my pajamas eating dinner while also attending an evening meeting, the meetings themselves don’t accomplish much.

      Overall, I’ve found working from home enjoyable in some ways (which I did not expect at all) but awful in others. Internally with my coworkers, virtual work has been easier but still lacks the connection and the spontaneity of collaborating and solving problems. It seems harder for people to get quick guidance or feedback, and especially harder for newer employees (those hired during covid) to get everything they need.

      Everyone in my office has said that they prefer a hybrid model when we reopen so that’s what we’re going to do. I’m happy with that. I think my job will be more energizing and enjoyable again.

    2. UKDancer*

      I definitely miss conferences and travel and actually talking to people. Not all the time but it’s nice to meet and network with other people.

  76. it's me*

    I’m fine with it, because I think I was starting to kinda lose it being at home all the time. But a lot of coworkers, particularly developers, are very much against coming in. The CEO has always been clear that he wants people to get vaccinated and get back in the office (we’re also in the commercial real estate field). There are rumors that if more people don’t start coming in, they’re going to make it so no one can work from home, but that may not materialize. If it does, many people may leave. I suspect we’re heading toward a hybrid model, but it may take time to get there.

  77. Not under my roof!*

    I am extremely grateful that I could work from home when doing so made things safer for me and others. But public health notwithstanding, I prefer to keep my living quarters separate from work. I want others to have all the flexibility they want, too, but having an external structure and associated routine help me concentrate on what I need to do instead of how to get going.

    My ideal setup would allow occasional work-from-home days to accommodate snowstorms or sniffles, and perhaps some flexibility on start time so I could avoid the worst of rush hour, but that’s about it. I have a much easier time concentrating in places where the expectation is that I and others will be working, and I enjoy my non-work hours more when I get to physically leave that space at the end of the day. I hope that workplaces trust their employees to do what is best and most sustainable for them, rather than being prescriptive just for the sake of it.

  78. DrSalty*

    I’m looking forward to it! Before the pandemic, I was WFH 1-2 days a week. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, I’m looking forward to WFH 2-3 days a week. I just have to wait until the office renovations are complete …

  79. Ray Gillette*

    I wish I could go back. My company is one of the ones that realized how much money they could save by eliminating the office entirely and switching everyone to 100% remote. So now I need to move into a bigger place to have a proper home office, but we’re in a housing crisis. And even if I could find a bigger place, it’s not like the company’s going to give me a raise to cover the higher rent. They’ve made sympathetic noises and suggested looking into lower-COL areas, but being close to things like my doctor’s office and public transit that’s actually usable are important to me, so I’m stuck.

    I didn’t think I’d miss the commute, but I actually miss the built-in downtime since I rode the train to work. And I definitely miss the ability to compartmentalize and the kind of informal collaboration that happens naturally when people are working on the same stuff in the same space.

  80. Carmen*

    I started a new job on Monday in a completely different state that I will move to in a couple of weeks. Not only do I know nothing about that State, I also know nobody there. I can’t wait to go into the office because that will give me a chance to really meet and connect with my coworkers and build relationships so I won’t hate living there. I’m also one of those odd people who enjoy getting dressed up and working from home ruins that. I also like being able to focus on just my job when I’m in the office- at home I have to stop and take care of the kid or pets. I would like the flexibility of WOH 2 days a week and go into the office 3 days. I was sad when I learned my new job has no plans to return anytime soon.

    1. Distracted Librarian*

      I understand. I started my current job–in a completely different part of my state, where I know almost no one–during the pandemic. I’m ambivalent about returning to full time on-site work, because I enjoy the flexibility of WFH, but I’m really looking forward to meeting my colleagues in person, going to lunch with people, and making friends in my new city.

  81. Oreo*

    I started my job a few weeks before we were sent home and it’s been very difficult to feel like I’m part of the team, even now a year+ since then. I felt very lonely and out of sync with my colleagues and manager. Learning my job was a nightmare of a situation I won’t lie because I was trying to learn something alongside with trying to convert it remote workflow. I am grateful we were able to work from home but I do feel that sense that there is a lot I would know that I don’t. And believe, it was not for lack of trying on my part.

    However despite those daily headaches and breakdowns, I wanted to keep myself and my family safe and I am grateful my husband and I had the space to work at home without too much of an issue. All to say, I can’t wait to go back to the office but with the caveat that I would like to continue some level of flexibility because life happens and I do feel like if I knew my job well, I’d really benefit from some uninterrupted time at home. But I have felt very lonely the last year+ and didn’t realize just how much that I do use work as part of my social life. I’m very introverted but I have found having that routine of getting up and physically going somewhere does help get me going rather than stewing in my ongoing depression and anxiety.

    I think my workplace is looking to adopt a more hybrid model moving forward and allowing people more flexibility or working remote full time. I love that and fully support a model that helps people achieve a better worklife balance.

  82. Stacey*

    I’m one of the outliers that wanted to go back. Now that myself and hubby are vaccinated I’m not nearly as nervous as I was. My office is still mostly skeleton crew but planning on transitioning back this summer through the end of the year. I’m looking forward to things being back to normal, WFH was nice but more isolating than I expected. It’s nice to get up, put on real clothes (and more makeup once masks are done) get out and be amongst people….plus with my job I have an office door I can close if the noise gets to be too much (I come from cubicle world)

  83. NeutralJanet*

    I would definitely prefer to work in the office at least a few days a week, though I do enjoy some aspects of working from home, but my company thinks that around 85% of us want to work remotely full-time…based on a poll they did last August about who would be willing to come in at that time. Which is to say that I think a lot of people would like to work in the office rather than work from home, but that a lot of people aren’t yet comfortable with the safety aspect of it, so may currently be saying that they want to continue working from home indefinitely meaning “until an as-of-yet unspecified date when I will feel safe doing so”, not meaning “permanently”.

  84. Expelliarmus*

    OP, you are not alone. I started my first post-college job in June 2020, so with the exception of one small in-person gathering back in August, I haven’t seen most of my colleagues in person or been in the office since getting my equipment. I haven’t even gotten my employee badge!

    All that to say; while WFH has its pros, so does being in the office, and I’m excited to actually work in my workplace for once! It helps that my company is being very cautious, letting people opt-in starting in June until August, where they will bring back around 50% of employees.

  85. Linda*

    I’ve been back in the office since June 2020. Overall I prefer the office but the good thing about Covid is that I have more job flexibility. It is annoying to listen to the throngs of people complaining about going back – you can’t have it both ways. For me, the in-office working visibility is great for my career because I’m not out of sight, out of mind. I think my colleagues who work from aren’t being considered for promotions/new projects because the managers just kind of forget about them….I’m a 20something in finance so I’m new enough in my career that I want to be noticed for new projects.

  86. alh*

    I’m a special collections librarian, work I got into because I love and value the books and the collection. When you can’t bring the books home, there is still work to be done, but it just isn’t the magical part. I attended a virtual conference recently where one of the panelists talked about how we always talk about work-life balance, but we don’t talk about balance in work, and that was a lightbulb moment for me … my work right now is unbalanced. Usually the busy work and the bureaucratic nonsense and the boring days are balanced by the joy and fulfillment I get from my main task. Right now all I have is the busy work. I am quite anxious to get back to the office and my beloved books, plus I work with treasured colleagues and friends who I miss. Ideally in future I would like a hybrid, where I can be some days in the office and some days at home. I was going into the office one day a week after Christmas, but I’m in Ontario where they closed the in person schools again in April, so I have my 7 year old home with me, so I am WFH full time again. I’m partially vaccinated, and have no trouble maintaining social distancing at work (I can go the whole day without seeing a single person, if I want to, even when the office is full) so as soon as my home situation allows it, I am looking forward to going back.

  87. Macaroni Penguin*

    I’m looking forward to having the choice to work in office. My job is very independent, and can be done quite well at home. Though its nice to work in a different space on occasion. I also miss talking with other adults who I don’t live with. It’s also going to be nice to live in a normal (?) world again. Lately I’ve been watching sports in Australia and the States with resigned wistfulness. Unfortunately I live in Alberta, and the plague is still a very present fact of life. It will probably be a long while yet before society normalizes.

  88. Keyboard Cowboy*

    I’d really like to work in the office full time, but the “hybrid schedule” approach of a few days at work and a few days at home sounds terrible to me. And somehow that’s REALLY difficult to express to management. My direct manager totally gets it (and as I mentioned the hybrid schedule would wreak havoc on my ADHD, he offered to help me set up a formal accommodation to say “Keyboard Cowboy doesn’t need to come back in at all until they can come back in 100% of the time”) but surveys etc from up high all seem to say “what do you want? all remote or hybrid schedule?” with no option whatsoever to just say “let me go back to normal PLEASE”.

    So I’m excited to see other folks here saying they just want to be back in the office all the time. I agree that that’s not a point of view we’ve been hearing much about.

    1. JSPA*

      If they are doing it to micromanage contact cohorts within the business (in effect creating different shifts), it may not be open for discussion. If they want you there as part of team A, they will not want you sharing air (or donuts) with team B.

      If that’s not the rationale,

      1. any chance you could come to an agreement with your boss that you do an unoffical 4 x 10 hour day, with your one remote day taken as a day off? That’s “hybrid on paper.”

      2. any chance you can, with your boss’s documented approval, trade “shifts” with someone who’s also hybrid, but mostly wants to WFH? You’d have an occasional WFH morning or afternoon if they need to be in, but presumably you could separate out a subset of non-pressing tasks and mentally assign those to any WFH hours.

      Again, these options only pertain if they don’t mess up the company’s contact management model.

  89. Rock Prof*

    During pre-covid time, I loved the days I could work from home and enjoyed teaching online, when I wasn’t teaching in a classroom. But I was so excited to get back to teaching in the classroom this semester, even if for only 2 tiny classes out of my teaching load of 4. It was so great to see colleagues in person and interact with students outside of their blank zoom screens. I’m happy to go back to a nice mix of on campus and at home (and happy to have the flexibility for that), but I also have colleagues who love being completely remote (which is really impossible for me given that I have a physical lab) and others who want to be on campus 100%.

  90. Volunteer Enforcer*

    I started my job during the November UK lock down. I found working from home middle of the road, could cope but wouldn’t do it every day again. I’m overall happy to be back at the office to get to know colleagues properly, but it takes time to get used to the increased interruptions.

  91. Liz*

    I’m on the fence about it. Pre-pandemic I hated working from home, and was the only one in my group who didn’t do it regularly. If the weather was bad, or i only worked half a day to go somewhere close to home, i’d do it, but I really preferred being IN the office.
    Of course I had to adjust, and now after 14 months of WFH, I’ve kind of settled into a routine. I also have a better setup; laptop stand, large monitor, etc. than I did when I just did it casually once in a while. So that helps.

    But right before the shutdown, we moved. to a smaller building, and are more condensed. And while I miss being around people, etc., I also don’t trust that everyone is following the guidelines etc.
    Ideally, I’d like to WFH 2-3 days a week, and home the rest of the time. My boss is pretty good about things and has said he doens’t have any problem with me working from home regularly, but hasn’t specified how much etc.

    So if I could split WFH with office, i think that would make me happy

  92. jael*

    Count me among the employees that want to return to the office, for many reasons already outlined here: I don’t prefer to have my workspace at home–like to leave it behind at the end of the day. I live alone and need the “getting out” that the commute and day at the office provides. I also am not happy about using my personal wifi, home space, furniture and cell phone for work purposes without remuneration. Seems I get calls and emails at all hours of the day and night and in before times, I just didn’t see them. I started this job during the pandemic and it was extremely difficult to train, keep everything straight, learn new systems, etc. while knowing literally no one. This wasn’t anyone’s fault but I feel I am still behind the curve. I also realized during this time at home how much the camaraderie of co-workers means to me. Sure there are exceptions, but I like the routine of an office, having desk and file space, eating lunch with others, etc. I’ll be happy to go back.

  93. middle name danger*

    I spent the last year unable to turn in a circle without running into an article about the challenges and stress of working from home. It’s bizarre to me that it sounds like more people are reluctant to return than excited, given that general feeling this whole time.

  94. Back to the Office!*

    I just returned to the office today! Everyone had the option to stay home, return to the office in a hybrid model (work from home some days and in the office others), or full time in the office. I chose the hybrid and I’m SO happy I did. I’m already more productive, and with 90% of the office choosing to stay remote, it’s still super quiet to get things done.

    Part of the reason I wanted to come back was personal. I love my husband dearly, but I am not made to be with him 24/7. After a year of that, I could feel like our relationship was straining and I knew the way to solve that was space. I’m totally thrilled with being able to come into the office, but also stay home a couple of days per week. It really is the best of both worlds!

  95. Roja*

    You’re not alone! I’ve been in person this school year, but from March through May last year I was online, and I couldn’t wait to return, to the point where I had decided (once I got laid off because where I worked closed down entirely) that I would rather change fields temporarily than teach online for another year. I wasn’t thrilled about the risk, but I counted it as worth it, from my perspective–that’s how much I want(ed) to be in person.

    You’re really not alone!

  96. RB*

    I feel like there are so many more reasons why being in the office is helpful and a good thing, and that Alison’s paragraph on this was just the tip of the iceberg, although it summed it up nicely. I mean, just the social stuff alone, let alone the work reasons.

  97. Nora*

    I hated working from home before the pandemic, and I hate it even more now. I would love to go back to the office permanently when there’s not a pandemic, but there still is.

  98. JSPA*

    It’s not an office, but I was excited to go back, shortly, to a specialized co-working space. And now that’s all up in the air.

    The carefully-hammered-out safety measures (designed to accommodate the many higher-risk people there) is effectively being tossed out the window (or at least, ignored) on the basis of (what I’d argue) is misinterpretation of the recently-changed CDC guidance.

    Some of us are still at risk even from “mild” covid, or have reason to believe that we’re in the percentage of people who are not excellently protected, even post-vaccination.

    Being put on the “forever” list for WFH, when there are benefits to going in, is not the kindest fix, unless it’s what someone actively wants. Especially in workplaces where it would be relatively simple to say, “nobody comes in on Sunday after 8 pm, then all day Monday plus Tuesday morning are masked and distanced with full ventilation, even if people are vaccinated.”

    Vac + mask + distance + airflow are overkill for most people’s needs. But is it such a crazy ask, to allow more people safe on-site access?

    That isn’t a rhetorical question, BTW–I am eager to hear what workplaces are doing in the face of the loosened guidance, given the specific needs or presumed likely needs of their employees. And also, whether people who are excited to come in feel like the excitement is creating the upbeat sort of peer pressure to do so (which is a very different phenomenon than pressure from the boss).

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      My employer is still requiring masks in common areas (non single person offices) and requesting people keep 3 feet social distancing. Also, people who were sharing an office have been located to other offices so that no one is sharing an office.

  99. Amber Rose*

    I’m mixed? I like the time I get to be in office handling things and chatting with my coworkers because I feel like I’d be crawling the walls if I was home full time. But the couple days I do get to work from home are a bit of a relief since it’s quiet and I can focus on side projects and play videos in the background.

    I see both sides! I can understand why people would wanna go back and why they wouldn’t because I’m both. I’m actually really loving the hybrid thing for that reason.

  100. Rocket Woman*

    I was completely work from home for a few months at the start of this all, but had to start coming back in part time in Summer of 2020. I hated it then, because NO ONE else was here. Now, I’m back in the office 4 days a week and ~1/2 of our staff is back too, so it feels more like the office. I would like to WFH on Fridays as long as they let me (I can wrap so much up without distractions) but otherwise I find the separate home vs work environments really benefit my mental health.

    My company was originally saying they’d look into a hybrid setup, but are now pushing people to come back since many in our state are vaccinated. So I will be curious to see what the official stance is on hybrid and when they draw the line.

  101. Mr. Cajun2core*

    Yesterday was the first day that everyone was required to come back to the office. So far it has been so much easier to just pop into someone’s office as opposed to waiting for them to respond via email or waiting for them to come back into the office as they are the only person who has the keys to a room I need to get into.

    The only negatives are parking and traffic.

  102. Office Newbie*

    Forget going back I’m looking forward to going in the first place! I chose the worst possible time to start a new job (March 2020 in the UK), so I’ve been in the office less than 2 weeks in over a year. I’m just excited to actually start the job I joined, because learning a new job at home without helpful colleagues around is categorically not what I expected when I decided to make the change.

    I do feel incredibly fortunate to be in a not negatively impacted industry though, and to have a job where I have been able to learn and work from home even if it has taken longer to pick things up.

  103. RB*

    The sad thing for me is that I was VERY MUCH looking forward to going back, but they did an entire office remodel while people were out and now it’s a completely different setup with “hoteling” and hot desking and other things that no one will like. This has really dampened my enthusiasm for going back — it will never be the same as it was before.
    And then there’s all the people who changed companies or retired during the pandemic, so pretty much all the teams have changed.

    1. JMR*

      Same! My workplace is still trying to decide how they are going to bring people back, and they sent out an employee survey asking about these different kind of work set-ups. The opinion was overwhelmingly that you will pry our individually assigned offices and cubes out of our cold, dead hands.

  104. Bored new hire*

    I love the flexibility of working from home, but I have to say that I started a new job six months ago and it has been kind of a nightmare. There was no meaningful onboarding process and I feel totally disconnected from everyone, adrift on a little island in my living room, sending emails into the abyss.

  105. Amethystmoon*

    I am looking forward to going back. I live alone and it’s really kind of lonely. Yeah, there are chat & email, but they are not the same. That being said, I do think companies should take it a bit slowly if they can, and have a hybrid approach at first. Maybe a few days at the office and a couple at home?

  106. crookedfinger*

    I’m looking forward to it. I thought I’d be excellent at WFH as an introvert and that all the time saved from not commuting would give me ample opportunity to work out, clean house, and work on hobbies… turns out I just don’t wanna do that stuff after 8 hours of work, even with a couple extra hours in my day. And I need the balance of people and alone time to be at my best mentally.
    I still might like to work from home 1-2 days per week, but no more than that.

  107. Opposites Attract*

    I love working from home, but my husband hates it. He was glad to go back to the office and even got permission to go in before it opened back up since he has an office he can seclude himself in. He feels more productive and I think it’s a mindset for him of this is my work space vs this is my relax and unwind space. He likes the differentiation, but he also prefers routine, where as I like to change things up now and then.

  108. RB*

    I heard someone in an interview recently who referred to “third space” as that place we’re in when we’re commuting. Third Space is valuable in that it allows us to decompress after leaving the office and to mentally put work behind us. In the morning, it allows us to organize our thoughts on what we need to accomplish that day. As much as I hate commuting, I think I’ve been missing “third space.”

    1. UKDancer*

      That’s interesting. I always used to read books on the train into work and I’ve found that without a commute I’m reading a lot less than I used to. I don’t particularly miss commuting but I do miss the break between home and work. I miss actually being in central London and doing things like dance classes and going to the theatre or just doing things as much as anything.

      My ballet teacher is reopening the studio on Thursday and I’m so excited to be doing class in person again after a year of using the back of a chair and making the neighbours laugh.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        I have finally been able to go back to social dance events since being vaccinated, and it feels like being let out of prison.

    2. goducks*

      Yes. I listen to podcasts during my commute. I found that I had no time to listen at home, my downtime was taken up by other things. Now that I’m back, I’ve been slowing catching up on a year’s worth. As much as I hate the act of commuting I do miss that mental place.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      I very much need “third space”. So much so that I recreated for the past year and a half. I leave the house every morning, get coffee and the paper and then return home. That is the start of my work day. At the end of the day, weather permitting, I take a walk around the neighborhood and then return home. That is the beginning of my “evening at home”. I know some people think that is crazy, but frankly it has helped me maintain a certain sense of separation.

    4. allathian*

      The only time I’ve actually enjoyed commuting was when I returned to work after maternity leave, because it was pretty much the only time I had to myself, and I’m an introvert and need lots of me-time to maintain my mental equilibrium. Now that my son’s older, I’ve been able to organize more time for me as he doesn’t need constant attention anymore even when he’s at home.

  109. MechE*

    The number one thing I am looking forward to with going back to the office (and traveling for work) is time away from my wife. Not in a bad way or a trope-ish way. I enjoy the time we spend together, but time away gives me time to miss her. It was nice to look forward to getting to go home and see her at the end of the day. I can’t wait to get that part of my life back.

  110. JMR*

    I am very much looking forward to being able to get back on-site. It’s interesting, because if someone had asked me before the pandemic how I would feel about working from home, I would have said to sign me the hell up. In practice, it turns out I’m a little more extroverted than I’d thought. I am not a super-social person, but I do need to socialize a little bit, and the small amount of social interaction I got having lunch with co-workers or discussing a problem over coffee scratched that itch for me. I can do my work as well from home as I can on-site, but I really miss the social interaction that I got at work. Honestly, I especially miss being able to vent with work friends about some annoyance or other. I once literally put a Zoom meeting on a co-worker’s calendar called “Let’s Bitch About X,” because I was super frustrated and needed to let off some steam. In pre-pandemic life I would have grabbed her and we would have bitched over coffee or taken a short walk around the neighborhood, but I can’t do that now. And I definitely have Zoom fatigue from being in 3+ online meetings a day. I realize that people with kids, family commitments, and/or horrendous commutes may feel differently, but I personally can’t wait to get back.

  111. Hotdog not dog*

    So far during the pandemic I’ve done just about everything…I became unemployed early in the pandemic, then got a part time job (retail grocery), then an office job which was in person for the first week, went virtual for several months, then back in person.

    Monday I start a new job which will be hybrid. I’m really looking forward to wearing my work clothes, talking with colleagues, having a work space that isn’t also the kitchen table, and taking the stairs (it’s how I get my exercise). I’m also glad I don’t have to completely give up wearing pajama pants all day, leaving the car in the driveway, being able to focus on a project without a colleague interrupting, or taking the dog out at lunch.

    There isn’t a single thing I will miss from the grocery store, except my co workers. Those people are overworked, underpaid, and every one of them deserves a year long paid vacation for the risks they took and the nonsense they tolerated from the public. The risks of being in person at the office don’t even come close! (Side note: people stopped publicly appreciating “essential workers” several months ago, please be kind to any service providers you encounter. They have more than earned my respect!)

  112. Friendly Neighborhood Office Manager*

    I have noticed that when I talk to people about WHY they are excited about returning, a common issue is that they want to return to how things were BEFORE, not how they are NOW. When I explain all the ways things that will not be as they used to be (i.e. no visitors or meetings, common spaces and meeting rooms closed, plenty of people having gone permanently remote), they are significantly less enthused. A lot of the push to return is based on dreams of grandeur about how the office will look and feel to them – it will not be as it was!

    1. Amethystmoon*

      A lot of this may depend on the company and the state. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some companies, in some states, things looked very similar to how they were before. But it all also depends on TPTB in the companies as well.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      This will vary by location and company. I do believe generally more people will continue to work remotely than did before. However once the pandemic has passed, there will be visitors, common spaces and meeting rooms again.

  113. Lance*

    I’m, admittedly, in the crowd of not wanting to go back into the office (I love my silence, I have some minor-mild health issues that make staying at home vastly more comfortable for me)… but on the other end, I do know some coworkers are looking forward to going back in, when able. At least one has stated directly that they like the office space better, that it was the main place they socialized. Others just like getting out of the house.

    All told, I’m just hoping we can get into a good place before long that people who want to return, can return safely… and I and others who want to stay home, can stay home. At least most of the time.

  114. BethRA*

    As much as I will miss eavesdropping on my partner’s many Zoom meetings (both because she’s amazing, and because it’s WAY more fun to listen to another company’s drama than have to deal with your own), I am very much looking forward to being in the office with my coworkers on a more regular basis. For me, WFH is a nice option to have, but I personally am better able to focus in the office and I really like having that physical separation between “work” and “home.” And as much as I’m not the most social/chatty person, I just miss being around my colleagues. The energy is just different for me.

    I certainly hope my organization opts to let people pick the set-up that works best for them going forward – I know not everyone wants to come back full- or even part-time – but I’ll be a lot happier when there’s more of us in the office.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My partner has been on severance this whole time after his plant closed, so I haven’t got to hear any work drama, but I’ve heard some club meetings that have been pretty funny. I didn’t realize until this shut-down that one of his friends from the canoe club sounds just like Dale Gribble on Zoom.

  115. Mynona*

    I am back in the office FT and it’s great. Our office had an arbitrary “one workday on-site” rule that forced me to split my time between my office and home, meaning I had to carry stuff back and forth, and often either do without important resources I had overlooked, or constantly drop by the office to collect them. As soon as I was vaccinated, I electively came back FT. Now that my coworkers are increasingly back on site, I’m glad I came back when the office was more empty. It made the adjustment easier.

  116. Over It*

    I’m new at WFH having started a new job two months ago, and my office is set to return part-time starting in about six weeks. I’m very excited about the *IDEA* of going back to the office, but our vaccination rates are only at about 40% with demand significantly slowing down. That combined with the fact that a few thousand people work in my building and our area is lifting indoor mask restrictions soon, I think we’re priming ourselves for a major COVID outbreak by returning to in-person work. The lack of structure of WFH has been a challenge for me and I miss organic in person interactions, so I really want to go back as soon as the risk is lower. I just don’t think we’re ready yet. On the other hand, most of my team has been grumbling about going back to the office because of long commutes, needing to wear real clothes and saying they’re more productive from home, and it can be easier to meet with external partners remotely (which we do a lot of). Since we are government, which has a very butts-in-seats culture, so unfortunately for the complainers on the team there is no chance of us going permanently remote.

  117. the cat*

    i do not want the laps to go into the office! it will be cold when i nap! no one will pet me!

    1. Ali G*

      Yeah the dog is not going to be happy. He LOVES WFH! I’ll still be home 2-3 days/week, but my husband will be in almost 100%, so that means a few days of him being alone except for the dog walker visit.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Haha! Seriously, my cat has become 10 times needier since I’ve had work from home days. He loves stealing my left arm while I work.

  118. Dwight*

    Wow, I am NOT productive at home. When the pandemic started, I was excited like hell to work from home. It was a dream. But I guess I lack discipline, and get distracted easily. I’m not excited to go back to the office, but I know I kind of need it. Maybe as people are saying… a few days a week, like a hybrid model. Before the pandemic, the company was very butt-in-seat kind of people (we have actual desktop computers instead of laptops). But the CEO came out and said that we’ve earned the right to have more flexibility from here on out.

  119. brighidg*

    Absolutely not. I never realized how much of my hatred of my job was hatred of having to go into the office every day. Frankly if they make me go back, I will look for another job.

    1. Jesse*

      Same. I wish that some of the people in the various threads could just get together and swap jobs – I want about 95% WFH and occasional on-site meetings/office visits when necessary.

  120. The Crowening*

    During the pandemic, while I was working from home due to COVID, I actually took a new job that is permanent remote. So even when everyone else goes back… I won’t. These days I have my e-learning kids here with me, but eventually they’ll be back in a classroom and then it will just be me and a bunch of cats here all day. On the one hand, I can wear sweatpants. On the other hand, I go hours with no one to talk to. This job was a good move for other reasons, but I’m hoping I’ll be OK to work from home for the long term.

  121. Raven*

    I started my internship (local journalism) remotely, and I was told we’d likely go back to the newsroom once everyone was vaxxed. Now, though, it’s not looking likely for various reasons. I’m bummed – I wish I could go back to the office!

  122. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

    I’m looking forward to people being able to work where ever suits them and the job they do best. For me, that will be four days a week at home and one in the office. I think both my employer and myself will gain the most from that arrangement. I will be relieved of the 3.5-4 hour daily commute from hell most days (totally enjoying not having to do THAT this last 15+ months!) and still get to maintain personal connections with team members. They will get increased productivity and some longer days from me in exchange. What works for me won’t necessarily work for my team mates. Some will work 100% remote, some will work 100% in the office, some will split at varying degrees like I am going to. That’s fantastic. I think we will overall come out in a better place for this. For all those who are anxious to get back in the office, I support you! I gift to you me not being on the road making your commute to your happy place a burden.

  123. BlackLodge*

    I CANNOT WAIT TO GO BACK TO THE OFFICE FULL TIME. I told my boss once school is back to normal he won’t be able to kick me out of the office. There are definitely pros to WFH (I can stay in my PJs and don’t have to drive anywhere!) but I feel so much more engaged and productive in the office which I really miss. I appreciate having WFH as an option in cases of extreme weather, or my child is sick, etc, I just loathe it long term.

  124. Lori Jackson*

    The company I am a contractor for has us WFH until January 2022 and a modified schedule after that. It will be interesting to see how people adapt after almost 2 years at home. I’m not that interested to go back because I don’tsee the people I work on projects with because we are scattered throughout Northern California.

  125. OrigCassandra*

    I’m the advisor for a student group that distributes books to people in local jails. Only today have I managed to unearth most of my living room from a year’s worth of donated books, most of which the group can’t even use — hardbacks can’t go into the jails. The rest of my living room should be unearthed next week, and from now on donations can go straight to work for processing.

    I also have an equipment-heavy work hobby of sorts, and I can’t wait to get that out of my house too. I really prefer keeping work and home more separate! Plus I will get my guest room back.

    That said, I completely understand and support colleagues who want to continue working from home for any reason — or no reason other than they just like it better.

  126. llamaswithouthats*

    Wasn’t there an open thread earlier in the pandemic about people who weren’t so crazy about remote work? It seems compatible with this post.

    Personally, I would like a hybrid setup. Basically, meetings and gatherings in-person, but if I’m having a writing intensive day it would be easier to do from home.

  127. basically gods*

    I have ADHD, and I didn’t realize until lockdown just how much I rely on being in the office to force me not only to be productive, but also to just like….get dressed and eat meals at reasonable times and generally just Be A Person. I also live alone (with a cat), and the isolation was really getting to me. I started a new job yesterday that’s splitting up the days, to allow for more social distancing, and it’s such a relief to be around people and have an enforced schedule again!

  128. Anon4This*

    My state is opening back up offices next week. I am not completely opposed to the idea of being back in the office, there have definitely been drawbacks for me to working from home, mainly an increase in physical pain from moving less and a corresponding great increase in weight that is negatively impacting my mental health. However, as a single parent to teenagers with complicated medical needs, the ability for them to do school from home, and for me to take them to appointments, therapies, etc in the middle of the day has been really great. It’s also allowed one of my kids who doesn’t drive to get a part-time job, which wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t around to drive them to/from work. If I have to be back in the office full time it will definitely have a negative impact on my kids, and me too as I’ll be so much more stressed by our schedule. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do something hybrid- only 1 or 2 days in the office per week would be ideal, but we’ll see.

  129. Fomer Teacher*

    I worked from my office almost the entire pandemic. I stayed home during the initial 2 week stay at home orders but quickly made the decision to go back to the office. I am in technology, so we were essential. I just work better from the office as well. I need a clear line between work & home, or I never really disconnect. Those 2 weeks were nice – I slept till 1/2 hour before I needed to log in, worked in leggings the entire time, and enjoyed the slower pace. But I was really glad to go back. I am very lucky that everyone here has a private office, so we did not have to worry about close contact. We all agreed to pack lunches so we did not have to worry about sharing a kitchen and were careful to keep the bathrooms ultra clean. I really think that staying on my normal routine was critical to my mental health not taking a severe hit. We were given the choice, and some people stayed home due to child care issues, but almost everyone came back as soon as they could. Now that I am vaccinated it does not worry me at all.

  130. ThinMint*

    I am excited to go back. My work can be done well enough from home. But leading a team, training them on new development, and spontaneous conversations that build rapport are all easier for me in person.

  131. Inksmith*

    I’m really looking forward to going back – I live by myself, so I miss being around people, I hate managing a team remotely, my spare room isn’t big enough for a screen so I’ve been doing data analysis on a laptop for a year and a half, and I just don’t want to have my office in my house any more.

    Also, if we go back to offices, people will stop going on about how work from home is wonderful for everyone and offices are of the devil!

  132. Inot*

    I’m ready to return to a hybrid schedule – half remote half in person. I miss seeing coworkers, having two monitors, and not being in my house all day. However I also enjoy not having a commute, not dressing up beyond the top half, and lunchtime naps in my bed.

  133. D3*

    I’m happy for people who are happy to be going back.
    I’m happy for people who are happy to be able to permanently WFH.
    I just wish those who are happy to be able to go back to the office weren’t saying that EVERYONE should be happy and excited about going back.
    So thank you, OP, for recognizing and understanding that others who feel differently are also valid. The world needs more people like that. I hope your transition to the office again goes smoothly and makes you as happy as the anticipation seems to be making you!

    1. Inksmith*

      I wished for a year and a half that all the people who are happy to be working from lhome would stop trying to convince the rest of us that we should be happy about it too – I guess it’s just human nature to do that.

  134. AuntAmy*

    I am looking forward to going back! We’ll be doing a hybrid and my office is still organizing how that will look. Even one day in the office will probably be just right for me. I realize I am lucky that I actually miss my coworkers’ faces. I live alone (with pets) and I typically have very firm work/home boundaries. Obviously they’ve become blurred over the past year, and I’d love to get back to where they were.

  135. LaFramboise (in academia)*

    Yes, can’t wait. I am starting to dread my home office. I’m higher ed (Community college) and we’re not open to students and it’s becoming hard to teach via zoom, since most everyone is exhausted by it. Fingers crossed that fall term is back in person!

  136. Jean Valjean*

    I have been working at my office a couple days a week since last summer/fall, with a long break over the winter holidays when the pandemic was really bad. Not only am I looking forward to seeing more people (several of us have started to trickle back to the building), but my office is in a really great, walkable, fun part of Medium-Large Sized American City. I get to go to stores, lunch places, and for walks in the park on my breaks, which is a nice change of pace from the residential neighborhood I live in. It has reminded me that there is a world outside of my tiny home office that is filled with all kinds of people, who are all back on the street again. I missed it!

    1. OyHiOh*

      Starting early last fall, my partner and I started making a point of frequenting restaurants with outdoor seating. In our part of the world, the weather stays nice enough for such activity until deep into fall, and sometimes even over winter, especially on sunny days. Anyway, that was nice but sidewalk dinning has gotten infinitely more interesting recently. More people out, being People in all their varying shades and stripes. It’s good to see people again, and better seeing people know they don’t generally need masks outside

  137. Squirrel*

    I have mixed feelings, personally. (Bear with me–I see where you’re coming from, LW, I promise!) I don’t experience some of the benefits people describe when they talk about working at the office–I strongly prefer communicating through writing much of the time; I don’t spontaneously socialize with co-workers much or listen in on conversations, nor do I buy that doing so would make me more productive; and scheduled calls did more to help me get to know my teammates than working in the office had. I’d rather keep WFH, at least as an option. It gives people more flexibility and eliminates the time sink (and, depending on mode of transport, the pollution) that a commute entails.

    However, I understand why so many people are eager to get back! If I hadn’t been able to go weather the pandemic with family instead of staying in my city-noise-afflicted apartment, home would’ve been less comfortable to work from. The offices are (for me) a nice place to focus, and the routine and physical separation make it easier to mentally divide work time and not-work time. And I will admit there are a few friendly faces I haven’t seen in ages, and I’ll be glad to see them again. If more of my friendships were forged through work, or if my work were more socially oriented, I would have missed the office more.

  138. Jackalope*

    My feelings are…mixed. On the one hand, I miss being in person. I miss having chats with my co-workers, miss seeing people who are not in my pod, and miss the tactile experiences of being in the office (different paint, different carpet, different chair, different walk to the bathroom….). I also know that some of our work is not able to be done remotely; we’ve had some volunteers taking care of part of it (who were actually happy to volunteer, and the rest of us took some of their other stuff on the days they were in the office, so I felt okay about that), but some of it just can’t be done the way things are now. And did I mention my co-workers? My job involves everyone getting assigned specific workloads and finishing them almost 100% independently of everyone else; I had a co-worker once who compared it to being self-employed, and while that’s not 100% true (we have a set schedule, for example, and don’t get to choose the work), there are ways in which it feels that way. I missed one of our only meetings at the beginning of the WFH period and so basically didn’t talk to any of my co-workers from mid-March through… July? I mean, I’m glad I’m good at my job and could keep getting stuff done, but that was a LONG time. And I sort of miss getting out the door on my bike every day to get to work; I still ride multiple times a week, but it’s less pressing and easier to skip when it’s just for fun rather than for commuting.

    On the other hand…. It’s so convenient to eat lunch at home, to be able to answer the door for repair people and house inspectors and the like and have it take 5-10 min of your day instead of taking the whole day off to sit and wait. And I know in my head that as a vaccinated person, I’m really safe, but I’ve spent enough time under the shadow of COVID that I still FEEL a lot of fear around non-pod people. Since I became fully vaccinated 2 weeks ago I’ve been trying to push my boundaries a bit – see a few more people here and there, go out a bit more, and talk myself down. I think it’s good, and I’m looking forward to getting used to being in a “normal” life again. But it’s going to be a ROUGH transition, and probably involve some panic attacks before I can stop the mental connection that non-pod people = danger. And my bike ride for work is a lot more dangerous than my bike ride for fun, since I have to go through a lousy downtown area that is NOT set up for bikes. So that makes me a bit nervous. I wish we could have a hybrid schedule; because of the division of labor we have, we don’t have to have everyone in the office together, and could have people coming in a few days a week and still overlap with each other. I don’t know if that will happen or not, however; we will see.

    1. Jackalope*

      I will add upon further reflection that what I’m looking forward to is not going back into the office, but rather the point in time when I will have been back for about a month or so and will be used to it and back in a routine. I know it will be different than it was before and I’m steeling myself for that, but not looking forward to having to figure out work clothes and bringing in lunch and so on. I want to have it figured out already!

  139. Daisy-dog*

    We took a survey of our employees. 5% want to be in the office fulltime. 25% want to be at home fulltime. The rest want a mix. So OP (& others) are certainly not alone in wanting to be in the office. They just do not want a return to the before times. Fewer days commuting in traffic. More quiet time for the projects that require focus. Still the opportunity to have collaboration time!

  140. JustaClarifier*

    What I find interesting (and good) is that LW’s company is making it voluntary. So many companies and organizations seem to have this all one way or all the other way mindset that is frustrating. It reminds me when I was younger and people would separate into XBox vs Playstation camps. You shouldn’t have to choose just one! Managers and their employees should have the freedom to choose what works best for them and their roles.

  141. Snazzy*

    I’ve been Working from home for going on 6 years now, so I will not be going back. That said I am so excited that people are going back to the office and that my friends can start going to lunch and drinks after work again. With everyone working from home and kids at home going to lunch was not really an option, not only was no where open but dragging your kids and husband turned lunch into work.

    1. Snazzy*

      Also I am excited to buy makeup and wear real shoes again, and to out of the house enough to support buying a new outfit or a bag.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I’ve convinced myself that my Skechers sandals look perfectly fine with my dresses Lol

        2. HR Exec Popping In*

          I haven’t worn real work shoes in soooo long. I actually put a pair on the other day to run to the store and didn’t make it out of the house before kicking them off and putting my slip on sneakers on. :(

        3. Sweet Christmas*

          During the pandemic I actually had a mini-mission to acquire more shoes I could wear without socks. I hate wearing shoes, and I especially hate wearing socks.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I’ve convinced myself that I need to update my foundation/powder game! I didn’t wear much makeup for about a year here and my old stuff – which is old enough it needs to go in the trash anyway – also now looks completely wrong for my skin. Excuse to buy new!

        1. Amethystmoon*

          I’ve been wearing makeup on Zoom only. It’s weird. The colors I normally like, which are more neutral, don’t show up on camera. So then I have to get much brighter colors than I am used to wearing.

  142. DCompliance*

    I am excited to see how this pandemic has impacted the next decade of office environments!
    Our CEO wants everyone back, but HR has been very pro telework. They feel like a lot of problems have improved.
    I am for a hybrid model- I think flexibility is key.

  143. Justme, The OG*

    I am somewhat excited to go back to the office. I will be excited to see people again but then not excited to share space with people. It will be nice to have a routine and some alone time.

  144. Michelle Smith*

    I am eternally grateful for those who are excited to return. We have a couple of those people on my team. They are going into the office occasionally and handling matters that can’t be done virtually. As someone who is high risk and extremely apprehensive, their initiative is allowing me to being reintegrating at a slower pace that is more comfortable for me. So cheers to all of you who are in the first wave of reopening!

  145. goducks*

    I’ve been back 4 days a week for a couple of months now, and the difference in my productivity level and my energy has been quite staggering. At the office I have all the tools I need to complete my work at my fingertips, and the speed of some of the applications I use are so much faster on the local network vs. over VPN. I get so much more done. And, the collaboration of being able to have a quick conversation on a topic is so helpful. I found that remote means sometimes people just don’t communicate because what might be a 2 minute face to face conversation is so much more cumbersome over email or zoom.
    I had some mixed feelings about going back, and I certainly didn’t miss my commute one iota, but I find myself sort of dreading my WFH day each week. It’s so much harder to feel like I got anything done.

  146. Temperance*

    Not having a dining table just covered in files will be so friggen glorious.

    I don’t miss commuting. I don’t miss not wearing sweatpants. But I would love for my house to just be my house and not overrun by files.

  147. Mujj*

    There’s a lot of things I love about WFH, but the commute my biggest pain point (long commute into a major US city). If work were a 10 minute walk from my house, I would definitely be excited to come back.

  148. Mallory Janis Ian*

    One thing I’ve missed about the office is CATERED meals! There is food in my town that I love, but for whatever reason I only ever get it when we have catered work meetings. Or even just my favorite sub shop that delivers to my work but doesn’t deliver to my home address. I almost cried from happiness when I had my favorite sub combo for the first time in over a year Lol

  149. JillianNicola*

    Definitely not alone. I never had to WFH – I was retail for the first half, and then new office job where they wanted me to come in while I learned the position – but there’s no way I could have done it. I’m in a crowded house with a new puppy, and there is literally nowhere for me to set up.

    One point I can’t believe more people have made in this whole discourse (not just in this thread) is – while I dearly love my stay-at-home partner, I would also murder him in his sleep if I had to see him just all day every day. Like all day? Every day? No break? No chance to be amongst human beings who don’t know your deepest darkest secrets and also exactly which buttons to press to drive you completely insane? Nope don’t like that lol.

  150. BadWolf*

    I was starting to look forward to going back to the office, but they got rid of our VOIP phones so now we have to make all calls through our computer. Okay, sure. But they may have taken them out of a bunch of the conference rooms too…which makes it really hard to have multiple people listen/talk on the call. Rumor is that they will add back some other dongles to replicate a conference room phone speaker…but then you’re tied to one person’s laptop.

    Then they’ve been discussed a hybrid plan with reduced office space. Which seems like can only lead to no personal desks and “hot desking” when we come in. Which means a switch from pre-pandemic where my office had all my nice ergonomics and my home was typing on the couch with a laptop to my home office have all my ergonomics and the office being slouching at a sticky desk. So…I’m really hoping they don’t take away our personal desks if they want use back in more than a day.

    But my waistline could really use a return to work. Both in reduced snacking and better walk breaks as we had room to walk indoors so “bad weather” was never an excuse.

  151. almost fully vax*

    I started a new job last fall, and I’ve never met any of my teammates in person or set foot in our offices. I am really looking forward to having the chance to do that later this year. I believe there is a human connection I am missing.

    Prior to the pandemic, at my old company, I often joined my coworkers for lunch in the break room or a quick beverage at the café next door, and I would really appreciate having that particular kind of social experience again. I have other friends and communities, so I am not relying on work for having a social circle, but I do appreciate the coworker relationship for what it is.

    When it went smoothly, I used to enjoy my commute, and I expect to do that still with my new company. I’m able to take public transit, and I like seeing people, looking out the window at nature and different neighborhoods, and listening to a podcast. It’s nice to get out and see the world a little bit.

    I don’t expect to be in the office five days a week every week, nor does my employer expect that, but I am certainly looking forward to incorporating the office back into my regular routine.

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      Oh, I really miss lunch in the cafeteria! Or coffee in the break room. Or drinks across the street after work….

  152. consultinerd*

    My office has started to transition back to in-person on an as-you-feel-comfortable basis. I’m in the office today with a handful of colleagues and while we’re not requiring anyone to be here consistently in person until fall, it’s refreshing to be getting back to separating home and work time and space from each other and interacting in person with some of my colleagues. While I appreciated the flexibility of WFH I also really benefit from the structure of work happening at work and (mostly) ending when I go home for the day.

    I’m glad my company is taking this return to office process slowly for the benefit of colleagues who are more risk-adverse/at-risk, but at the same time the one difficulty I see on the horizon is maintaining coordination when we have a critical mass of in-person workers but a few at-home holdouts. Over the last 14 months what’s been hardest is not collaborating through WFH itself but managing hybrid situations, e.g. when a client really wanted in-person meetings but also had many stakeholders who would only join virtually.

  153. Mialana*

    I’d love, love, love to get back to the office. I hate working from home! BUT I really don’t want to go back before it is safe to do so. I’m so grateful that my employer takes the pandemic seriously and doesn’t expect us to work from the office right now.

  154. Pickaduck*

    I’ve been doing half home and half office for quite a while now, and I love it. I hope that it can stay this way forever. I truly look forward to the change whether it’s office or home, it makes me much more energized to work.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      Same here. I hated WFH at first, I think I cried every day the first month, but now home is where I get work done, and the office is where I maintain connections and push projects through. I have the flexibility to shift my schedule whenever I need to as well. It’s pretty nice. Both me and my boss are both loving it and plan to keep it this way for our department and reports even after covid is no longer an issue.

  155. raincoaster*

    I don’t work in an office but as a laptop-based writer I used to head to the Seabus station in downtown Vancouver for about 4pm and set up at the Starbucks there. I’d stay through to the end of rush hour(s) around 7pm, just getting a buzz from the commuters all very busily going places, doing things. It’s a sort of energy vampirism that doesn’t diminish those who feed it, and I do miss it quite a lot. Being alone in a crowd is a lovely thing sometimes.

  156. Shan*

    I’m back, and I love it! We were only fully shut down until about June last year (and even before then, we could go in if needed), and then we switched to flexible. I kind of worked my way up from one day a week to 4-5 over the course of the summer and fall. Once the novelty wore off, I absolutely hated WFH. I live alone in a tiny condo, my counter (~2.5 feet) had to serve as my desk, I had to set up and take down my desktop every day, I was down to one monitor, no printer, no access to files, my chair was an IKEA barstool, I don’t have air conditioning, etc. – it sucked! At work, I have a large private office, air, the file room, printers of all sorts, a large desk, an ergonomic chair… it’s so much better. And I have people! The crew on my floor that come in every day are all people I know and trust, and I love being able to swing by their office (masked, of course), and talk through things. We still do meetings over Teams, but even that is nicer in the office. Plus, having that division between work and home is really nice.

    Not everything is perfect – they ran a survey about getting vaccinated a couple weeks ago, and while the majority said they’re getting it, a not-insignificant amount said they aren’t, and quite frankly, I have real issues with those people coming back into the office if I don’t know who to avoid. We also have the inevitable issue of some people who never come in expecting those of us who do to pick up the slack in various areas. But compared to sitting at my counter hating life, this is paradise.

  157. HS Teacher*

    I was thankful to work for a school district that took our health seriously and let anyone who had a comorbity teach from home. However, since I became fully vaccinated, back in March, I have been trying to get back to teaching in person. I have lots of teacher friends who are thrilled to remain at home, but in my opinion, teaching from home took away the worst AND best parts of teaching; I really missed the best parts.

    I found my mental health getting very fragile and felt isolated (I also live alone; I had started dating someone right before the pandemic took hold, and our relationship didn’t survive it). My district would not let me return to work without a doctor’s note saying I could, which I appreciated, but it delayed my return.

    Unfortunately, I am still on the remote team, although I can go into campus and teach from my room, which I do a few times a week, so I’m still not back to normal teaching, but at least I can go to work when I need to interact with people.

  158. I Hate Working From Home*

    I cannot wait to return to the office!
    I have previously quit jobs because of how much I hated working remotely. I have a hard time feeling motivated to focus on work when consistently working from home. I love the occasional work from home day if I have a big project to focus on but I struggle with day to day tasks. I find myself procrastinating on projects, feeling much more anxious about speaking up and asking questions, and quite frankly am just not a great employee when working from home. I know this about myself which is why I swore I would never work remotely again. And that’s how I felt in pre-pandemic times and adding the pandemic anxiety on top of it all has made it really hard.

  159. HR Exec Popping In*

    As someone further along in my career, I honestly can not wait to get back to the office. I miss the casual connectivity with colleagues, people on my team, and individuals across the organization. I have a great home office set up and yes, I can do my job perfectly effectively from home. But there is something powerful about the causal relationships – the chats in the hall about what folks did on the weekend, what they are working on, how the day is going – that really help me have a better sense of the organization and I miss that. I know even when we return to the office it will never be the same again as so many people will continue to work remotely either full time or several days a week, but it will be an improvement over the forced scheduling of zoom calls to collaborate.

  160. Dana*

    Despite the fact that I’m an extreme introvert, and could contentedly go for weeks without seeing anyone but my partner, I’m very eager to go back.
    The main thing is that I’m a professor and it’s so much harder and less pleasant to teach via Zoom than in person. I no longer get to enjoy the normal connection and rapport with students, which is…the main appeal of the job. I no longer feel like I know them as people and find it far more difficult to remember who said such-and-such, or anything else about them as individuals. Worse, I know they’re not learning as much and not getting nearly as good an educational experience from this, no matter how hard I try.
    But I also really miss having separate work and play spaces. I used to be pretty focused on work when in my office, and then I’d go home and relax; I now find it much harder to just focus on grading for a few hours, because I’m doing the grading on the same computer I normally goof around on.
    There are some definite conveniences to working from home, but they aren’t worth it to me.

  161. CatMintCat*

    I learnt through Covid that I am not nearly the introvert I always thought I was. We only shut down for six weeks (Australia) and I was miserable and stressed the whole time, to the point that if it happened again I would look at my leave options rather than attempt to work from home.

  162. Conflicted Ambivert*

    I’m conflicted.

    I know I can be more usefully productive in the office – much of what I do is “project management for non-managers,” meaning that social networking and making eye contact goes a long way to making things happen. It’s been harder trying to do it all over Zoom and email – people can just ignore an email and be unavailable for zoom where they can’t ignore you tapping on their doorframe and saying “Got 30 seconds to answer a question?”

    That said, our teams are about half dispersed anyway, a number of higher-ups probably will work from home a lot more often, and there are still concerns about putting us all in small meeting rooms — so I’ll still be taking most meetings via zoom. And the lack of real eye contact plus the lack of the ability to have natural conversational overlap with audible ‘you’re next’ cues is exhausting. And that’s not going to change.

    I also feel like I’ve literally lost social/interpersonal skills in the last year, and the thought of rebuilding them is also exhausting. I miss people and small talk and coffee hour so much, but I’m also dreading trying to pick up those relationships and social skills where I left them 16 months ago.

    tl:dr — I miss the office and want to go back, but I want to go back in time to the pre-COVID workplace, and that’s what my employer is talking about yet.

  163. Beth*

    Now that I’m vaccinated and my university is requiring vaccines for anyone planning to be on campus in the fall, I can’t wait to get back. Actual in-person library access? Seeing my colleagues and advisors? Working in a space that isn’t my bedroom? All long-overdue and much-needed. But most of all, getting rid of (or at least reducing) zoom classes will be a huge quality-of-life improvement.

    I’d be a lot more hesitant if I weren’t vaccinated, if I didn’t trust that most people around me would be vaccinated, or if I had small kids or other can’t-be-vaccinated folks at home. But given my specific situation, I’m very excited for it.

  164. mreasy*

    I miss my office and my coworkers, but not my commute! I am dreading going back in for that reason, but if my trip there was easier I would love to return.

  165. Denver Gutierrez*

    I don’t have the kind of job that can be done from home, so all of us have worked onsite the entire pandemic, which is fine. Despite being an introvert, I would not want to be stuck at home all the time. I need to get out of the house.

    My situation is that we have been working on an appointment-only basis instead of being open to the general public like usual and it has been amazing! Everyone I work with says it has been so much less stressful and it is much easier to connect with visitors when you can do it one-on-one and without the distraction crowds of people provide. It has also weeded out those who aren’t serious. But I know that, despite managing to keep business up while not being open, we will eventually fully open once more. I am dreading that day and secretly hope it at least won’t happen until the summer. My coworkers feel the same way. I know management is toying with the idea of keeping some days appointment-only and opening fully on others, so that would be okay. We’ll see what happens.

    1. Denver Gutierrez*

      Oops, meant to write I secretly hope it won’t happen until *after* the summer. Sorry.

  166. nnn*

    Employers: find out which of your employees are eager to return to the office and which ones would rather continue working from home, and start looking at redistributing work and cross-training employees so as many people as possible can have their preference!

    This is a fairly easy way to create a win-win scenario and boost everyone’s morale

    1. alienor*

      It’s weird to me that more employers aren’t doing this. Every good-size office probably has a group of people who want to go back, so why not let those people go back–full-time, if that’s their preference–and leave everyone else in peace? (Control, that’s why. But still.)

  167. K.K.*

    I am very grateful I was able to be protected through WFH, but I do not do well stuck alone with a computer all day. Despite my housemate also working from home, I have been battling loneliness pretty badly. I do think that WFH with a normal outside of work social life will be better than in pandemic, but I am really struggling with my employer’s emerging return to work framework. I don’t miss the office, I miss the team. And with everyone basically going to be able to WFH or not as they prefer, I am really concerned that I will have the choice to be lonely at home or lonely in the office. And that every meeting will be a hybrid meetings with some people face to face and others remote, a format that does not work for my brain at all. Additionally, we’re not allowed to move out of state. So I am stuck without everyday in-person family interactions, but without in-person coworker interactions either.

    We haven’t actually gone back yet so there’s some chance it will all work out. Maybe my team will coordinate which days we are in the office. Maybe I will find a few work buddies to be consistently in-person with and the rest will be minor annoyances. I love that my employer is acknowledging that different people have different needs, but there seems to be a very real possibility that this will lead to me personally leaving the field I’ve been in for ten years and otherwise love. I was never a great personality fit for the industry, and I know I cannot do 40+ hours a week alone indefinitely.

  168. Heffalump*

    I’ve been teleworking for a bit over a year, occasionally going in to take care of something that couldn’t be handled remotely. The downside of WFH for me is that I do computer-aided drafting with a 3D modeling program, and sometimes I need to show a coworker a 3D model or drawing I’m working on. This entails me sharing my screen in Microsoft Teams. Sometimes I’ll do screen captures and save them as JPGs. In some cases I’ve used a graphics program to put text, arrows, etc., on a JPG to get a point across to a coworker. If it were a matter of “make the body copy 12-point Times Roman,” it would be much simpler. Many of our drawings are ledger size, but I have only a letter-size printer at home.

    My takeaway from going in occasionally is that for it to really work well, both (or all) parties to a conversation need to be on-site.

    Having said that, I like not chewing up 90 minutes a day commuting, buying less gas, and being less dependent on my car. When the time comes, I’m going to at least ask if I can WFH some of the time. My ideal situation would be to live very close to work, but that isn’t going to happen.

  169. TechWorker*

    I’m looking forwards to being back in the office, but to be honest being back with masks and social distancing feels like it’s barely worth it. My company is thinking of mandating 3 days/week in office (vs 5 pre pandemic, except for very specific roles), and as management we’ve been asked to try to ensure people understand the value of being in. Which I totally do – but I also think it feels a bit tone deaf to go on about how great it’ll be once we’re back in when for many people ‘big groups’ == ‘risk’. For me I think that’ll go once vaccinated (not had the chance yet) but I think there’ll be a bit of a mental barrier to get through for some even beyond that.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I definitely don’t want to go back into the office even part time for as long as masks are necessary. For some it’s a minor inconvenience, but when I wear it, I can’t focus on anything else, and with so much of the face covered, there’s so much non-verbal communication that you just don’t see. Online meetings on camera are better than in-person meetings with a mask. Luckily my org has no plans to return to the office until September. We had a liberal WFH policy even before the pandemic so I really hope that’ll continue. Our flexible work practices are one reason why people in general are happy to work here.

  170. Faithful Reader*

    I’m used to working remotely (I had a job as a consultant many years ago and worked from home when I wasn’t on the road.) In my current job, we had the option to work from home on a one-off basis as needed, so the transition during the pandemic was pretty smooth for me. That said, I’ve been back in the office for about a month now and I’m very happy to be here — I was really starting to miss that natural division between work and home (despite having a dedicated work space in my house.) So no, OP, you’re definitely not alone!

  171. gbca*

    *waves hand wildly*

    Me! Me! I cannot wait to get back into the office. I feel insanely privileged to have been able to WFH this past year+, but I’m so over it! Sick of my kitchen table, sick of zoom, sick of having to schedule meetings to handle what would be a quick hallway conversation. As a working parent I certainly appreciate more flexibility and am glad that it looks like that’s here to stay. But I really miss being in an office for the most part. Also, I am not even an extrovert – I’m a mild-to-moderate introvert.

  172. Lana Kane*

    I am starting to go back to the office once a week, and I look forward to that day every week. It’s likely that this will be my new normal, and I’m considering going twice a week. A hybrid model is good for my work-life balance.

    I like teleworking, but 5 days a week is too much for me. In the past, I worked remotely all week for 5 years and I left that job because I couldn’t handle the isolation and the hit to my ability to grow.

  173. Maybe not*

    It’s been an intense year at home and it will be a huge shift to go back. I would guess many people, like me, know that there are tons of things that will be great about being back in the office, but are reticent just because it will be so huge to make that change.

  174. Simply the best*

    My office has been mostly closed this whole time, but my coworkers and I have been able to pop in randomly throughout the pandemic. As of today we’re all vaccinated and today we actually planned a little office lunch. I was not super looking forward to going into the office, but I did want to go see all of my co-workers and meet a few new ones in person. And it actually turned out to be delightful. We didn’t get much work done because of the novelty of actually being in person and spending time with other human beings was too much distraction. But just this one day has shifted my feelings about being back in person. Just for the couple hours that I was there it was like I’d never left.

    We are not planning to open our office until August, but when we do everyone will have different schedules instead of everyone coming back full time. I really appreciate that our ED is going to speak to each staff person to come up with an in person / work from home schedule that makes the most sense for each of us and our jobs individually. That feels so much better than a one size fits-all approach.

  175. erdbird*

    SO looking forward to going back! I’m very privileged to have been able to work from home, but I desperately miss the office. I’m sure that some sort of hybrid model will be developed, which would be fine, but the all-or-nothing WFH plans are no good.

    I work fairly independently from the rest of my team on projects that are not very collaborative, so if I’m not in the office my contact with my coworkers is minimal. With some of the COVID-specific projects I’ve worked on, it is not uncommon for me to go three days without going outside. I live alone so it’s been really isolating to not have my normal socialization channels that might take the edge off if I was WFH under non-pandemic circumstances. I’m an introvert and like being by myself, but this is too much for too long.

    The other thing I miss is the routine of going to my office. I can build quite a bit of movement into my day depending on how I arrange my commute and I really miss the geographic separation from work and time for listening to audiobooks and podcasts that comes from commuting.

  176. The School Admin*

    I am back and have been since September. My team and I thrive on the connections and conversations that we have. We are a big boisterous collaborative group that has hated being online. We thrive on getting our priorities to the front through informal meetings than through formal channels. I have had more ability to get my small ideas and projects to my bosses in informal hallway conversations and quick got 2 minutes to ask a question than I did the months we were at home.
    I do love that now there is flexibility to work from home at times. I’m trying to get my senior through the last 5 weeks of school and being able to work in the morning at home until he is off to school.

  177. Ele4phant*

    I want to go back!

    Maybe not every day (while I always had the freedom to work from home I usually only ever did it if I had a reason, like a contractor coming or an appointment in the middle of the day), I’ve learned that while I’m plenty productive from home, there’s no substitute for in person when it comes to relationship building.

    So I imagine I’ll be splitting my time between home and the office more evenly, but definitely still going a few days a week.

  178. iliketoknit*

    For me the worst thing about the pandemic is that I’ve become discontent with both options. I never liked WFH in the before times, because it was important to me to have work/life boundaries, I wanted to keep my work stuff out of my home, and when I was home I wanted to do home stuff. I still tend to feel that way (also I think I’m more productive in the office overall, though not by a lot), but I do have the luxury of keeping work stuff to one room I just don’t really enter when I’m not working. More significantly, though, I’ve also discovered the joys of wearing sweats all day, not doing my hair, not wearing makeup (or sometimes even showering), and not having to worry at ALL what I look like or what other people think of me (barring certain Zoom meetings). That sounds shallow or lazy, but what I really mean is that staying home all the time has really thrown into high relief how much *work* it is to go out into the world and perform appropriate femininity. I’m resentful of the fact that men don’t have to do this. I get that styling my hair every morning, wearing makeup, and trying to choose attractive clothes are choices that I don’t *have* to make, but I’ve done it all my life and it’s really hard to get past the internalized expectations for how I need to look to be in public (plus my work requires business formal semi-regularly so there are certain expectations). In any, even if those are stupid reasons, they make me not want to go back, but I still don’t necessarily love WFH.

    I think the real problem is just that I don’t want to work any more, period. I’m so burnt out. I need to start buying lottery tickets.

  179. Variant Scientist*

    I wanted to go back so much that I went back last August. I couldn’t *stand* working at home. I prefer to keep my home and my work 100% separate.

  180. MulledMind*

    I live in New Zealand, so I guess I have a different story from most. We did 4 weeks of full lockdown but have been back to normal since. 4 weeks was enough. I became depressed. If I had just been allowed to have a break, it would have been fine, but trying to work without motivation or a team around me was impossible for me and I spiralled. Luckily (for me if not others) my company is very “we work best in the office, not from home” so the instant it was allowed, we were back.

  181. Mostly Sarcasm*

    I was going to write in a letter about this! I’m getting a lot of messages from recruiters on linkedin, selling me on jobs that are permanent work from home, as if it’s desirable by default. There are still lots of us out there who are looking forward to taking back our kitchen tables, talking to humans again, and going back to work.

  182. Uh Huh*

    My sister cannot wait to get back to the office! A few of my friends are really excited to get back to the office, too. Some of them have actually started new jobs during the pandemic, so they haven’t been able to meet everyone they work with properly yet.

    Most people I know have said that they want some sort of “hybrid” system, where they spend one day a week or fortnight or month in the office. A few want to be in the office twice a week.

    Personally, I loathe the idea of going back to the office, but I also already have strong relationships with the colleagues I like, and with my main manager (who, I am so relieved to say, is fantastic, which is such a relief after a long line of incompetent and/or toxic managers). My office is also incredibly noisy and disruptive, so I am more productive at home by a long shot, and not having to commute three hours a day has made me happier and healthier.

  183. alienor*

    I have some colleagues who want to go back and are very excited about it, so the LW isn’t alone in that. I do wonder how long it will take for the novelty of being in an office to wear off–it may sound great right now if you haven’t been much of anywhere for more than a year, but within a couple of weeks it’ll be back to endless interruptions, terrible coffee, and being annoyed by other people microwaving fish and making weird noises at their desks.

  184. Squid*

    My husband can’t wait – he thrives on the formalities and structure of the office. I, on the other hand, will strongly consider changing companies if forced to return. Different strokes and all that.

  185. Ontario Library Employee*

    I work at a library so I have been partly working from home and partly at my branch. So it’s not quite the same situation, but I hope it’s in the spirit of the post to say I am excited for when we can finally get back to normal. We’ve offered varying levels of service over the past year (currently only curbside pickup due to Ontario’s stay at home order) but we have not yet gone back to in-person programming. I miss the craft club for seniors I used to run, or the children’s programs we did every Saturday. And baby storytime! I work at what used to be a lively, bustling branch and even when we have been open for browsing it’s just so quiet. I can briefly chat with our regulars when they do curbside pickup but it’s just not the same as when they’d come in. Helping people with our apps is so much easier in person rather than over the phone. There’s Zoom book clubs and online trivia and virtual escape rooms, and kits for crafts and activities that people can pick up and take home, and we have received positive feedback. But for some of our adult programs it was more about getting out and talking to other adults than just doing a craft. Sitting at home just isn’t the sane experience.

    I miss my fun library and look forward to getting back to it. It’s going to be a long road – especially at Ontario’s vaccination rate – but hopefully we can resume in person programs next year.

  186. Bob*

    There are pros and cons to office and WFH.

    Plus extroverts are likely to really want to return while introverts may really like WFH.
    Not to mention commute costs vs home office costs.

    Humans are social beings but how much socialization each of us needs is highly personal.
    Then there is the matter of productivity, it can tank with no oversight and some need oversight otherwise they regress. But a manager should be able to figure out if an employee is slacking at home or not. If they can’t then why employ that person in the first place?

    And of course some jobs cannot be done remotely while many can. And many companies enjoy saving money by offloading costs such as electricity, supplies and technology onto employees. Oh and some employers might try to use it to pay less than local market rate since they can reason that employees can live anywhere so they can pay well below market rates.
    And its harder to micromanage or bully people remotely, which is some manager’s reason to live.

    So in conclusion there is no clean answer here, but the WFH genie is out of the bottle. We will have to see where things land long term.

  187. Pamela Adams*

    I miss my students, I miss the campus, and I miss casually running into people I know.

  188. Stina*

    While the pandemic had allowed me to learn massively diverse skills like our CRM accounts maintenance and basic video-editing and working with the product development team, as my site’s facilities coordinator, I’m eager to get back on site and focus again on this part of my job skills. I really miss the interactions with all the various teams and people and the teenager had their fill of quality mom-time.

  189. Tussy*

    I really think you need to revisit how you are getting permission to re-publish comments because it’s very unclear that you want it and how you are currently doing it probably isn’t actually giving you the permission you need to republish for commercial purposes without attribution.

    It’s a low risk thing, but it’s probably worth doing.

  190. Sweet Christmas*

    I am dying to go back to the office! And I’m an introvert!

    Right now the prevailing story seems to be that introverts are all antisocial Gollum-like creatures happily holed up in our basements somewhere but…that’s not what introversion means at all. It just means I find interpersonal interaction more draining than an extravert, but there are lots of things that people enjoy that are physically and mentally draining (running a marathon! climbing a mountain! playing chess at a champion level!)! I like interacting with people, and there are some things that are just way easier to do in person. I miss hallway chatter, popping into people’s offices to ask a quick question, waiting for food at the microwave and running into someone I haven’t seen in a while making coffee or something, and grabbing lunch with work friends and colleagues.

    Also, I contend that virtual interaction is actually harder for introverts. Interacting with others already feels more effortful, and now you strip away non-verbal communication and add in unintentional crosstalk because of terrible lag; the inability to hide or temporarily withdraw because your face is blasted across everyone else’s screen; the really weird effect of staring at yourself all day long through that tiny window; and the constant temptation of pulling up email while someone is droning on about TPS reports in the background. I have to force myself to pay attention in virtual meetings. And when I am giving a presentation, when I’m in person I take cues on how to proceed based on people’s non-verbal communication; over the virtual meeting, I’m often just staring at rows of pictures of people or glowing circles.

    I miss my daily routine and the built-in transition time of commuting to work. Yes, I even miss commuting! That was my time when I listened to podcasts, downloaded all my thoughts about the day, discovered new music via Spotify random playlists, stopped to do random errands that didn’t feel like enough to leave my house for specifically…sometimes I would just randomly decide to go to happy hour with some folks or something. I miss all of that.

    There are some benefits to working from home, and personally I plan to not go into the office every day (my job is one of those that’s offering flexibility after we return, and most people on my team are planning a 3/2 split – three days in, two days at home). But on the whole, I’d much rather be in the office.

  191. Liv*

    My company are working in a hybrid working policy and I’m so glad. My ideal setup would be 2-3 days from gone, 2-3 days in the office. I enjoyed working from home to get rid of my commute, which can be long cos public transport is perpetually late! I also enjoyed being able to make a bot lunch, catch up on chores, and work from wherever I feel comfortable. However I really miss my colleagues and the random chats throughout the work day.

    Plus, I’ve been on maternity leave for the last 6 months and honestly I’m looking forward to getting out of the house and having some time away from my baby! But my company has said my department will be WFH until at least September. I go back to work next month and I’m worried about doing it from home as I think it’s going to be much harder to switch off from mum mode into work mode – although I will enjoy being able to just pop out of my office and see my baby (my husband will be the full time care giver for our baby once I go back to work, so she’ll be at home all the time)

  192. Phil*

    Australia’s been more or less reopened for some time now. When we went back to the office, I was rather reluctant. I have a good setup at home, and immediately before lockdown I had moved to a new place quite some distance from the office and spent the better part of a year never once having to deal with that commute.

    But when I did go in, I realised something: it made me feel normal again! Seeing my coworkers in person, grabbing a cheeky breakfast at the cafe, having easier access to network content, there’s plenty of positive to neutralize the negative.

  193. EchoGirl*

    I’ve been working from home since long before the pandemic (the last time I worked an on-site job was July 2017), so I can’t speak to the whole “going back to the office” thing, but I can second some of the things people have said about the downsides of working from home. There’s a definite downside to not having separate spaces for “work” and “home”; I’m lucky enough to have a home office, but that hasn’t always been the case, and even now I can get the sense of things “bleeding over”. Also, like some of the other commenters, I have ADHD, and it’s really easy to get distracted/sidetracked and not get stuff done. Admittedly, part of this may have to do with a complete lack of structure that even most people on WFH don’t have — I freelance and business has been slow — but the blurring of boundaries between work and home doesn’t help. And not having a reason to put on “real” clothes/leave my house/interact with people other than my husband hasn’t been great either. I’m probably someone who would do well on a hybrid schedule with 2-3 days in the office and my WFH days a bit more structured. (My work setup isn’t something I can easily move from place to place, so co-working spaces or going to the library/coffee shop aren’t an option.)

  194. Techpup*

    We are about to return to the office one day a week, though some people have been back at the office full time for a while (their preference). On the one hand, I miss interacting with my colleagues (and it is certainly easier to train new employees in person than on Zoom!), on the other hand I am dreading having to commute once more (traffic totally sucks). Another drawback is that our company decided to institute “hot desking” for those who only come in a few days a week.

  195. ToodlesTeaTops*

    I have been one of the few who has worked in office during the whole pandemic but following mask and social distancing practices. And you know what? I can’t wait for all of it to be over. I started a new job in the pandemic and I don’t know what half of my office staff look like without masks. There is also special training that I am supposed to get that I can’t because no one is traveling. I imagine it feels worse for the OP because while I get to go my office for work, I still feel too tied up at home. I miss the gym, library, and other social-y things that I did.

  196. over caffeinated sloth*

    Not going to lie, I took a promotion/side step during the pandemic and Alison’s answer here was so validating. I don’t feel like I’m doing as well as I could have done in the office because my colleagues are all really busy and the answer to my questions was often ‘you’ll figure it out’ as they didn’t have time to dedicate to walking me through things. In the office I’d have just heard them and my boss dealing with things and would have sucked it up like a sponge, stuff like oh that’s how you answer that question or oh they’re doing that and I’m not so I should start. It’s not a job role where someone can run you down a list of things to do daily but there will be things they do without thinking about it that I’m not doing as no one has a list of ‘things the new person should know’ and can’t think of them all on the fly. It’s made it all so much harder. It’s the part where people have to set aside time for a full on zoom call instead of just happening to catch each other in the kitchen at the same time whilst making a drink. It’s been tough. I also moved into a much larger department and there are people I likely need to know that I’ve never met and no one has told me to introduce myself to, so I’m behind on that sort of networking with my new wider colleagues as well. I’ve had one dose of vaccine, second one coming soon and I can’t wait to feel safe to go into the office and for the office to be fully open. We didn’t have the option to keep going in, the whole company more or less was told that we weren’t permitted to be on site, period.

  197. agnes*

    I am very excited about going back to the office. I like the spontaneous collaboration that occurs, the last minute wanna grab lunch? opportunities, and the physical separation of work and home. I’ve gotten some of my best input on projects from people who would not normally be included in scheduled meetings, but who asked me in the break room “what are you working on” and then provided some great input when I told them.

    What I’ve seen happening during this pandemic is a narrowing of who’s invited to the table when important issues are being discussed, and I’m convinced that is due to the “out of sight out of mind” mentality that can take over remote work environments. Our workplace culture has suffered during covid, and it’s going to take some time to rebuild what we had.

  198. le teacher*

    I am thrilled to see this question! I almost sent in something like this myself. My situation is a bit different because I am a teacher, so being in person is just a fundamentally huge part of my job. Virtual teaching has been fine but it does not compare at all to the daily buzz of a high school campus, seeing the students laughing and interacting in person, catching a game after school and cheering on students, browsing their artwork in the fine arts hallway, running into a senior and chatting about their college plans, seeing a teacher and mentioning a new idea for a lesson…wow I cannot wait to go back to normal!

    I have been really curious about this perspective because like the OP I feel like all I ever hear are people really not wanting to go back to the office. But I feel like I would hate working from home indefinitely!

  199. AnOh*

    Yes! I’ve actually been one of a small group of people who have been going into the office since we were all ordered to work from home just because of our positions, we need to occasionally be at the office to keep things running. I’ve had a lot of flexibility and basically decide when I absolutely need to go in and when I don’t. We did end up downsizing our office and I couldn’t go in for 1 month while our new office was being prepared and it was the longest month of my life! I thought I would love working from home since I’m such an introvert but I realized those small moments of interaction with co-workers is just the right amount of social contact I need to not feel completely isolated. Our office is “re-opening” in July but most won’t be returning since we did downsize. I’m ready for the post-meeting food leftovers the most. Raiding my fridge during WFH is just not the same as scavenging leftover bagels and pastries

  200. Jesse*

    There are several people in my office who couldn’t wait to come back, but it seems like they were unhappy with their home life and missed being able to escape it for work, not specifically that they wanted to go back to the office.

  201. DownWithJPP*

    I am excited to go back in a hybrid set up. We’re required to be there a certain number of days per month and we can structure that as we want/need. I love working at home some days but it would be nice to have to get dressed and see people so this is a perfect set up and really, was smart of my employer because it made me stop looking around so much!

  202. ChefManz*

    My company went fully remote last March, and has been ever since. We have no plans to go back to the office any time soon, even though (I think) the whole company is fully vaccinated. (We’re in a very liberal leaning US State.)

    Very early into the pandemic/work from home order, I went in to the office, got my entire desktop, my dual monitors and my chair, and was very luckily able to turn a spare room into a home office.

    I am immensely sick of working from home and being at home all the dang time. Before, our company had a ROWE policy (Results Only Work Environment) so I could work from wherever I felt like being at any given time. I didn’t work from home or anywhere else but the office very often, but it was nice to know I had the choice if I felt like going away for a week or something. I think the thing that bothers me above all is not having the choice.

    As much as people lament the commute, I never realized until now how much my commute turned my brain on and off for work, and helped me separate work life and home life. Now that work is the next room down the hall from my bedroom, it’s hard to get into work mode, because I don’t have to get up and get ready and leave the house. I also miss my work friends and my colleagues and talking to people in the office. I live alone so I don’t really talk to anyone except clients all day.

    1. Melissa*

      Cutting off my work brain at the end of the day has been very difficult. If we stay with some percentage of WFH, I’m going to have to move my desk out of the living room…and carve out a space I can’t see when the workday is over.

  203. M*

    I have absolutely hated working from home. The first two weeks were a fun experiment, but after that I became miserable. I live alone and in practical total isolation. My normally friendly coworkers are all very busy and don’t make time for virtual chats or happy hours. I’m not included in projects like I use to, and I use to go from a VERY busy week, to not enough to keep me busy for a day. My employer recently announced we will not be returning to an office. I’ve been there 7 years and love my company and use to love my work, but I am genuinely unproductive and unhappy. I am considering changing jobs over this, but I dont know how I’d explain that to an employer, “My company remained work from home and I can’t be trusted to get anything done in that way?” I’ve considered coworking spaces but it doesnt fix the altered team dynamic.

  204. Melissa*

    I’m looking forward to getting back into the routine. (public library, in a support office) We’re being started slowly; public service positions first, and my office is non-public facing at all. We’re going to two days per week in the office.

    I am hoping that the non-public jobs will be offered a split WFH / In Office schedule. We’re a small subset of the workforce. I foresee some fighting over that, because our HR head is on record as saying they don’t believe WFH people are actually producing.

    But WFH kept our organization from defaulting on bills, losing supplier discounts, etc. We also purchased a HUGE amount of materials our patrons used through the shutdown. At a time when the public service staff couldn’t work, but kept their salaries, our department was producing at around 90% of our normal capacity.

    I think that will get glossed over in the fight to restructure work post-Covid.

  205. Spotted Kitty*

    I’m excited about the prospect of hybrid in-office/WFH. I had JUST gotten my own large cube at the office before the pandemic started and I didn’t even get to break it in. My desk at home is just barely large enough for my laptop and a second monitor and when I’m sitting at it, I can touch my bed. I like being able to spread all my calendars and notes and things out across a wide swath. But I do also like the idea of working in pajamas. If I could have three days in the office and two at home, that would be fabulous.

  206. Veryanon*

    Before this all started, I worked mainly in an office, with occasional days at home to let in service providers or if I had doctor’s appointments, that kind of thing. My company had a good infrastructure in place to support remote work. I always enjoyed my days working at home and thought my pivot to all working at home would be fine. Surprisingly, I really, really miss being in the office. It’s difficult to replicate the impromptu collaboration with colleagues at home, and frankly I just miss seeing people outside of my family. My company is being very cautious about return to office plans, so it’s unlikely I’ll be going back at least for the next couple of months, but I’m looking forward to it.

  207. Junior Dev*

    I just got a new job. The old job had an office to return to. The new job doesn’t have an office (small startup with employees in different locations) and I’m struggling to figure out how I’ll maintain routine and work-life balance while working from home.

    (The old job was becoming increasingly stressful, in large part because of communication problems that I think were exacerbated by everyone being remote. I’d been looking to leave for a while though.)

    I am glad to have a new job but somewhat sad over not being able to eventually go back to a an office. I’m going to try and see what I can piece together in terms of going to cafes/libraries and working from friends’ houses once things reopen and everyone involved is vaccinated, just to get me out of the house and separate “work time” from non-work time.

  208. Annie Hanson*

    I am definitely looking forward to returning! This is the first time in my adult professional life I’ve had to work from home and it’s been an adjustment. I am not incredibly extroverted but I really enjoy interacting with people-it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of my job (I’m the leave management coordinator at a state agency, in the human resources division). Being home by myself has been quite isolating.

    I’ve also taken note of the health impacts-when I was going into the office, I walked to the bus/light rail stops, around the complex where many of the government buildings are located, through the indoor underground tunnels during inclement weather-and also the fact that I stress eat more frequently at home. So a return to the office will aid my physical being too!

  209. Jane*

    Desperate to go back. Desperate!

    How noisy are my neighbors? VERY NOISY!!!!

    Thud, thud, thud, slam, thud, thud … noisy phone call … slam, thud, slam, … “you’ll never guess what’s happened?”.

    Well, no, I’d never guess, but I’m sure you’re going to tell this tale so loudly that I’ll be able to hear it through the apartment wall.

    Thud, thud. Laugh. Thud. Oh, it’s 1am, let’s make a noisy phone call …

  210. Orange You Glad*

    I am eager for my office to open again but not so I can go back every day. I am planning to work in the office 1-2 days per week and the rest from home. Part of my job still relies on snail mail and that has been hard to manage from home. Right now I receive a box of mail weekly from the office. The problem is a big chunk of it is not for me, a lot can be glanced at and trashed, and then the remaining that I have to respond to takes up valuable space in my home office. My home office setup is a fraction of the size of what I had in the office so I feel like I’ve been drowning in mail at home. Then there is the issue of disposing of all this paper – it overloads my local trash pick up.

    I don’t mind the commute much. I’ve been “commuting” regularly during the pandemic because my closest grocery store, Target, gym, restaurants, etc are all next to my office complex. It would save me a lot of time if I could run all my errands after working in the office a few days per week.

  211. Alice*

    At my branch of my organization, individual contributors don’t have offices, but cubicles. Every time I hear a manager (who has an office) or an individual contributor from another branch (where they have offices) say “I’m looking forward to getting back to the office!” I want to make a really nasty comment.
    I don’t of course — it would be rude and unprofessional, and unjustified, as the people making these comments are mostly not the people who keep deciding to spend their budget on other things than renovating our cubicles into offices. But I’ve been more productive by objective metrics this year because I can focus when I want to, without being disturbed by my colleagues, and I can make noise (Zoom meetings and presentations) when I want to, without worrying about disturbing my colleagues in turn.

  212. JamieG*

    By and large, I’m excited to return. I work in a group at a large company that has been very vocal about providing flexibility even before the pandemic, so it’s more a question where we’re asked what we want than told when we need to be where. Over the years, depending on my role and duties I’ve been more in the office or more working from home. (At one time a few years back, I only went in to the office one afternoon a week; in 2019 I was in the office pretty much every day.) I’ve taken being able to WFH pretty much whenever I say for granted, and when I read people being concerned , I try to remember that many people never had that option before and want to keep it. I love my WFH days and my office days both, and I hope that more companies look to provide enough flexibility that people can feel that their time spent in the office and time working at home is well spent and productive.

  213. LizM*

    I’m really looking forward to having my sewing/crafting space back. I’ll probably continue to telework a couple days a week, but will switch back to a laptop when the majority of my work is happening at work.

  214. Caterpillar*

    Work is being flexible about how we come back to the office, but I’m going back 100% to reclaim my work-life balance. I’m not necessarily excited to be back in the office, but I am very much looking forward to having that distinct line between work and home back again. I’m not good at keeping it in place when my work is in my home – it’s way too easy to get distracted with home things like food or tidying when I should be working and then I end up working later and it just feels like I’m working all the time.

  215. ElleKay*

    I’m with you!
    I am less productive at home, my wifi is less reliable and has to be shared with a housemate who’s a teacher and leading classes a couple days a week, my neighbors have been renovating (I think?) judging from the construction noise, I don’t have an “office”, and it’s hard to switch off at the end of the day.

    None of this is true in the office! I have a dedicated office, with a door, reliable internet, and -possibly most importantly- when I leave in the evening I am done! I am much better about “ending” my day when I physically leave the office. This means I use my time better and am more productive, in fewer hours, from the office!

    I’m back in the office 2 days a week and I love it; I’m not in a rush to get the rest of the way back now that I have this release valve but I totally agree with you!

    1. Caterpillar*

      Amen. The best part about being done with school was being able to just shed all my work responsibilities as I walk out the office door. No homework, no stressing that I’m relaxing when I should be working, I work at work, and anywhere else my time is my own.

      I am super grateful that I was able to work from home – I have bad anxiety and being able to isolate as much as I was did make the last year less stressful overall, even with the terrible work-life balance – but I am also glad it’s nearly over. I got my second shot a week ago, so I’ll be back in the office full-time next week.

  216. Drafter*

    I just had a conversation about this with my husband! What I am most concerned about is that workplaces will miss the point. I would have NEVER accepted an all WFH position before the pandemic (my husband totally would have), and as someone who started a new job during the pandemic it’s frightfully clear what I am missing out on (I still don’t have a good handle on who’s who, office politics, etc). I’ve had deep, lasting friendships form in previous job that have no chance in this one (which will eventually stop being remote) because of WFH. BUT what I really want isn’t WFH. It’s flexibility. I had to decide on transportation options for my kid’s preschool next year, and the ONLY way I could agree to a 5:15 pickup is because I am assuming that when we return to the office a. It won’t be every day b. It will be ok if I flex hours so that I can do some work late at night or earlier in the morning c. the norm about talking about childcare needs won’t change. And I don’t WANT my little kid in aftercare until 6 p.m. I love being able to have evenings with him. So, what I’m really hoping is that offices welcome people back but also remember that discovery of people’s lives out of the office. Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic about the maintaining flexibility portion. (Though I guess I’m optimistic enough that I assume I’ll be able to do a 5:15 pickup at least half the week, and that my husband will be able to do the same).

  217. Hydrangea McDuff*

    I am thrilled to be back in the office. My work is more efficient, my relationships with colleagues are stronger and although I miss some of the convenience, I like having boundaries on my day. (I miss my dog though!)

    I’m an extroverted introvert so definitely have to manage the emotional load piece—which has also always been true in every job I have had. :)

    I work on a small team and we range from ultraextroverted to ultraintroverted. But personally what I notice with my very introverted colleague, who would prefer to stay remote, is that misunderstandings and workflow are harder, not easier, the longer she stays remote. Her challenges with interpersonal communication and teamwork are magnified.

    I am also fortunate to be fully vaccinated for several months and to have a workplace with really strong Covid precautions, plus stable housing, a supportive partner, and older children who are back in school and also able to manage themselves. I’d feel different if any of these factors were different.

  218. Tired*

    I’m super pleased that you’re happy to be going back to the office, LW! I know a lot of my colleagues are, as are some of my friends and family members.

    I’m happy to be going back to the office one day a fortnight because I get to pick which day I go in, and can engineer it to make sure I see certain people, and avoid others.

    A lot of this is just me being a woman in her mid 30s who is sick of having to constantly bend and give in the office, without getting anything in return, though. I’m also loving the fact that I don’t have to spend all day trying to force my ADD brain to work in a noisy, disruptive, open office environment, and to make sure I “conform” to aggravating social expectations. Not having to mask my ADD symptoms is heaven on earth, as is actually being able to work in my own space without interruptions. I am very productive, very happy and finally have a work/life balance.

    But I am thrilled for all my colleagues who want to be back in the office full time! I’m very happy for them. It’s really important that you can work from where you want to work from.

    I think, unless your job literally needs to you be in one particular place to get it done (and I am extremely fortunate in that mine does not), employers need to be flexible, especially if they want their employees to actually be productive.

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