the people who’d rather quit than give up remote work

We’ve heard rumblings for a while now that workers are quitting, or threatening to quit, if they can’t continue to work from home. That’s because for many people remote work has been great—the lack of commute, flexible schedule, and more casual dress have provided a massive quality-of-life boon, to say nothing of the productivity increases some workers have discovered without regular interruptions from chatty colleagues.

But are people really willing to quit their jobs if they can’t keep working in PJ’s? I’ve been curious about how real the trend is, so I asked all of you, ended up pretty surprised by the response, and wrote about this over at Slate today. You can read it here.

{ 541 comments… read them below }

  1. NewYork*

    I moved away, and now they want me back. Well, a competitor just offered me fully remote position.

    1. Cat Tree*

      I think this is the biggest factor. It’s a potential perk/benefit that some companies offer, and the market has currently swung to the benefit of workers in many fields. Many people won’t quit over returning to the office if it means being unemployed. But if a different company offers then remote work, many people now consider that a high priority sometimes even if it means less pay.

      1. Shut It Down*

        Yep. Remote work has become a perk that people with options will prioritize, it’s as simple as that. And, having done remote work for many months, a certain sector of the workforce can now definitively reject the received wisdom that “butts in seats” is superior or necessary for many jobs.

        1. Dusting My Own Crops*

          I think many of us aren’t so much willing to quit, but seeing it as one more reason to change jobs if we receive an offer, AND WE ARE LOOKING. I had an offer that is an on-site position, but was much closer to home and paid better. I stayed because of the counteroffer. Many of my coworkers have accepted positions elsewhere.

          It’s not just the remote work that makes us want to leave, it’s also the fact that many companies are now offering stating wages that are higher than what we make after a decade or two.

          1. Jen*

            This is why I left my job in April. I had wanted to quit a year ago, but with the pandemic and everyone getting furloughed, I stayed. When my boss kept piling more and more on my plate without being willing to give me a raise over the past 2 years or taking anything off my plate, then our CEO returning and treating me like a personal assistant, it was the final straw. My husband and I decided that we can afford for me to leave and take my time looking for a job, since his position is extremely stable, we have a decent amount of savings, and his pay is enough to support us. On my last day of work, I had to post my job and offer more pay than what I had even asked for in my previous negotiations. It was a slap in the face. Also, my replacement and my manager were scared off from my job after the first 10 hours of training because the workload was “overwhelming” so they hired the receptionist that I had been asking for multiple times for 2 years! Oh yeah, and I have now been gone for 3 months but they still keep calling me weekly and asking me for help, even though I left videos and step-by-step instructions with screenshots for all my procedures! I have been told that 3 people have now been hired to do my tasks–it would have saved the company more money to have just hired a receptionist and pay me what I had requested.

            1. FallingSlowly*

              Wow, Jen, they were so short-sighted! Definitely their loss, but it must be frustrating to see.

              I wish you great success in finding a new role that suits you perfectly and where you are properly valued.

            2. allathian*

              Ouch… I’m so sorry.

              But 3 months is enough. I hope your former boss is willing to give you a great reference, though, sounds like they only realized what a treasure you were when you left… But if they keep calling you weekly for help, I think you should start charging them a consultant’s fee.

            3. MissBaudelaire*

              Wow, talk about tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.

              You’re kinder than me. Those three months of ‘please help!’ calls would have been met with “Please consult the materials I left for you.”

              1. Rayray*

                I would have answered that way for the first week, but after that their phone number would have been blocked.

      2. Teapot Repair Technician*

        Yes, no one is quitting and entering a life of poverty rather than return to the office.

        The headline could just as well be, “Employers attract jobseekers by offering WFH”

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          This is true of just about every “Job markets are changing” article I’ve seen this year.

          “People aren’t applying for food service jobs anymore” can be replaced by “Restaurants that are hiring and retaining employees are offering better pay and benefits.” For some reason, the outlets putting out these stories are leaning really hard on the framing that employees who are looking out for their own interests in a changing job market are lazy and bad, and I’m very not here for it.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                As a millennial who just ate their afternoon snack off a kleenex instead a plate or a napkin, so do I. :)

          1. Clisby*

            Exactly. I live in a tourism-heavy economy, and boy, have I seen the whining from bars, restaurants, and the like that they can’t hire enough people. I have the feeling that if Boeing suddenly couldn’t find enough aerospace engineers, they’d figure out pretty quickly that maybe they needed to look at their pay/benefits/work culture.

            1. Lora*

              In fact we saw exactly this when fracking for gas became a thing: not enough petroleum/energy engineers and geologists to do the job, so energy companies were giving kids barely graduated from college six-figure salaries to work in North Dakota, providing housing (often because due to the boom there was literally no housing to be had), some companies even offering to pay off student loan debt, coaching for PE licensure exams, etc.

              When I was in grad school, pharma was THE thing to do if you were in STEM, there was boatloads of money for R&D and academics were often bought out of tenure track jobs to work for 2X the money in pharma (no grant writing, no teaching obligations). I was bought directly out of my grad school program, offered what was at the time pretty decent money. Then the mergers and acquisitions REALLY went crazy and the gravy train ended, but for a while I gotta say, it was nice to have an on-site massage therapist, a concierge service, a company store complete with all the stuff our various personal care and animal care divisions made, a pre-approved choice of several graduate programs so you wouldn’t have to accrue any more student loans…

              Currently we are having another boom cycle, so my benefits at a large international company consist of: medical, dental, vision, additional accident and hospitalization insurances, life insurance 2X salary standard with extra that can be purchased as you like, a couple of grad school programs covered, professional memberships covered, legal “insurance” for sort of standard legal things (estate planning, real estate transactions, adoption paperwork, immigration paperwork, stuff like that), 401k matching up to 5% of your income last year, pet insurance, group discounts on car and home insurance, plus what they call a “subsidized” cafeteria (ie discount cafeteria pricing) though food isn’t spectacular you can order holiday meals to-go if you don’t want to cook for your family. I forget how much PTO we get for kids because I don’t use it, but vacation is 3 weeks to start +1 week after 5 years.

              1. Okay, great!*

                I wish I knew how you were getting these benefits in pharma!!! My brother is a pharmacist in the retail world right now and they are offered nothing but the line, “you are replaceable”. Come to find out if you get your start in the retail world NO ONE else wants you. Not hospitals, insurance, etc. This has been a problem for him and a lot of his co workers. The pharmacists are there to make sure goals are met. If they can’t keep up with crazy demands, they are immediately replaced. It’s very demoralizing.

                1. Cat Tree*

                  I think this is a case of ambiguous terminology. I think Lora is referring to pharmaceutical companies, not the pharmacists who work with those products. Unfortunately, I think pharmacists are treated more and more like customer service and they get a lot of the same crappy treatment as restaurant and retail workers (which they shouldn’t get either).

            2. AnonMahna*

              I think you’d be surprised at how long they would push their employees to do more with less before finally caving.

            3. MissBaudelaire*

              We’ve had a lot of restaurants here cry that they can’t hire people and ‘no one wants to work’. Then it is pointed out that people do want to work–for livable wage, benefits, and a real schedule. “But if I paid people that much, I’d go out of business!”

              ….I mean, sounds like you don’t make enough money then? I don’t know what to say. Looks like you’re closing if you can’t find people anyway.

            4. Kat in VA*

              I’m in a defense-contracting adjacent industry and paying *gasp* SIGN ON BONUSES has definitely become A Thing again…

              You’re not doing sign-on bonus / higher pay / yearly bonuses / equity / unlimited PTO / other perks? You’ll hemorrhage workers left and right.

              Job market is hot – for jobseekers, and particularly in tech – and companies that have been squeezing two workers to get three workers are finding themselves in the dust right now.

    2. LikesToSwear*

      Employees who work from home and move to a different state can be problematic for the employer. Most states require the employer to have a legal entity in that state, as well as to pay corporate taxes. It’s not always worth it to the employer. I know there are a few states that are a hard no for my employer for hiring anyone that is not willing to relocate. Pretty sure employees who have moved in the past have also been told that they need to move back to their original state or resign.

      1. Lauren*

        Yeah, my coworker needed to confirm she could work from Maine when they moved and she got it in writing, but they could have tossed her completely to not deal with a new state.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Sure and, how often is that coming up? Honest question that I haven’t seen any data or reporting on (though I haven’t been monitoring this closely).

        Is “employees want to move out of state” a widespread issue or is it the exception?

        1. Windchime*

          I live in Washington (the state, not DC) and I moved to a very rural area within the state. My coworker recently moved to a neighboring state. He had to get permission to do it, but they didn’t want to lose him so they agreed. I feel like there has been a very subtle shift in employment lately, and it’s in favor of the employee. I’m glad to see it.

          I would probably not still be working for my employer if I was having to commute in Seattle traffic every day. I love the job and the people; the commute, not so much. Now I have it all; a good job working with nice people, but I live in a rural, sunshiney part of the state.

        2. Daffy Duck*

          I don’t know how widespread, but my ex is fully remote and wanted to move to a different state. His employer nixed the state he wants to move to as they don’t have anyone else there. I moved in town and he got the old house.

        3. Aitch Arr*

          We are seeing it quite a bit at my company.

          Over the last 18 months we’ve maybe had 5% of US employees make the request either to move to a different state or to move so far away from the office within a state (or to a neighboring state) that they are reclassified as a remote employee rather than a work-in-office employee. That 5% = 20 or so.

        4. Loredena Frisealach*

          I was one of those, for family reasons. (Long story short, my mother and sister want to move back to the state I was born because my mother has family here; if they do, I would no longer have family in the state we all lived in. I moved first because I could). I told my manager I was considering it and asked if it would be a problem because of the payroll/tax implications – we are in 4 states that I know of, but didn’t think we had anyone here. Turned out we already had someone living in the state so it was a non-issue.

          I found out recently that another coworker moved to an adjacent state to where the corporate office is. I suspect we’re not going to be the last! Note that I’m a consultant and our office is setup as hoteling for all of the consultants; only back office types (hr/finance/it) have office space.

          1. TardyTardis*

            If I were umpty-ump years younger, I’d move to the Eastern Time Zone and work for a company in the Pacific one remote, because loving to sleep in. And I’d be more effective because I would be working in my real circadian rhythm and not that devised by Dawn Patrol people who fall asleep at 9 pm (one of my bosses was one, and she expected me to answer complex questions at 7:30 am. Oh so not happening).

            1. Loredena Frisealach*

              oh gods do I hear that! My last project had me working with a team in Vietnam, so we went with 9am and 10pm for our daily stand up calls. Which equally inconvenienced us all but didn’t kill sleep. Unfortunately we periodically had demos with a team in Singapore, which was usually at 7am and I was always glassy-eyed! TBH one of the major reasons I love WFH is that I can more closely align with my real sleep habits and still make it online when expected.

    3. mreasy*

      This is why I advocated for flexibility for my department, even though we’re moving back to 3 days at least in office in September (Delta willing). I don’t want to lose good people who do amazing work in order to gain the ineffable “spontaneous collaboration” we are missing out on by not sharing physical space.

      1. Dusting My Own Crops*

        I would love to know how much spontaneous collaboration really happens. From my experience, people who know what they are doing and know how to use technology well enough to be functional in their jobs also know how to use messaging technology and phones. Some face time is good, but office chatter prevents a large amount of work from getting done. I think management underestimate the volume of useless chit chat that really goes on, not to mention harmful gossiping.

        1. Despachito*

          Yes, this!

          I can absolutely identify with the person from the original post who claimed they did not want to work in the office anymore in their lives.

          I know everyone feels differently about this, but I have been remote for many years pre-Covid, and although I miss people sometimes (I have never seen most of the people I collaborate with, and there is very little interaction just as you described) the benefit of not having idle time highly outweighs this for me.

          1. Windchime*

            Me too. The amount of time spent shooting the breeze or being unproductive due to the never-ending yakking of Steve on the team next to ours is mind-boggling. I get more done at home in half the time. And we do collaborate; anytime I need to talk to a coworker, they are a Teams call away. We can share our screens, talk, compare notes…’s awesome. And I don’t have to listen to Steve.

            1. TardyTardis*

              I once had a co-worker who I ended up taking up work from because she was so bright and chatty (and then she’d supervise me. Fortunately she ended up being gone after awhile). I would have been very happy working remote given proper resources.

        2. Klio*

          Our management basically twiddled their thumbs on how to create synergies and collaborations while everyone was on home office and is now pulling the “put collaborations” card. They had more than a year to see how to get wfh collaborations going and it’s not like we didn’t have tons of online only meetings with our colleagues in other continents before the pandemic.

          1. Kat in VA*

            I get that face time is important, particularly in the more gregarious arenas like Sales, but you can utilize instant-on collab via Slack, Teams, Skype, Zoom, text, cell…the list goes on and on.

            I have an exec who, if our IMing on Teams goes over two-three sentences or so, will immediately call me on Teams video instead. (I got over the messy hair / no makeup stress a LOOOONG time ago).

            That, to me, is no different than him popping out of his office and strolling over to my desk.

            Obviously I’m available in that moment because I”m messaging him on Teams; the other platforms (Skype, Zoom, et al) have chat/call/video function that’s fractionally different than someone sitting on the corner of your desk and displacing your paperwork.

            1. TardyTardis*

              We used Slack all the time at the tax place (“Does anybody know how to figure ACA exemptions for Virginia?”). Fun times.

  2. Jessie J*

    I’m one of those people. We are required to return to the office in a few weeks and I’m giving my notice shortly afterwards. There is zero reason for my team to be in the office and working remotely proved how efficient we are. The manager prefers us in front of them instead due to their personal choice.

    1. High Score!*

      Good luck! Thankfully, my company decided to allow us to WFH as much as we want bc we proved we were even more productive at home. One of my children is job hunting bc her company is threatening to require being in office even tho it’s not necessary.
      Employers are going to have to step up if they want to retain their best employees.

    2. AB2021*

      This. I want to start a support group for professionals who work for a manager who doesn’t like his/her home life/spouse and uses work as a social playground so we all have to be in front of him/her at all times for entertainment value. It’s wearing on me so much. My manager avoids confrontation about work product at all cost for the low performers on our team and continues to insist it will all just “be more efficient” if we are here in front of him every day. When we ask what will be better he has no response. When we ask why we’re coming back he says, it’s just time.

      1. Jessie J*

        This is a similar reason for our manager! They want us to entertain them. It’s very odd. The reason we are more efficient whilst working remotely is due to us not having to entertain the manager and waste time performing non work related talking, etc.

      2. Despachito*

        Ha! Actually, two of my friends have/had such a manager (someone without a partner at that time, no kids or grownup kids, no hobbies), who kept them in the office for long hours just to have distraction. One of them was really insane (a shell company making no profit, they had almost no work, but the boss kept paying them and wanted them to hang around with him long after the usual working hours, almost every day). In the last case, my friend was close to retirement so she put up with it, but it sounded like a genuine nightmare.

        1. Oz Claire*

          At one point, my partner had a manager who was the father of pre-school aged kids. This man came in later than anyone else in the office, took a lengthy lunch break, and then lingered at work until 8pm or so, apparently for the purpose of avoiding the dinner/bath/bedtime routine at home – and at the same time, giving stink eye to any employees that left for the night before he did. It was not great to be his employee, but I suspect it was better than being his wife, yikes.

      3. AllPlayNoWork*

        I feel you on this! I started in a role several years ago which was capable of being done entirely remotely. However, my boss at the time insisted that I needed to be in the office at least a few days a week because, “It’s important to show your face.” What I realized over time is that my boss was largely incapable of working remotely because they utilized the office as a social hangout space (they lived alone). Much of their day was spent going from cube to cube, department to department, to socialize. I cannot tell you how many times I was pulled into their office for hours, just to chat! When COVID hit, our company sent us all home. My boss complained incessantly about working from home. I changed roles in the last year and now am working for a manager who lives 3 hours from our home office. I will be entirely WFH from this point on. It is so refreshing to get through a full working day without incessant interruptions.

    3. Kelly*

      That type of manager also probably needs to have people to “supervise” in order for them to have an actual purpose for their job. Organizations with that mindset probably have one too many layers of management, and find it easier to justify paying for mid level supervisor positions that are essentially glorified babysitters. Their leadership doesn’t trust their workers to do their jobs without being micromanaged.

      I’m still waiting to hear back if I can get one remote day a week. I’ve worked a hybrid schedule with minimal supervision for the past year and have done fine in a public university for the past year and a half. I’ve gotten my regular work done, as well as project work done in a timely and efficient manner. Unlike some colleagues, I haven’t dragged out the project work simply to “look busy” and avoid getting more projects. I’m running out of both regular and project work that can be done in the office when I’m in. I’m in tomorrow and know I won’t have enough work to keep me occupied all day. Part of it is due to my job being dependent on other units that either haven’t resumed pre-covid workflows and/or are understaffed. If I’m expected to be back in full time, I’m going to be bored out of my mind. Having to cover coworkers’ duties pre pandemic was not a positive or fulfilling experience for me – it was a morale drain. That coverage was not reciprocated on their part, so they’ve overdrawn their bank of goodwill. If that pattern resumes in September, it’s going to be more not good.

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        Sadly, our *top* management is who wants us back in our cubes. All of my department’s managers (save one butt-kisser) doesn’t care where we do our work. But our Sr VP/C-Suite leader thinks we should be in the office 5 days a week.

        He only wants us there because he feels like a Very Important Person when he walks around and annoys us with jokes and stories. There is no benefit for us to be there. Our work is done remotely anyway. As in, I request documentation from people in the company and they email it to me or load it to a Sharepoint folder, whether or not they’re in the same set of buildings as I am or if they’re in another state or another country.

        Our Sr VP is very old-fashioned and is afraid of technology. So he thinks none of us are communicating with each other and are siloed in our homes. When, really, my colleagues are so “chatty” on Teams that I often have to put myself on DND. I talk to my team members and people in other departments WAY more now than when we were all on company property.

        1. Kelly*

          My experience work wise this past 16 months really has shown that people either rise to the occasion and made the best of out of some really weird and strange circumstances, including being willing be flexible and trust your people to get things done or did the bare minimum required of them. Same goes for communication and sharing of information, whether it was in person or remotely. The same people that were not great at that in person were also not good at doing it virtually. A recent example is my colleague who supervises student workers who waited almost 3 days to respond to a student’s request for time off. His reasoning – he wanted to consult with our interim supervisor in person rather than over the phone, via email, chat or video call. He made the student wait for his decision because of his stubborn insistence on face to face communication, when the student would have appreciated a faster response.

          Siloing is also a persistent issue where I work, in academia. The irony is that it was more pronounced when we were in person pre pandemic than it was when people were remote or working a hybrid schedule. Switching to almost all virtual meetings has made it possible for more people to participate in discussions and events than would have been possible when we were in person. We didn’t have to worry about finding desk coverage so we could go across campus to an in person meeting. It’s also broken down silos between campus units, especially in regards to our administration’s Pollyannaish response to the pandemic. It’s good knowing that others find their overall response to the pandemic as oblivious and out of touch as I feel. It’s also reassuring knowing that you aren’t the only person frustrated with the lack of responsiveness and clear communication about the return to “normal” services.

        2. KP Gates*

          Ha. Sounds too familiar. Do you happen to work in corporate retail? Our VP stated that we need to physically be in the room when decisions are made. In reality, we just need to be there to stoke his ego.

  3. Charlotte Lucas*

    My job is going semi-WFH. What bugs me is that we don’t get to choose the days. It’s not a hill to die on for me, but I know we’re going to lose people over it. (They won’t out & out quit, just find jobs at other agencies/areas with more flexibility.)

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Same here, but I’m about 90% sure we’re going to be forced back full time once they realize they can’t make it work. I don’t think we could choose our own days, both because “it’s not fair to let one person be off every Friday,” and then sick days, and then vacation days. Everyone’s going to have to be constantly shuffled around and we have so few people, that isn’t gonna work.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think we might go the opposite way once we start losing people. If you can work down the hall or street with a more flexible schedule, & keep your benefits, why wouldn’t you?

      2. A Feast of Fools*

        My team has done a great job while working from home. We’re killing our numbers and completing quality work on time and within budget.

        We’re being forced to go into work 3 days a week starting at the end of August.

        I guarantee you our productivity will drop again.

        I can also guarantee you that our management will blame it on the 2 WFH days and demand that we be in the office 5 days a week.

    2. HotSauce*

      Seeing so many replies like this makes me feel especially grateful of my employer. We’ve been given the choice of 100% WFH, in-person or a hybrid schedule of our choosing. While I have really grown to love working from home (way more productive & love not having to commute), I’ve decided to work in-person one day a week. I figure I can get all of the things that are more difficult to do at home on that day & the rest of the week can be for focusing on my individual projects. For me it’s the perfect balance.

        1. Windchime*

          Same here. I will choose to be 100% from home since I moved over 100 miles from the office, but I have coworkers who are looking forward to being back in the office. Anyone who is planning to be in the office 3 or more days per week will be assigned a permanent workspace. All others who come in 1 or 2 days a week (or only periodically) will need to hot desk. I guess there will be a reservation system or something. The CIO is leaving it up to each manager, and most of the managers are continuing with the flexible, hybrid model of letting people choose.

      1. Honey Badger Don't Care*

        This is what my employer is doing as well. We have hybrid working options to choose from which include 100% in the office to 100% WFH (in any state or country) and everything in between. I am choosing 80% WFH and going into office on Wednesdays. One of my coworkers has moved to another state and will come in 1 week per month. Another will alternate between a full week in the office and a full week at home. The fourth will work from the office 100%. My daily commute is 3.5 to 4 hours RT. I could never go back to doing that every day. It’d be a hill to die on for me.

    3. Rosemary*

      I don’t have an issue with specific days being dictated if I am able to WFH the other 2-3 days. It makes sense if a company either wants to make sure everyone on a team is in together, or if office space has been downsized and only a certain number of people can be in at a time. My (small) company was pretty flexible pre-Covid and it would make me bonkers when I’d schlepp into the office only to myself alone all day bc everyone else decided last minute to WFH that day.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        We went hybrid and my department decided to do set in-office days. People like it because they can plan around it if they have a doctor’s appointment or a repair person coming. I’ve heard another department comment they wish they were allowed to do that. They complain multiple times per week that their manager doesn’t set a schedule other than to say the whole department has to be in the office together a certain day each week. On the other hand, I’m sure some departments would prefer that. Can’t please everyone. :)

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I get that a company might have to choose which days though because otherwise no one would come in on Friday or Monday! Also, they would went to ensure at least some set number of people are in every day (say 1-2 people per department or something).

      But how was this done with the choosing of days? Did they even ask for a preference? Even with the above needs, are the days distributed equitably and according to type of work or work needs?

  4. Firecat*

    Another person who quit due to remote work not being an option. I was working for a hospital who took the – it’s only fair we all be at risk on site approach – for even back office support staff.

    Which sounds kinda reasonable until you bear in mind that clinicians were given N95s while office staff were not. In addition non clinicians were bottom of the barrel for disinfectants, A/C filters and sometimes didn’t even have the 1 surgical mask a week we were mandated to wear. I quit my job and got another, also healthcare related, but 100% remote. Last I checked 70% of my prior non clinical department caught Covid, a way higher rate then even our Covid ward nurses, and one died. I have no regrets leaving and putting my needs above a lofty sense of fairness.

    1. Allypopx*

      I promise it doesn’t sound reasonable to begin with! A *hospital* taking the stance that it’s better to expose more people to a pandemic virus out of some misguided notion of fairness is absolutely horrifying – failing to do it safely is just beyond.

      1. Shut It Down*

        Agreed! It sounds “fair” until you think about it at all. More people exposed = more risk for everyone. To maximize safety for the frontline healthcare workers, everyone who can possibly WFH should do so!

        1. tangerineRose*

          “More people exposed = more risk for everyone. To maximize safety for the frontline healthcare workers, everyone who can possibly WFH should do so!” Yes. This!

      2. kitchensink*

        What the hell. Early on in the pandemic even my obgyn resident husband was doing some shifts from home. The hospital team was trying to keep teams to the bare minimum essential to prevent the spread, which meant some residents took shifts at home doing paperwork, scheduling, and remote visits when that was acceptable. If they let fucking DOCTORS do this at first, they can sure as hell let non-patient-facing roles work from home indefinitely, providing they have an environment and setup that is compliant with patient privacy regulations.

      3. Windchime*

        Yeah this is nuts. I work for a university hospital system and they sent us all home immediately in March 2020. As soon as it was clear this was going to be a thing, they sent home the employees who were not directly involved with patient care.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          Ditto. From March 2020 through the middle of May, I was doing nearly 100% telehealth. One half-day per week on-site for patients who needed to be seen but couldn’t handle telehealth (I see a mostly geriatric population, and maybe about 1/4 don’t have internet at home). Inpatient staffing was skeleton crew, and all the students were furloughed to save PPE.

          There is zero reason why non-clinicians need to put themselves at risk, especially when they wouldn’t give you adequate PPE. Good for you getting out of there!

    2. learnedthehardway*

      That’s horrifying!! I do some consulting work with a hospital, and there is some sensitivity / cultural element of “the doctors and nurses are on site, so other people should be too”, but in fact everyone NOT actually needed on site is working from home and the messaging has been that this is the best way to prevent spread from the hospital to the community. It’s hard to argue that everyone should be on site because the front line staff are, if it means increased community spread.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yes! My agency has some facilities that require staffing, but if you could WFH during the pandemic, you were supposed to.

    3. RedinSC*

      Just WOW.

      I work in a warehouse/office combo. Warehouse work cannot be done remotely, but we took the stance that people who could work from home should. A couple of reasons behind that. If for some reason the whole warehouse got COVID we would need people to come in to help out. AND if COVID spread through the organization, the folks who were at home would be removed from that and still able to continue with the business work. We offer an essential service, so we tried to build in space, as much as possible, to also build in resiliency for the organization should infection make it past our protocols. Fortunately, it didn’t and we were able to be vaccinated early on, as well, which all helped.

      BUt also, sadly, my boss is one of those old school dinosaurs, who really wants people in the office and isn’t being super flexible. We’ve gotten him to agree to 2 days a week remote, but I do worry about keeping staff and being able to hire new employees.

      1. Over It*

        It all sounds so reasonable when you are the one at home. If you are the people in warehouse, it is extraordinarily unbalanced. Why are there lives less important than the people at home? Why did they have to risk their health to keep the business open? Please say that your company at least paid them hazard pay throughout this to make up for the astronomical ask. If they didn’t, all the good intentions in the world are worthless.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yet another employer who doesn’t understand that equal isn’t the same thing as fair.

    5. turquoisecow*

      I work in the corporate office of a supermarket and for a long time we had a similar mentality of “store workers can’t work from home, so office staff can’t either.” And since they’re open on holidays and weekends and during snow storms, we got very few holidays off and rarely closed for snow storms.

      Thankfully my current employer did switch to work from home during the pandemic, and they’re actually considering allowing full-time associates to work from home four days a month, which is a huge step forward. I don’t know if anyone has quit over it but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t pushback. (I work remote but only part time so I don’t have a lot of knowledge of what most people are thinking.)

    6. Anon for this*

      WOW! That’s ridiculous. I work at a medical school attached to a hospital and our office staff still isn’t back to full time in office work (and since my state is one heavily impacted by the delta variant, they won’t be back anytime soon).

      Tangential to the idiocy of your former work, I think if more people knew how short staffed hospitals got/are getting again in some areas, they would take this more seriously. We had research docs that haven’t triaged a patient (or even seen a patient outside of their specialty) in 20+ YEARS going on service for relief in the hospital. I can emphatically tell you that while our Rheum chief is great, I don’t want them working on me in a clinical setting.

    7. Fran Fine*

      Last I checked 70% of my prior non clinical department caught Covid, a way higher rate then even our Covid ward nurses, and one died.

      Good lord…shame on your former employer, smh. It’s a good thing you got out when you did.

    8. MissBaudelaire*

      I work in a hospital, and even though my role was patient facing, I wasn’t direct patient care.

      I had the opposite experience. The people who were patient care pitched. a. fit. that I was there. Why did *I* get to come in and get paid while there were others who were patient care and THEY couldn’t come in? How was that fair?

      The real answer was because I am a contractor and the hospital and my company played Hot Potato with deciding if we should come in our not. I directed each and every complaint to my supervisor. I was a broken record for days. “I don’t know, I don’t have that information, and I don’t know when it will be available. You can call X person and ask them.”

  5. Cosmia*

    I also quit my current job to move to one that’s fully remote. It means I can move away from the expensive capital city where my current role is based, and me and my (also fully remote) partner can move to a much larger house with an office each, somewhere nice in the countryside. My current, inflexible employer has offices in multiple capital cities and they’re bleeding staff, honestly.

  6. Kelly Clinton*

    I am one of these people. Last week my company announced the return to the office and I handed in my resignation that day. I will never again work a job that isn’t 100 percent remote. My coworkers are extroverts who are happy about going back because they say it made some tasks difficult or impossible but I don’t feel the same. I’ll be screening out all jobs during my search that aren’t 100 percent remote. (If I can find one that has minimal video meetings that will be a bonus!)

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      That last bit is really the kicker for me too. I moved to a new position in my same agency but my former boss basically lived in my house, virtually. Every email sent out had to be done by committee. On-camera committee. She told me on my last day that I needed to communicate more. I communicated with her more that I did my live-in partner. Adios.

    2. AllPlayNoWork*

      I enjoy my coworkers, but I am so glad to remain WFH. There were too many people in my office who really treated the office like a social event, and as we were on a cube farm, it was very difficult to focus when folks were chatting all day.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      It’s not that I don’t want to go into the office ever. But my thought is this:
      The office is for meeting, not for actual work.

      You want to have an all hands meeting? Sure. Need to use the facilities or equipment? Meet with clients? Sure.
      Daily work? NOPE.

      1. calonkat*

        Oh this. My work is on the computer and the phone. I never meet face to face with clients and can go days without talking face to face with co-workers either.

        But it was declared that we all had to be in our cubicles every day, no exceptions. I’m only a few years from retirement, but even so, I’d be open to another job that was remote and am looking.

        It’s lovely to be told that my butt in a chair in a cubicle is what they really want from me, not my brain/skills.

  7. Den*

    I missed out on that discussion and would’ve liked to contribute.

    Basically, I’ve been back to full time in the Office five days a week, and been lapsed back to being severely depressed and crushed on a return to reality. Has not been very busy in the office like before, but thats still commuting 2 hours a day and being on a constant alert. Felt more thriving and productive in an isolated environment but upper management is very adamant in bringing all staff back and not making exceptions on the matter.

    Been long burnt out on the job that I’ve been on for many years, but stuck around since I have nothing else of interest to do, health insurance, too cowardly and cautious to move on and more or less used to things. If things get further back to normal and busier, I may just reduce to part time status or resign. No I don’t have a backup plan, but been feeling too mentally drained, down and anxious to even look at other work and just may want to step back for a while to just recover and reset things. Lets see in the coming months.

    1. lilsheba*

      Why can’t employers SEE the effect they are having on people? They truly don’t care about people at all.

      1. James*

        I think this thread answers your question: Because people need different, often contradictory, things. How can you make someone like me and someone like Den happy? If it’s all one way or the other either Den or I are going to have to leave the company.

        Offering flexibility is the best option. Let Den work the way he works best, and let me work the way I work best.

        1. Lunita*

          Yeah, I think you have it right James. I’m sure there are a lot of companies that don’t care and have rigid attitudes, but many do care about employees. It’s just difficult because people have different needs. I find myself wanting to go back and interact with people. I miss my last job where we had a small office, it was casual, and friendly. Now I work for a much larger company that I started at, worked in office one week, and have been remote ever since. I don’t feel very connected to my team and don’t feel like the constant zoom meetings and ice breakers are a substitute for in-person connection. Plus I don’t like my “office” being my dining room desk-we don’t have a separate space and it’s just messy. But I know many of the staff like working from home. I’m actually considering leaving eventually to go somewhere with more people in office. In the other hand, I have more time with my family and less time in the car. So some people like me are ambivalent!

    2. Amaranth*

      I’m sorry you’re struggling. Perhaps a recommendation from your doctor might help? If you haven’t talked to your manager it might be a worthwhile effort, because sometimes there are blanket policy announcements but for valuable long-term employees they still make quiet adjustments.

    3. Gigi F.*

      I’m in the same boat… Except my workplace has had us all (mandatory) back in the office full-time since June 1st. It has been very strenuous for me. The heavy foot traffic, the constant cubicle/water-cooler chatter, the eating-at-desks (I do this myself, but I hate that I have to, and I miss my kitchen), the waste of gasoline, the creaking/squeaking/slamming doors, the throat clearing and all the coughing and sniffling, etc. etc.

      I’ve brought up to my manager already several times about making accommodations (besides, I have an actual hearing condition called misophonia), but my workplace is old-fashioned and insists we work in person – in an open workplace to boot (cubicles).

      The benefits are so good, though. It’s very difficult to leave without something as-good lined up. Maybe we can work through this and retire early.

      I hope you can work on a solution for yourself with your manager.

    1. a tester, not a developer*

      Me too! I had to fight my employer tooth and nail to get a disability accommodation to WFH 1 day a week pre-COVID. Now that I’ve shown that I can do my job 100% remote, and my health has improved so dramatically I’d be willing to fight much much harder to keep working from home. (We have something like a government tribunal you can go to about disability stuff but before COVID pursuing that would have been a Really Big Deal).

    2. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      This is one of the most shameful outcomes of the pandemic: that so many disabled/differently-abled folx could have been accommodated all this time. I’m American and the way things are going are VERY American and I knew we wouldn’t, but we had the opportunity to rethink some things and maybe change some ways and we just…didn’t. Childcare. Schooling. Healthcare/insurance. Nope, almost nothing.

      1. have we met?*

        Agreed, agreed, agreed. We squandered a prime opportunity to rethink everything, including how to make things more fair, and how to better reward the people on the front lines doing the thankless tasks that keep our society rolling.

        1. Autistic AF*

          Fingers crossed that the pendulum is still swaying and it lands somewhere in the middle!

      2. MassMatt*

        Well, it’s true that we could and should have reconfigured things more versus returning to the old way of doing things, but millions more people working remotely and collaborating via virtual meetings etc isn’t nothing. Yes it was accelerating existing trends but it was quite an acceleration. We are probably around 5-6 years ahead of where we would have been without the pandemic. Some employers are pushing for butts in seats but the toothpaste is not going back in the tube.

    3. KuklaRed*

      Yes!! I am disabled as well, and the commute into NYC is very difficult for me. Being able to work from home full time (which I have done for years, even before the pandemic) has been a huge benefit for me. Commuting costs a fortune and adds at least 3 to 4 hours to my day, every day. Being able to stay home means better sleep, better nutrition (more home-cooked meals, less take out), and a happier me.

    4. CaliUKexpat*

      Yes! I have an immune disorder, and spent years unable to work FT. I managed to get a new job with my same employer after we were made redundant. I never would have applied if we were in the office. But no commute, less effort to get ready, not having to plan and pack lunch, being able to nap on lunch break? All have made it possible. Plus if work is slow and it’s a good day, I can do minor chores around the house, which helps me keep on top of home life. It’s made financial stability and the possibility of home ownership actually possible for the first time. Home working has been an absolute miracle for me.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      It’s beneficial to MANY people who are regularly discriminated against because of in-person offices.

  8. Richard Hershberger*

    At the risk of repeating stuff I have already written, I think we are seeing a split between those jobs that genuinely require physical presence, and those that don’t. For all the talk in past years of remote work, this isn’t really something that we as a society have really thought about. Some workers prefer working from home, while others prefer working on site. These workers will naturally divide themselves between jobs that don’t or do require physical presence. At that point, an employer who insists on physical presence for a job that doesn’t really need it will be placing themselves at a disadvantage. When there are more workers than jobs this won’t matter much. Everyone has to eat. But whenever the business cycle swings to more jobs than workers, our recalcitrant employer will be unable either to retain or replace staff. This will be harder and harder to sustain as a business plan, and will seem weirder and weirder, eventually even to oldster CEOs. This dynamic is not really new, but the pandemic brought it to the front of everyone’s brain, accelerating the process.

    1. Ellis*

      Ugh, I have real mixed feelings about this. I’m in an industry where basically the whole industry can be performed remotely (though sometimes with greater difficulty), but I’m a person who really prefers to work in the office most of the time. I don’t want to leave my job/industry–I love the work!–but I am concerned that the trend is towards forcing everyone to do 90%+ WFH as a “perk” to save on operating costs. (I get that this is a perk for some people, but it isn’t to me, and I have a lot of qualms about how much overhead is being pushed onto employees and how much “flexible work” is actually just “work bleeding into your whole life.”)

      1. Designdork*

        I’m in a field that can be pretty much fully remote and my employer decided we would be a fully remote for the foreseeable future. Their reasoning: rent was a high expense and without it they can reinvest that money into the business, most notably the staff. I think everyone got a bonus last year and our travel allowance was switched over to a home office allowance. Our CEO was also really clear about making sure we all set boundaries and there was no expectations to work beyond your normal hours. I thought I was going to hate working from home for the reasons you listed but have come to love it. I really think it depends on leadership and how they follow through, as well as if people have a quiet space to actually do work.

        1. KHB*

          “Rent was a high expense” – yeah, no kidding. My rent is also a high expense, and for me to set up a truly functional home office (as opposed to the semi-functional one I’ve been working in during the pandemic), I’d need to move to a place that’s at least 50% bigger than where I live now. Would that “home office allowance” be enough to cover that?

      2. KHB*

        I’m right there with you on all of this. I’m in a line of work that can be done from anywhere with an internet connection, and I don’t think I’d be happy in a job that had to be done in person. Nevertheless, I definitely prefer to work in the office, and I’d be very unhappy if my employer told me I couldn’t do that anymore (I don’t think they will, but they’re still making up their minds).

      3. MissInTheNo*

        This! I compartmentalize…work at work, home at home. I also kind of enjoy getting up, fixing my hair and putting on my professional wear (clean, steamed, and altered to fit properly) and going to my office.

        1. Nora*

          Same on both counts, I hate waking up in my office every morning and not having a reason to put clean clothes on

      4. Tech worker*

        I’m with you Ellis. Up until recently, I was working for a company that switched to full-time remote permanently and got rid of their offices to save costs. Interestingly enough, just as many people have/are quitting over their company offering no remote flexibility, many people at my company quit over the company offering no in-office flexibility. It doesn’t seem like there are a lot of people who want to return to working in the office five days a week. But it seems like there are many who would like to go in 1-3 days a week, and taking away that option results in unhappy employees just as taking away any remote flexibility does.

      5. Tau*

        I’m with you… and I’m not certain we’re not getting a distorted picture from the comments section here. I’m in one of those “could just be remote” industries and last I checked it was a minority of my coworkers who wanted to continue full-time WFH, with most wanting 1 or 2-3 days per week in the office.

      6. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I like WFH *and* I suspect (hope?) that the real landing is greater flexibility. You’re not the only one who will prefer working in the office, so more companies need to figure out a hybrid approach.

      7. Loredena Frisealach*

        I hear that! I’m one of those who loves working from home – and even I still miss going into the office for broader events because I do enjoy socializing with my coworkers occasionally. That’s the biggest negative for me in moving/changing jobs, as it’s going to be much harder to build connections when fully remote. I know some of my coworkers were anxious to get back into the office!

    2. James*

      “This dynamic is not really new, but the pandemic brought it to the front of everyone’s brain, accelerating the process.”

      That’s part of the key, I think. We were already moving in that direction as a society, it’s just a matter of how fast.

      Unfortunately, haste makes waste. Many companies were forced to go remote, or refused to, without putting serious thought into the issues involved. The IT issues alone are going to be a serious challenge for some companies. As for workers, we’re starting to see the tail end of the honeymoon phase. Sure, there’s a lot to love about working from home! But there’s a lot to dislike as well, and as we become more comfortable with the concept those disadvantages are going to appear more and more.

      I’m also curious about the socio-political impacts of this move. It takes a certain level of income to be able to work from home–you need to have space to work, for example. Maybe in 20 years we’ll see home offices become part of the standard apartment plan, but for many–especially those with roommates–that simply isn’t an option given the way many apartments are designed. Utilities are another issue–working from home increases utility use, though it decreases commuting (and thus gas consumption), and whether that helps or hurts you is going to be something you need to figure out for yourself. Point is, I’m wondering if we’ll see work divided along socio-economic lines, with higher-status people working from home and lower-status people still being required to be onsite.

      Under ordinary conditions these issues would be resolved slowly and in a piece-meal process. The fact that we jumped into this with both feet (by necessity, but still) means that we’re going to have to consider these more or less immediately.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        People with roommates: If we are talking about people living in cities that are otherwise too expensive for their salaries, this is a transitional issue. As they grow confident that they will be able to work remotely, there will be less reason to live in an expensive city.

        1. LQ*

          That assumes the only reason to live in a city is for work. Plenty of people like other things about cities too. Like others who found a new job to not have to deal with a commute pre-pandemic I did too, except I found one in the downtown core so I could walk there. I like city life.
          Or that the housing market is wildly cheap somewhere that people can easily pick up and move (which is expensive) to and live more cheaply.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Sure. Lots of people prefer to live in a city. But lots don’t. Take away those who don’t, and pressure on housing costs in the city automatically ease up. And there is a difference between wanting to live in *a* city and having to live in a particular city for your job.

        2. KHB*

          This really only works for jobs that are truly 100% remote. For those that are 95% remote (i.e., come in once a month for a staff meeting, or whatever), you still don’t have the freedom to live absolutely anywhere.

          Also, a lot of people prefer living in cities for reasons unrelated to the shorter commute to the office. And their roommate arrangement may have been working just fine for them, right up until the moment the employers decided to shoulder employees with the cost of their own work spaces.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            While the 95% job wouldn’t allow you to live literally anywhere, if you only have to make the trip once a month or so, this opens things up vastly. A perfectly reasonable once-a-month trip could well be utterly insane as a daily commute. You could live in a mansion four hours away and rent a hotel room the night before your in-office day.

            1. allathian*

              Absolutely. One of my close coworkers lives in another city that’s more than 3 hours away by inter city train. There’s no way she’d commute more than 6 hours every day, but before the pandemic, she came to our quarterly development team meetings on the employer’s dime, and collected per diem, too. She used to take the early morning train on the day of the development day. Those were usually scheduled to start at 9.30 so she didn’t have to get up before 5 am (my office’s right next door to a train station where all the long distance trains stop). She’d stay overnight in a hotel and the next day she’d schedule meetings with people she worked closely with, and then she’d take the afternoon train home.

              She’s due to retire at the end of the year, but with a bit of luck I’ll be able to see her in person one more time befores she retires.

          2. James*

            I’ve known a lot of people in their 20s that lived with roommates not because they couldn’t afford to live on their own, but because it allowed them to save money. It’s fiscally responsible; why double or triple your housing costs for no reason? It’s also psychologically beneficial for many people. Some people can’t handle living on their own, they need people around.

            Like you said, this arrangement works fantastically–right up to the point where the boss unilaterally states that it no longer will.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, many people live with roommates because they want to, not because they have to. And as long as people are respectful of each others’ spaces and are pretty much on the same page about things like cleaning and overnight guests, it’s a perfectly valid choice. Apart from my sister when we were kids, I’ve only ever had roommates as an intern in Spain. It was a great way to get to know people who weren’t my coworkers. We were also all in our early to mid-20s, and either interns or students, so it made things easier.

          3. KHB*

            Also also, my “roommate” these days is my partner, so the fact that we’re going to go on living together is pretty much baked into the equation. But we have very different jobs: I need quiet so I can concentrate, while he spends much of the day on loud phone calls. If we’re going to both work from home permanently, we need enough space to be out of earshot from one another. Our one-bedroom apartment doesn’t work for that.

            We could afford to move to a bigger place with room for offices for both of us – and we will if we have to – but just like James said in a comment downthread, I really don’t want to. I enjoy having living expenses that are low enough that we don’t really have to worry about money. I took the job that I have with the understanding that my employer would provide me with the the resources – including the work space – that I need to get my work done, and I would be very unhappy if they decided to alter that arrangement.

      2. Sara without an H*

        Taxes will also be a complicating issue. My understanding is that Internal Revenue Service rules make it difficult or impossible to deduct the cost of running a home office.

        Congress, of course, could fix this if they ever again bother to do any legislative work.

        1. Amaranth*

          You currently have to be self-employed to take the home office deduction and if you take the simplified method it maxes at $1500/year – $5/sqft. Essentially if you get a W-2 you can’t deduct a home office.

      3. Teapot Repair Technician*

        Speaking of IT problems, I predict evolving technology will eventually make the WFH debate disappear.

        I dislike WFH because I lack space in my home for a large desk with several large monitors, my internet isn’t reliable, and I like in-person interactions with my coworkers. But it’s just a matter of time before copper-based internet, flat screen monitors and Zoom go the way of dial-up, CRT’s and fax machines.

        If we find ourselves wearing VR headsets all day and mingling with coworkers in virtual space, that will be fine with me. Though I guess a lot of WFH proponents will consider that a step backwards since it will negate the benefit of not having to interact with anyone.

        1. James*

          The problem with VR is that not everyone can use it. I have a friend who has trouble even playing first-person games. It’s an issue akin to motion sickness–her brain gets confused between the visual and tactile input and the result is that after ten minutes she’s too sick to continue.

          1. Ursula*

            This is a huge issue with VR, actually. The number of people who get sick using it is quite high (a bit more than 50%). Of course, there’s probably a difference between using it to sit at a conference table rather than run through a maze shooting monsters, but it may be longer than anyone thinks before VR is widely useable by most people.

          2. Teapot Repair Technician*

            That’s true, but VR of the future will be very different from what we know today. Hopefully it will make the workplace more accessible to people with various disabilities, rather than less.

            Presumably sitting in a virtual office will involve less movement than a video game. Higher resolution and frame rate may also help. And rather than VR, we may settle on something more like enhanced reality, so there won’t be a total disconnect between what we see and what we touch.

            1. James*

              “That’s true, but VR of the future will be very different from what we know today.”

              I’ve seen enough technology rollouts to be HIGHLY skeptical. We can’t even make a program that can reliably reproduce the data on a hard-copy water monitoring form–I’ve had the dubious pleasure of fighting with our recent attempt this morning. As such, I find such predictions to be overly-optimistic.

              Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the possibilities of VR tech. I’ve seen it done with underground storage tanks, for example–it turned something that was insanely risky into something that risked, at most, a $200 piece of equipment, saved us $10k in travel costs, and we were able to impress a client. But using one as a regular part of the job simply isn’t possible now, and I quite frankly don’t believe the promises of big tech companies. They always look at the benefits, but never the costs, of their products (which is fair enough, they’re in the business of selling those products after all).

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’m one of them. I’m limited to video games where I see the back of the head of my character. I’m also affected with screens where someone else is scrolling the display. I had to quit immediately after I’m meeting a couple days ago because I was so motion sick watching somebody else scroll up&down in a spreadsheet on Teams.

          4. iantrovert (they/them)*

            I also can’t use VR–not due to motion sickness, but because my eyes don’t function together as expected by the VR system, due to an old injury. I can compensate for the lack of depth perception while driving by moving my head, but that doesn’t work when the screen moves with me in a VR headset. I’ve tried–I’m a gamer, I’d love for it to work!–but it just ends up triggering migraines for me.

          5. Isabel Archer*

            Seriously? This topic is at least 50 carts in front of the horse the rest of us are discussing

          6. Aitch Arr*

            This is me.

            I can do roller coasters, boats, airplanes fine, but VR/FPS/Imax makes me pukey.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, everyone I know is already trying to get out of having their video on in meetings–no way any of them would be into some sort of virtual office space. That sounds like the basically the worst of all worlds to me…

      4. A Feast of Fools*

        It costs me more to go into the office than it does to work from home. Gasoline, car repair, makeup, facial cleanser, products for styling my hair and putting on makeup, a closet full of business attire, the price of buying lunch when I forgot to bring one (which was often because I was so tired and stretched so thin), grabbing a snack from the cafeteria in the afternoon, stocking my desk with personal items I already have at home (lotion, lip balm, salt, pepper, seasonings, etc).

        Not to mention the hassle of packing in food, changes of clothes (sweater / jacket for the freezing office), change of shoes (can’t go walking at lunch in my business shoes), and then packing it all back out again at the end of the day. Ditto hauling in groceries and drinks every morning so I don’t have to buy them (we don’t have individual or communal fridges).

        My utility usage is pretty much the same as it was when I went into the office. My mom lives with me, so the lights and electronics are on, the HVAC system is set to a seasonally-appropriate comfortable temperature, and my internet bill is the same whether it gets used all day long or not.

        The bonuses to working from home for me are immense and include things like being able to, say, water the lawn between 6:00 PM and 7:30 PM or between 7:30 AM and 9:00 AM, instead of between 8:30 PM and 10:00 PM, when I have to shut the sprinklers off in the dark, dead-tired because I have to get up at 5:00 to be in the office by 8:00 the next morning, only to not get home until 7:30 in the evening. Scrub, rinse, repeat.

        Being able to take care of things like watering the lawn during what would be my commute hours lets me go to bed at a reasonable hour and get good sleep. I used to be sick All. The. Time. and have zero energy to do anything, even the things I *needed* to do. Even after getting the shingles vaccine (2 shots), I used to still get flare-ups because of the physical stress (sleep deprivation) and mental stress (dear gods, I will never get everything done; I’m a failure).

        I don’t think I can live like that again.

        1. Windchime*

          Me either. Up at 4:30 AM so I can be to work by 6 and miss the worst of the traffic. Work until 2:30, fight traffic all the way home. Get home at 4, have a little time for relaxing, dinner, and a shower before going to bed at 8:30 so I can do it all again tomorrow. It’s a frigging rat-race and I don’t ever want to do it again.

        2. Chris*

          Even if my utilities go up (and they didn’t in 2020/2021) the off set cost of commute and clothes still ends up being a plus for me financially. When you talk about TIME though, I am literally saving three hours/day when you include both commute time and the time it takes to “get ready” for work and get out the door. I can skip the get ready part 90% of the time while working from home. The quality of life change has been significant for a lot of reasons, one being that I am able to get a full 8 hours of sleep rather than being pressed to get 6 or 7 at best.

      5. MissBaudelaire*

        We also had to increase our internet package with two people working form home. We were hitting out data cap monthly. So even though we didn’t have to do things like… pay for gas, or parking, or lunches, we did have to pay for increased Internet, mildly increased electric, and making sure we had enough food for lunches at home.

    3. Sheldon Cooper*

      Where would you put jobs that can largely be done remotely, but that really are easier in person? My team works with large spreadsheets and you can do the Teams video chat with screen sharing, but it’s a pain when you’re toggling between two spreadsheets/screens. We managed, but it wasn’t super efficient. It’s so much easier when we’re all in the same physical space and I can look over someone’s shoulder at their two large screens and point. I’d also argue that on-boarding within my team is easier while in the same space.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Where I would put it depends on the dollar value added of working in person. If productivity is sufficiently higher that the employer can pay premium salaries for people to come into the office, then we have our answer. If it isn’t enough higher, then we also have our answer.

        And yes, working from home creates expenses for the employee, but they are nothing like the expense of commuting, and nearly vanish compared with the expense of higher housing costs to make a commute possible. If working from home is an option, companies will have to pay a premium to get people in the office.

        Also, this is a business opportunity for improved collaborative tools. I am not generally big on the Silicon Valley change-the-world talk, but improved collaborative tools is the sort of thing Silicon Valley is actually good at.

        1. Mimi*

          > they are nothing like the expense of commuting

          This isn’t true for everyone. I’m saving $90/month on my transit pass, but but I think additional electricity and the cost of heating the house all day probably even out, if not making wfh more expensive (I don’t have enough before data to really do the math). We’ve definitely been paying more for groceries because of the pandemic, and that’s not an inherent wfh cost, but once there isn’t a pandemic anymore I’ll need to pay for transit trips again, even if it doesn’t come to enough that buying a monthly pass still makes sense.

          If I moved to a low cost-of-living area that would definitely offset the costs, even with dedicated office space, but my job function is likely to require some degree of onsite availability, even if I were working mostly remote.

          1. LizM*

            Our electric bill has gone up significantly to support cooling the house all day every day in the summer. It’s hard to get the specific numbers since our electric company changed how they bill last summer, and we’ve had record-breaking heat this summer, but I’m pretty sure we’re spending more on cooling than I was on commuting pre-pandemic.

            Plus we had to upgrade our internet to cover WFH and zoom kindergarten at the same time.

            1. LizM*

              Also, this assumes the only reason we take on the higher housing costs is because of the commute. I like living in my city. My son’s school is here, my friends are here, my church is here, my life is here. I’m not going to pick up and move just because I no longer have to go into the office every day. So that cost doesn’t go away, if anything, it adds to my expenses, because now I need to either rearrange my entire life by moving somewhere where I can afford a home office, or somehow devote space in my house that was just the right size for our family pre-pandemic to an office.

              1. CatLadyInTraining*

                Well and some people live in high cost areas because the schools are good and it’s safe. We live in a high cost area and people move there due to the good schools, very low crime rate, and family friendly atmosphere.

              2. Chris*

                Agree. I prefer to live in the city. And, honestly, depending on the city, being close isn’t a time benefit when it comes to a commute. I live less than 5 miles from my office and the commute takes still takes an hour if I take transit once you consider walking to the stop, waiting a few mins, etc.

            2. SpaceySteph*

              Interestingly, my cooling cost last summer was not significantly higher than previous years; I used to put the house up to 80 (F) during the workday but then it would chug all afternoon in peak summer to bring the temp back down to a livable 76 by 5pm. Keeping it at 76 all day means it does a more reasonable duty cycle on/off/on/off rather than run constantly for hours at the end of the day. It seems to result in a similar cost and is probably better for my A/C system.

              I actually cannot find a single month for which March 2020-current netted a higher electric bill than 2018-2019, except for last October when I had a plumbing disaster and a week of running industrial dehumidifiers/fans in my living room to dry it out.

        2. Sheldon Cooper*

          That does make sense. It’s also interesting how the cost of commuting, which varies widely, impacts this. My out of pocket commute cost is under $10 (2 gallons of gas), so I don’t factor those into my decision.

          I interviewed during the pandemic (though accepted my current employer’s counter offer), but I had been willing to accept a slightly longer commute since they were open about going back on a hybrid schedule. I don’t seem to be as bothered by it as many.

        3. LQ*

          It’s weird because these things that you are saying as universal absolutes are not at all true. I walk to work. My commute is like…positive money. It’s a little tiny bit of exercise in the morning and afternoon and other than when I was physically unable to do it due to a serious injury I always want to take the walk. Working from home is absolutely more expensive. Just keeping the AC on all day vs not is a huge difference.

          1. KHB*

            I also walk to work – and I live across the street from a Metro station, which allows me to live without a car. If I were to move to a cheaper area to get more space for a home office and offset the cost of the increased utilities, I’d also have to get a car, which would negate all the money I saved and then some.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            Of course it doesn’t apply to everyone. No discussion about this sort of thing can. That should go without saying. We are talking about how things play out on average. Unless your employer can restrict its hiring to people who live within walking distance, your happy state has only modest impact on that average.

            1. ferrina*

              Your original post seemed to say that the invisible hand of the (employee) market would naturally cause employees to gravitate to on-site vs remote jobs based purely on this preference. I think a lot of us read

              an employer who insists on physical presence for a job that doesn’t really need it will be placing themselves at a disadvantage

              “Jobs that can go remote will go remote.”
              Did you mean that employers should be flexible and offer options to attract and retain the greatest number of high quality employees?

          3. James*

            There are other non-financial aspects to it. I can only speak for myself, but I think I’m not a completely isolated case study.

            I like commuting to the office because it gives me time to switch from “home mode” to “work mode”. When I’m at work I’m not worried about whether the laundry is folded, or whether Junior’s dental appointment is going to go well, or if the dogs are fighting (we have large dogs, so when they decide to wrestle it’s hard to ignore!). When I’m home the laptop’s off, and the only way to reach me is by phone. I’m present with my family. Then there’s spousal expectations. If I’m working at an office my spouse can’t say “Please put the food in the oven”. When I’m working from home it’s really easy to do so. And what about the kids?

            Sure, I could learn to operate differently. But I just don’t want to. I don’t want to restructure my brain to work like someone else’s; I don’t want to have these arguments with my wife because someone else finds WFH more convenient; and I DO want to have a physical separation so as to foster a mental separation between these aspects of my life. Am I losing money? Maybe. But not much, and at the end of the day I’m not on Earth to build the biggest bank account balance that I can, regardless of the consequences. I’m allowed to do something that others see as sub-optimal if that’s what I need to protect my mental health.

            1. Polly Math*

              ^This, in spades. WFH for me has been very challenging, and I’ve been fortunate enough to actually have a dedicated office space and not have to sit on the bed balancing a laptop. My husband is retired and the expectations of “make me a sandwich”, “the cat wants to be let out / in”, laundry, minor cleanup, etc. was really wearing on me until we returned to full-time office work on July 1. I’m lucky enough to have a brief commute, but even that short space is necessary to my mental wellbeing.

              1. allathian*

                Sorry, but that’s not a work problem, that’s a relationship problem. If your husband is so out of touch that he can’t let you work without telling you to make him a sandwich, well…

            2. Nella 9*

              Yes! This was the big thing for me. My workload went up significantly during the pandemic and when I was working from home it was like I never left work. We live in a small apartment and the only quiet place for me to work was in the bedroom, so I was working for like 12 hours in my bedroom and going to bed felt like I was sleeping at work. I was so glad to go back in person and while I understand that for many people it made a work/life balance easier, for me it just made my whole life feel like work with no separation.

              1. CatLadyInTraining*

                I know people where both them and their spouse worked from home and they said they kind of got tired of each other…

        4. Yes, I am the Librarian*

          > they are nothing like the expense of commuting

          My husband worked literally 2 miles from our house. Our gas, electric, and water have gone up a fair amount. Much more than the cost of driving a sub-compact 4 miles round-trip a day.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            My husband and I noticed our water bill went way down and I wondered aloud that that seemed odd since we were home more, but he was like “well 2 people showering every day is a lot of water…”
            I guess not everyone took the opportunity of the pandemic to be as filthy as possible like we did.

        5. Koala dreams*

          What about the higher housing costs to make work form home possible? You can work from your bed or kitchen table for a short time, but it’s not sustainable in the long run.

          I’m also not that sure that transportation costs go down that much. As long as you still need a car to go to the grocery store, the hospital and other places, you’ll still have the expenses related to car ownership. Gas costs is not that much compared to the costs of the car itself, any car loans, parking space, insurance and other fixed costs. Obviously, costs are just one argument among many, but it’s one of the less convincing ones.

          1. Amaranth*

            In some cases transpo will go way down if they were using public buses, trains, Handicar, Uber, etc. If you always had groceries delivered, that doesn’t change. Its just really individual.

          2. lysine*

            Eh, this depends on where things are located for you. My work is 30 miles away. I can walk to a grocery store (one is 4 blocks away) or a hospital (or lyft there). If not for my job, I could get rid of my car and do a-ok.

      2. A Feast of Fools*

        Sheldon Cooper – We solved that issue by having multiple Teams video chats / screen sharing open (and sometimes with both of us in the same spreadsheet on Sharepoint).

        So the person I’m teaching has Spreadsheet XYZ open on their computer and is sharing it on my left monitor. I have the same spreadsheet open on my right monitor and I am sharing that screen with them. It actually works better than leaning over someone’s shoulder because the person I’m teaching can learn and do at the same time.

        No need to risk losing some nuance while they walk back to their cube (or me getting frustrated by leaning over their shoulder and trying to talk them through what to click and type without literally taking over their keyboard or really, really invading their personal space to point at a bunch of things on their monitor over and over again).

    4. Mandycake*

      I had a job for which I commuted 1+ hour each way to sit in an office and effectively telecommute. My management was 2-4 time zones behind me but the folks I supported were mostly in my time zone but only a handful were in the same building. The director lived one time zone from hqtrs. and telecommuted 90% of the time but expressly forbid me for work at home. She had me written up when I handle some urgent things at home in between unsuccessfully trying to shovel out from 18 inches snow. The only logical reason for forcing me to be in the office when I wasn’t on travel was that the cost of my space was in her budget.

      I tried not to cheer when she “retired” after making an expensive mistake which exposed new senior management to a very weird business arrangement with a vendor.

    5. Mockingjay*

      I’m in a field that can be partially remote – meaning that 50-75% of each role can be performed remotely, but 25-50% has to be onsite. So there will always be an office/warehouse/lab because we have to be hands-on to build and test the widgets.

      We have a few people that are full-time remote, but they are outliers. I am one, but with the agreement that I have to come in at any time for meetings, and I must travel to work sites throughout the year.

      Also, I think we’re forgetting that some companies are still stuck in leases. Might as well use the space if they’re still paying for it, right? My company leased and renovated badly needed spaces just before COVID hit, and that big beautiful facility is waiting for everyone to come back. (It’s really plush – the workstations are an ergonomic dream.)

    6. MissDisplaced*

      When choosing a career path, I chose a career where the work could be done mostly on a computer from anywhere.
      That didn’t happen overnight. At first, few people had the computer systems that could be taken home, or you needed access to certain equipment onsite to do your job. But nowadays all you need a laptop and good Internet access. I’m neither rich nor privileged. I planned for that over the last 20 or so years knowing that as I got older, I had a job where I could keep working… anytime from anywhere.

  9. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I’m really curious to know how these break down according to population density and to commute.

    I can totally see it as a dealbreaker for somebody who’s got a long slog on the DC Metro, or who has to brave the freeways in LA every day. Or somebody who’s living with 6 roommates and doesn’t have any private space to have a home office.

    But I live in a detached house in the midwest (near Ann Arbor), and my commute is 20 minutes each way. So having a hybrid schedule is attractive – in that it’s an extension of flexible hours and flexible dress code, and it gives me the chance to run a load of laundry while I’m at work, etc. But it wouldn’t be an absolute dealbreaker for me.

    1. Spearmint*

      I would be curious as well. I’m sure it’s a factor, but I think many people still feel that no commute (or 1-2 days of commuting) is *far* superior to even an easy commute.

      I live in a city with notoriously bad traffic, but my commute prior to the pandemic was really easy. It was a 10 minute drive on a route with relatively light traffic. But of course, there’s far more to commuting than the 10 minute drive to work. I had to make sure I got up early enough every single day to shower and put on my business casual clothes. I had to spend 5-10 minutes getting all my things together. I had to make sure I ate breakfast before I left. And once I reached the office, I had to spend 15 minutes walking up to my office and then getting settled in. So in reality, I probably spent almost an hour each day on commuting-related activities that are now freed up, and I also have much more flexibility when it comes to things like when I eat breakfast or if I can occasionally skip a day of showering if I’m not feeling particularly smelly or greasy. So I have almost an hour a day that is now freed up and my mornings are much less stressful and frantic.

      1. CanadianCMA*

        Yes this! I’ve started back in the office 1-2 days a week and I had forgotten how much headspace getting ready to go to work took up! I also have a really short commute (about 7-10 minutes depending on lights and traffic) but I’m not entirely sure I want to be 100% back in the office – hybrid would be my preference.

        1. Liz*

          This is exactly where I fall. My commute is maybe 20-25 minutes, depending, so not horrible. I went back one day last week, for the first time, and i kind of forgot how much time and effort goes into getting things ready, including myself!, to go into the office, vs. washing my face, and throwing on shorts and a tee shirt to walk 10 feet to my dining room table, aka the office. So I’d be happy with a hybrid arrangement too.

        2. ferrina*

          This. Just getting ready to go to the office (instead of “oops, I should brush my hair for my meeting in 5 minutes”) is so draining. I really like seeing my coworkers regularly, but I can only muster enough energy to go in once a week (my employer is letting us choose where we work)

      2. AnonPi*

        Just what I was talking about with a coworker this morning. Yes I have an hour commute each way now, but I need an extra hour to get everything done at home before I leave in the morning, where I’d need about 15-20 mins before I started working from home. So a good 2 hour time suck in the morning, and another hour going home. Did the quick math and I’m losing a month a year due to commuting. Not counting when there’s wrecks and I’m stuck 2+ hours going home (which happens about once a month). A month, that’s just ridiculous.

        And yeah they’re pushing for butt in seats too so no flexibility here, so if something opens up that I like, offers good pay/benefits and lets me work from home at least half time I’m outta here.

      3. Rob aka Mediancat*

        Agreed. My office is literally five minutes from where I live. If I were to go back to working in the office, I would need to get up fifteen minutes earlier, spend more time cleaning up, making my lunch, and making sure the cat had extra water, and then the five minutes going into the office — and at that I’d be starting work 15 minutes later. As it is, I don’t need to make my lunch, I can check on the cat throughout the day, and I don’t need to put on even casual business clothes or spend as much time washing up. Instead, I can mostly relax and wake up until it’s time to flip on my work computer and get processing.

    2. Sheldon Cooper*

      I live near Ann Arbor too, and similarly am excited by the hybrid option. Thankfully, that’s what my employer opted to do.

      Not everyone agrees with me though – some folks have longer drives (closer to an hour), some are enjoying not paying for child care, etc. It feels pretty representative of the larger reactions.

    3. KHB*

      I’d love to see the breakdown according to quality of office space versus home space, too. In the office-office I have a private room dedicated to my work and only my work, whereas at home I don’t have that. So I’m loving coming back into the office (we can choose to come in or not, and it looks like it’ll be that way for a while). But if it were the other way around, I could definitely see myself on Team Work From Home Forever.

      1. Jen Kilmer*

        Absolutely. My partner has a private office with a closable door at home, and an open office at work. A year WFH has reinforced how much better a private office is for him.

      2. Silicon Valley Girl*

        Yeah, & those of us who had hot-desking open offices at the company’s building could have *better* office spaces at home. I was able to convert space in my house to a nicer permanent “office” than my company would give me. And they’re fine, so far, with flexible WFH.

        1. Le Sigh*

          Ugh, yeah. We don’t hotdesk but we did have a very open office plan that was hard on my focus a lot of times. I’m fortunate to have a reasonably decent, quite set up at home that is frankly much better suited to my work style.

      3. KHB*

        …which is to say, if an employer is having trouble persuading people to come back to the office, part of the problem may be that it’s a crappy office.

    4. Aggretsuko*

      I have a 20 minute commute so it’s not that bad that way, but I feel way more rested not having to get up earlier to go to work because I’m a night owl and literally, having that 50 minutes back has been a godsend for me staying awake in the 8 a.m. meetings. And not being complained at for being tired.

    5. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yeah, we bought our house for the location, understanding we would be compromising on space. We did *not* understand that we would have to support two adults WFH and two children distance-learning for an extended time. It sucks. I’m shoved in a corner of my bedroom, my husband is in a corner of the den, my older son gets what used to be the laundry room, and my younger son is in the living room. It was perfect when the adults were going to offices and the kids were going to school.

      If WFH becomes the norm, like it’s some kind of awesome “perk”, I guess I’m going to look into WeWork space or something. Assuming Covid isn’t too bad. I seriously don’t know how I’m going to keep going if/when Covid gets really bad this fall and winter, so we’re all truly stuck at home.

    6. PizzaRat*

      Density kind of gives you the worst of both worlds. We are 5 people (me, spouse, mother-in-law, two kids) in 850 sf, so working from home is a bit of a trial – though better, since we have had the option of in-person school for the kids for the past year. But my commute is also gruesome, with 1:15 each way – on a good day – on trains where in normal times, you are jammed up so close to people that most days you could literally French kiss three strangers without craning your neck.

      You get used to it, and there are other things about living here that are good, but basically: if you’re in a place where real estate is really, really expensive, you have to live far from work AND in a smaller place. We are here because our jobs don’t exist in other parts of the country (also family obligations). If we started to trust this remote work thing was permanent? The whole calculus of expensive cities might change. Ours certainly would. Yes, it would be tough to move elderly parents from the city where they’ve lived their whole lives… but we could have a third bedroom and second bathroom.

    7. JH*

      I live and work in the DC area and use the metro to commute. I will say that the idea of going back next month is really affecting my mental health. Until I started working from home, I had never really thought of how much of my day that my commute takes up. Altogether, it’s about 1 1/2 – 2 hours of my day spent on a train smushed in with a whole lot of other people. Working from home has been nice because I feel like I can work a little later but still have time in the evening to make dinner, hangout with my boyfriend, and relax before starting all over again the next day.

    8. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

      Yes. I’m in a detached house and can walk to work in 20 minutes easily (one reason we bought the house we’re in, the tradeoff was the size of the house). I have an outstanding supervisor, who really went to bat for us and got us a hybrid thru mid October, to be reassessed at that time. We are all in the office two days every week (some people MW, some TuTh, some TuW, some WTh), with a third day in office every other week.

      Personally, I’d like to be just one day a week in the office, for my classes because I hate teaching online with the heat of a million suns. Other than that, remote works fine. Especially since masks are not being required, we are not allowed to insist on masks, and college students are not vaccinated at a sufficient rate and they are going to engage in covid-spreading behavior.

    9. HotSauce*

      Also living in the Midwest & while my commute is also about 20 minutes, I really didn’t miss having to drive into work last winter when we had bad weather.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        I did not at all miss having to drive through the accidents, the ice, the snow, or having to get up at the butt crack of dawn to accommodate all of that in bad weather.

    10. some dude*

      In the past 10 years there has been a concentration of white-collar jobs in metropolitan hubs with a dearth of housing, so people are paying a ton of money in rent and/or doing really long commutes. My mom had a 10 minute drive to work growing up. My commute is an hour each way. And if I want to work at a nearby tech hub, that is more like 2 hours each way. In hellacious traffic. It’s a major bummer, and the main reason why I am less stoked to go in the office full time.

  10. R*

    I feel incredibly lucky —-one of the things that’s keeping me at my job is a flexible remote policy (although there are rumblings that it may end in September, which I do not love). Right now I’m in office 2 days a week, and at home for three. I can pick which days and spend more in office if I want, although we’re still hotdesking, which definitely reduces the appeal of going there. Not commenting : magic

  11. LF*

    Moved from a no-flexibility office to a flexible office not too long ago. A big part of the issue for me personally was the condescension with which my company handled WFH. Spoke down to us about our ability to work remote, belittled our concerns about returning to the office in 2020, shamed us for expressing a desire for flexibility. If they were flatter “We prefer in office and that’s what we’ll do” I might have been more understanding, but the attempts at borderline gaslighting about us being ridiculous for not wanting to be in and unmasked ASAP really turned me off.

    1. Andrea*

      Yes! Just say “even though our overall efficiency increased, we think of you as our property from 8-5 and want you where we can see you”. Don’t make up stuff about “collaboration”. My teams are in various continents and time zones. I don’t need to come into the office and search for a “collaboration room” (because we have an open office, and we’re not allowed to have meetings at our desk) to collaborate with them; I can do that in my kitchen.

  12. Spearmint*

    It’s so satisfying that we’re in a moment where (in many fields) employees finally have some bargaining power and choices in employment, instead of the deck being stacked in employers’ favor.

    I wonder if employers that won’t allow remote work and flexibility, even if they have good reasons for it, will have to start offering higher salaries compared to similar remote jobs. In a world where many jobs are fully or partly remote, the costs of in-person work–commuting, business clothes, the lack of flexibility–will be much more salient to job seekers than in the past, and if they’re aren’t compensated for it they’ll look elsewhere. I know when I look for my next job, I’ll be factoring all that in when I calculate the “real” salary being offered by a potential employer.

    1. some dude*

      The reverse may soon be true as well – we’ll let you work remote, but won’t pay San Francisco/New York wages for the honor.

      1. Chris*

        My former employer basically did this. They decided to reduce overhead by making the San Francisco office all remote. It effectively made candidates from other parts of California more attractive because there was both a wider pool of qualified candidates and they weren’t all negotiating for SF salaries.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I have saved so much money because of fulltime WFH.
      Yes, there is the Internet, but we had that anyway before because of TV streaming so it’s not like that was some extra expense.

  13. Remotelife*

    I put in my two week notice at a job I love, am good at, and it was a difficult decision but they insisted we need to go back to the office three days a week with no flexibility on the days. After over a year of proving I’m so much more productive and efficient working remotely, I’m not about office life anymore. I was offered to jobs. Both with higher pay, unlimited PTO, and fully remote. Thanks, Allison for all your advice about negotiating. I successfully negotiated $7k more and just with salary, I’m making $21k more! I’m still in shock because I never imagined this would be a possibility. So thankful!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      After an extended period of proving I’m so much more productive and efficient working remotely, I’m not about office life anymore.

      Story of my life, too; congratulations!

    2. RJ*

      That is terrific! Congratulations on standing your ground and good luck with the new job!!

  14. LadyProg*

    “I think if companies are seeing mass resignations that would have been avoidable if they had made themselves a good place to work.”

    Sooooo much this, yes! Always true but recently even more. I work for an amazing company that was already flexible and has been even more now, and I can’t express into words how happy I am to be working for them. Treat your people well and they’ll stay, there’s no magic!!

    1. Someone*

      I don’t think it’ll look like mass resignations though. For companies that aren’t flexible enough, I expect most people will just quietly job hunt over the next few months and leave. Lots of people cannot afford to quit without something else lined up. Not all of them will tell their company that the inflexible WFH policy is why they were looking in the first place. More folks will ask about the company’s WFH policies during interviews and fewer folks will accept offers. They also may not explicitly say WFH policies is why they declined the offer.

  15. Super Duper Anon*

    I love how my company is handling things. We are a global company, teams are already scattered around locations, and there was already a strong online meeting, work from where you are mentality and people already fully remote. Now have three different categories (in office the majority of the time, flex, and fully remote). The category still has flexibility built in, I am going to be in office because that is what I prefer, but I still can work from home as needed. The category just defines who can keep their current seat in a building and who has to give them up based on capacity and future hires. Also, it is up to each person to define their own preference, it is not forced on us by a manager.

    1. ferrina*

      I love this. My company is doing something similar. It so great to have options, and necessary to keep the staff!
      My pre-Covid team was all based in the same city; a year and a half later, we’re in five different areas and four different time zones. If we had to all be back in the same office, most of the team could find somewhere else to work very quickly.

  16. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I’m conflicted on this. On one hand, the amount of time and money I realized I’d been losing by commuting to the office every day is mindblowing. Never thought of it when daily commute was the natural order of things, but when the savings and the extra time started adding up once we became remote, wow. (FTR I had a 30-minute, 20-mile commute with no traffic. An aging car that I would’ve needed to replace soon if I hadn’t stopped commuting, plus the gas and the repairs/maintenance on it. Business casual dress code when we first started, but eventually jeans were allowed every day. But… I’ve been living in athletic clothes for the last year and a half, and don’t even remember what it means to have “work clothes” as your regular expense item. I did spend a bit on home office setup and furniture though, but they were one-time expenses.) On the other hand, I have no idea how I’d navigate work relationships and office politics as a new hire in a remote environment. How do I build rapport with coworkers I’ve never seen? Whom to trust, whom to be on the lookout for, who’s reliable and who isn’t, etc. I don’t know how our new hires do that. And, this may sound like a minor issue, but I forged many close friendships at work – and I am someone who does not like to socialize at work – these friendships just happened while we worked together and got things done. Cannot imagine being able to do that in a remote setting.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Navigating a new job: This is a legitimate concern, but one that I suspect will take care of itself. My kids (11 and 13) are entirely comfortable with virtual socializing. The shutdown was merely a blip in their social lives. As they enter the workforce my guess is that learning a workplace virtually will seem unremarkable.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Hmm, I meant navigating more in the sense of “here’s the guy who’ll throw you under the bus the first chance he gets. Be careful.” Not in the sense of knowing how to talk to someone in an IM chat. I’m hoping we all know that. In the office politics kind of sense. There are things that we learn about each other that I don’t know if they can be learned virtually. Then again, maybe in a virtual workplace, people won’t get as many chances to throw teammates under the bus as they would in person.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Yeah, but you can do that virtually, as well. I have been on the internet since usenet days. There are lots of people who I have a pretty strong sense of whether or not I can trust, whom I have never met in real life.

      2. anon e mouse*

        I mean, sure. But I’m in my mid-30s, I have probably 30 years of work left, at least. I have been Extremely Online since long before that concept as we currently know it existed, have dated online, made friends online, met my wife online, etc. And still! I am currently onboarding remotely, and this is not going as smoothly as I would have anticipated. I think it’s fine to admit that remote work can actually have real pitfalls we need to be aware of, and still think that various levels of remote work (including 100%) and flexible work policies are vastly preferable to the old way of doing things.

    2. Mimi*

      I started a new job at the end of last year, and the virtual onboarding is ROUGH. I feel like I’m getting a decent sense of the coworkers on my immediate team, in terms of who’s good at what, who’s responsive, etc — but I don’t _know_ them at all. Everyone was tired of zoom happy hour by the time I started, so I’ve been gleaning information about how people react from work meetings (and my team is really focused and keeps meetings short, which is great… but it means we mostly only talk about work in meetings, and do so succinctly).

      And for people outside my team? I’ve had casual chats with a few people, but I haven’t made work friends the way I’m accustomed to doing at other jobs. Someone says “Go ask Data about that” and I have to look them up in the address book, because I still don’t have the foggiest idea who’s on Data, or who’s the best person to reach out to.

      1. Isabel Archer*

        Oh Mimi, I’m in your same boat. Started a new job last September, fully remote. 10 months in I still feel so adrift. I’m in my 50’s, so hardly new to acclimating to a new job, but doing it all from my living room is legitimately challenging.

      2. Chris*

        Me too. I started a new job in May and I feel like it is really hard to get to know people, understand who makes decisions and how, figure out the culture; etc. Everyone has been awesome, but I’m definitely missing the way casual interactions build rapport. That said, I feel like it’ll take a little extra time, but ultimately I’d rather WFH more than not.

    3. LQ*

      My very first post-college white collar job my boss said to me so many times, “Hey, listen to how I handle this, you’re doing the next one.” Before getting on some kind of a call or grabbing me to sit quietly in a meeting. It’s something I wonder about. And the sort of …office workplace ephemera of how does my coworker who gets along well with my boss talk to him when he stops by the coworker’s cube vs how does the coworker who is always failing on projects talk to the boss. Or overhearing someone talk about an upcoming project that I’d like to be a part of and finding a way to worm my way into seeing if I could be the person from our team to work it. Or listening to what people say after the boss leaves.

      It’s so much harder to do those remotely. The overheard stuff especially. I know I learned a lot about white-collar jobs and how they work by eavesdropping. I didn’t have parents in white-collar jobs to eavesdrop on so I’m glad I got to have it. I don’t know how to give it to other folks.

      I know in a perfect world all the rules would be written explicitly forever and for everyone and nothing would ever be subtle or learned but I worry that folks are going to miss out on some really critical lessons. I worry about what the next critical lesson I’m missing is.

    4. MissInTheNo*

      Sooo much of communication is nonverbal. Of course, it’s usually the nonverbal stuff that gets under my skin lol

      1. The New Wanderer*

        It’s a double edged sword, for sure. I lose some nuance, the ability to exchange glances with someone, and be aware when someone’s preparing to speak/about to be done speaking, and catch or make side comments. However, I’ve found that just being on voice-only meetings has been really helpful because I’m not spending energy policing my appearance, performing alertness and interest, and not being distracted by what other people in the room are doing.

        Most of my colleagues are in other parts of the country/world so I wasn’t (and won’t be) seeing them day to day anyway. I’ve built up some strong professional connections remotely that are at least as solid as what I could have done working in-person with these same people. And those side comments? We IM directly with each other in big group meetings fairly often so there is that sense of shared experience even if it happens over text rather than in whispers.

    5. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      I think that picking up on office politics is doable in a remote setting, but it’s also very dependent on company culture and the ability/willingness of your immediate manager to facilitate those relationships. I started my job as soon we went fully remote and it hasn’t been terrible. A lot of that is owing to being in a department that works closely with a lot of other departments, as well as being part of a large team where a lot of people have organizational history and different perspectives. What’s really helped is that my manager fully trusts me to develop cross-departmental relationships and gives me a lot of opportunities to do so.

      OTOH, I’m spending a lot of time dealing with a new hire in another department who doesn’t have peers and who is working for a manager who’s new to the organization themselves. This new hire doesn’t know who does what in the organization and doesn’t know who to trust, so working with them honestly feels like walking through a minefield. Without getting into details, it’s the kind of thing that risks becoming dangerous to my department and I can’t imagine that things would play out this way if we weren’t remote. The opportunities for informal interactions outside of possibly-monitored MS Teams as well as being able to see how people react to each other would help shed a lot of light on the landscape of organizational relationships.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I find it interesting how many regulars on this forum worry about forming a rapport with people they have never seen in person. None of us have met Alison, but we know to ask about her cats.
      I have some definite impressions of so many of you–who will have a good legal perspective on a problem, who can offer support before a disability discussion, who is able to lighten my mood when I’m squeaking through a stress week,
      And me, well I’m the one who looks sideways at a problem to check our logic and brings up a contrarian point of view just to get others thinking.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Fair point, but our livelihoods do not depend on what kind of person Alison is, and whether she likes being asked about cats.

        I will admit I might be overly cautious. I got stabbed in the back pretty hard a couple of times early in my career. Around the time of the second backstabbing, I got my hands on the (three at the time) aSoIaF books (now known as the GoT) and, from there on out, 90% of what I knew about navigating work in a corporate office, I learned from those books. Office politics is no joke. I had two young children at the time, three people on my health insurance, a mortgage etc and could absolutely not afford to lose my job, so I really worked on my self-preservation tactics. However that was long ago and hopefully the office environments overall have become less toxic than the ones I had the bad luck to run into early on.

    7. ferrina*

      You can do it! I’ve been managing a remote team for 5 years, and you can absolutely form relationships and suss out politics. But it’s a different strategy for what you do in person.

      First trick is learning to socialize remotely. You probably started naturally doing this with people you already knew when you had to go remote, but it’s the same thing with new people. Leave extra meeting time to just chat. Open up about yourself a little bit (even small things about how annoying all the poison ivy is) and most people will share back. When you are remotely onboarding, you can set up coffee with a lot of different people. Most people are so happy to just chat and get to know the new person. You will probably feel awkward, but if you can push past that, it’s very rewarding. I’ve had more people be happy I took the initiative so they didn’t have to!

      Learning politics is a little trickier, since you can’t actually see people avoiding That Guy. You’ll quickly learn who is reliable by who follows through on what they say. But the person that talks a good game but back-stabs can be hard to spot for a couple months. As a new person, intentionally talk to a lot of people so you get a lot of perspectives (and so you aren’t associated as friends with any one person). Ask similar questions of multiple people to get a wide array of answers (and if they are all the same, there you go).
      One of my favorite tricks is to invite a bunch of people to coffee in the first few weeks. Anyone who I might work with is likely to get an invite. I introduce myself, my role and ask “What can I, in my role, do to make your life easier when we work together? And what can I do that would make you hate me?” That gives me a lot of information about what this person likes/doesn’t like and how reasonable they might be (or not be).
      Another one of my favorite tricks is “Oh, I met So-and-So yesterday.” and watch what the person on the other end of the camera does. It’s amazing how they can give Watch Out signals or enthusiastically endorse someone.

      In the end, if you are scrupulously professional and friendly with everyone equally and deliver high quality work, it’s going to be your best defense against jerks and will also win you a lot of friends and allies.

  17. Calliope*

    What I’ve been telling the other partners at my (small-ish) law firm is that I don’t expect most people to quit if they’re not given flexibility. What I expect is that it’ll be a factor in their decision about whether to job hunt and how long to stay.

  18. Kaden Lee*

    I haven’t seen it in my company, but my fiance works for the state and his agency has seen roughly 1/3 of the employees retire rather than return to the office with more threatening to follow.

    1. ferrina*

      Yep. I know someone that is about to do this that works in city government. The commute is just too much.

    2. SNN*

      This is me – I left local government during the pandemic (for a private sector, fully remote job that paid more!) because I knew they would make us go back to the office FT and I just wasn’t up for it anymore. So far it’s worked out great, so glad I did it.

  19. Liz*

    I’m still not entirely sure how things will work with my company, but for a couple of weeks now, we’ve been on a “gradual reopening” i.e. one day a week, then two next months, and then after Labor Day, “return to normal” whatever that may be.

    That being said, pre-pandemic, my company was open to WFH; usually one day a week, although I was told company policy was two days, but am not 100% sure about that. Before the poo hit the fan, and we all went home, I despised WFH. I live in an apt, no dedicated space for working, and not a great setup. I’ve since gotten a few things to make my work go more smoothly, although I work from my DR table. My company too feels WFH, as long as general company policies are followed, is up to each dept. and supervisor. So I’m hoping to be able to WFH at least 2 days a week. but don’t know if I will have to coordinate with my immediate boss, if at least one of us needs to be in every day, etc. But for me, ideally, I need to get back in, although I don’t want to do it 5 days a week, and think that it will work out how I want.

  20. Anonymars*

    I feel like a leper whenever I pop into conversations to say this but I really miss working with people in person. I just find working from home and having all my interaction be over Zoom super demotivating. I feel isolated and aimless and that makes me not want to do any work at all. I work in PR/communications so maybe it’s because so much of my job is about talking to people and helping people talk to others.

    I’m actively job hunting but I’ve stayed away from applying to fully remote jobs. I need a commute (preferably not car-based, though) to be able to leave work at work.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Look for jobs that actually require physical presence. That way not only you, but your coworkers will be on site. Jobs that don’t really need it, but the boss insists, with be in constant tension.

    2. mcfizzle*

      Same! I don’t think my team is nearly as effective remotely, but we have a ton of collaboration, which just isn’t the same as the organic conversations that come up (and people can listen in on). That being said, I do see where there are a LOT of advantages to working from home. I’d love to see how employees going across state lines would work (or not), but otherwise, at least for me, I really prefer being in the office / around people.

      1. Anonymars*

        Thank you for the solidarity! I’m glad to know I’m not alone. When I read all of the comments from people saying “Remote work is great let’s do it forever!” I just feel like I must be doing something wrong, or that I’m a bad employee for not being able to figure out how to excel at working remotely. That on top of everything else has been really horrible for my mental health. Like, I thought I was an A+ employee! But these past 16 months I’ve been a solid C.

    3. Spearmint*

      I’d probably hate remote work too if I had such a people-oriented job. I love work from home in part because most of my job is spreadsheets and email whether I’m in person or remote, but I have noticed I like it much less on the occasional days where I have 3 or 4 meetings on my schedule.

      1. Anonymars*

        Yeah I think if my job was less focused on strategy, people, and face-to-face interaction I would hate remote work less. It’s a lot harder to brainstorm or whiteboard a strategy over Zoom. Yes, it’s technically doable, but it’s far worse than doing it in person.

        If my job was more technical — focused on design, layout, data, or editing — anything that requires longer blocks of more focused work, I don’t think I’d mind being remote. But spending 7 hours talking to people through screens sucks.

    4. LF*

      I’m curious if things will clash as re-entries start up. My position works remotely because I talk to people real-time in the course of my job maybe once or twice a week. Even in office, it’s mostly emails and IMs. So I’ve wondered this, but won’t see it play out in my office regardless:

      For someone like you, will you still feel like you enjoy the collaborative work if the people you’re with palpably dislike being there? Seems like most employees intend to not be shy about making their preferences known and I’ve even seen some commenters talk like they intend to continue boundaries – don’t just stop into my cube and interrupt me, IM me first even in office, etc. etc. I think if I were like you and worked in / preferred the highly in-person, collaborative environment, I’d still be really demotivated in-office when most others don’t want to be there. Are you worried about that?

      Genuinely curious! This great cultural shift is really intriguing to me on all levels.

      1. Anonymars*

        “Will you still feel like you enjoy the collaborative work if the people you’re with palpably dislike being there?”

        I think there’s a difference in the employees who are getting their jobs done successfully remotely, and the employees who were lagging pre-pandemic who got even less productive during remote work and but want to keep working remotely. Several people on my team left the state during the pandemic and will continue being remote full time. But while I’ll miss seeing their faces, they’ve continued to be high performers and I’m not worried about them.

        However there are a few people on my team who weren’t great at communication and productivity before the pandemic who’ve gotten worse. I think those people, frankly, already disliked working for our company and disliked their jobs but are skating by because our boss provides little accountability. Obviously I’m identifying a management issue, rather than a “remote work” issue but I think remote work can exacerbate the dynamic. So frankly for these low-performers I’d rather they come to the office where they have to interact with other people in the organization, rather than ignore their emails and Slack DMs.

        At the end of the day, I think the reasons I’m feeling isolated and demotivated run deeper than just the fact that I’m working remotely. It’s that no one on my team, other than the too-peppy intern, really seems to want to be working there or to want to collaborate on anything at all. (Even the high performers are grouchy, they just get their jobs done.) The fact that we’re all remote just seems to be an excuse.

        1. allathian*

          You don’t have a WFH problem, but a management and accountability problem. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about any job, especially one that requires a lot of collaboration, if getting what you need from your coworkers feels like trying to get blood from a stone.

          Have you considered looking elsewhere?

    5. starsaphire*

      Anonymars, you’re not a leper, I promise!

      I’m really torn over the whole thing, because I loooove the two hours of extra sleep in the morning and being able to stay up past 9pm and working in jammies and…

      But I also miss the people and the smiles and the in-jokes and the cubicle decorations and the awesome cafeteria staff and the impromptu lunch outings and…

      I’m actually relieved to hear that my company is going back eventually, and that we’re adopting not one but two tiers of flex staffing (X days a week remote, Y days in-office, managers can adjust as needed).

      So I guess that makes me a total fence-sitter! :D

    6. OyHiOh*

      I like my people too! Although about 90% of my job *could* be remote if forced to (and I did when I needed to respond to a potential COVID exposure last fall), it’s a lot more pleasant to go to the office. But, I have a private office, and I like my boss, both of which make a big difference.

      The rest of our staff are regional reps who work remote from the communities they live in. They’re ok, but I think I would feel different about the office if I had to see them every day.

    7. Liz*

      Don’t. I am kind of the same way. I adjusted to WFH because I had no choice. And while i don’t want to go back 5 days, I’d be perfectly happy going in 2-3 (i don’t have a bad commute at all) and WFH 2-3, depending on what I’m allowed to do. I live alone so being in my apt. day in and day out, and every night is draning, and lonely. I think for me, a hybrid approach would make me the happiest.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      I think there will always need to be some people who want to work in the office – for one thing, those of us who want to work from home are going to pop in to see you all occasionally, so it will be nice if someone is there!

    9. Coenobita*

      I feel isolated and aimless and that makes me not want to do any work at all.

      You’re not alone! There is no actual reason why my job can’t be remote, but I’ve been fantasizing about quitting my day job and just doing my “fun money” side gig full-time… sure, I’d get less than 1/3 my current income but at least I would interact with human beings every day!

    10. Violet Fox*

      I so badly need the separation of physical place between work and home, and so much of my job is so much *faster* if I can just have a conversation with someone especially since I need to figure out if what they are asking me is really what they should be asking me v. what they actually need to do their job.

      It also makes it so much harder to build longer-term working relationships with people without seeing them in person. I’ve had to deal with a few new people who, over email just sounded like they didn’t see me as a real person in less then friendly ways.

      As I said elsewhere I’m also just so exhausted from the last year, but I’m one of those people who effectively was only remote for two weeks. Granted I did work around 150 hours over the course of those two weeks.

      I really hope we move back to more in-person meetings and fewer meetings because I have a real hard time with Zoom, and it is way too easy to call a Zoom meeting so everyone is ending up over-meetinged.

    11. Over It*

      This is a 100% valid position to have! Different people have different needs, and while the commentariat on this site skews pro-WFH, your opinion is still valid. I have worked fully in person, fully remote and hybrid at different points during the pandemic. While I am anxious about Delta given my office’s lax masking policies, I’ve realized that I don’t ever want a fully remote job during non-plague times. I hope I’ll be allowed to go back to fully remote temporarily if my area experiences a COVID surge since I’m definitely not essential in my current job. But long-term I know I wouldn’t do well in a job where I’m spending more than 2 days per week at home. Neither my home nor my brain are set up for that.

    12. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

      I completely understand and don’t think you’re weird or despicable for feeling this way. I’d love to be almost completely remote (right now I teach and that’s so much better in person) but I do enjoy and value the interaction with my in-office colleagues.

      I hope you can find a job that works for you!

    13. Koala dreams*

      You’re not alone! There was a thread about looking forward to going back to work in person a while back. Obviously on a thread about remote work, a lot of the people who like remote work are going to comment. The thing is, they are not a representative sample.

      Personally, I find virtual conversations like Zoom the worst of both worlds. It’s just so exhausting.

      1. KHB*

        Interestingly, the thread that was the basis for the Slate article didn’t bias one point of view over the other: Alison asked “If you’ve been remote, would you consider leaving if your office required you to return? Or the opposite — if you’ve disliked working from home, would you consider leaving if that became permanent?” and plenty of people commented on both sides. But for the article, she chose to focus on the people who want to work from home. Anonymars’s feeling of being a “leper” isn’t coming out of nowhere.

        From what I’ve seen, a lot of the conversation is playing out this way. There are so many articles talking about how everyone wants to work from home now, so if employers want to be good employers, they need to let their employees all work from home, which is what they want. But really, employers who want to be good employers should be listening to all their employees and trying to come up with an arrangement that works for everybody.

        1. Koala dreams*

          That’s the media logic, isn’t it? People working from the office, full-time or part-time, isn’t considered news in the way previously in-person workplaces switching to remote work is. And remote work isn’t even a new thing, if you think about it. If employers base their world view on trends in media, they are going to miss a lot of what’s happening.

          1. KHB*

            That’s a good point – it’s like “dog bites man” stories versus “man bites dog” stories.

    14. crookedfinger*

      I feel the same way about WFH. People keep talking about how great it is for introverts, but I don’t agree. I feel way more isolated, bored, and aimless this way. Zoom meetings help a little, but everyone’s gotten burned out on them by now.

      I’m slightly torn, though, as I *really* love having no commute. I’m not looking forward to having to spend 2 hours per day on a train again.

    15. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      We have the ability to instant chat or video chat thru Teams at my job, as well as thru emails. I’ve found that since WFH started, we tend to reach out more to coworkers thru those mediums. Like someone sends Work Email about Stuff and asks “how was your weekend?” on the last line. Or IM chats being way less formal then they used to be. I can tell how bored my boss is by if I get a video chat or an IM when I send him a question. People who barely spoke to me in office now communicate more. Out of 7 people on my team. 1 chose in office, boss has to go in at least once a week for part of the day-sometimes more, I only have to go in once or twice a month. 1 coworker had internet connectivity issues and went from WFH to back to office. Pretty universally everyone on our team likes WFH (coworker with connectivity issues wishes her area had better internet) except the one who stayed in office and she likes the office better with most of us gone most of the time.

      1. Anonymars*

        I’m jealous! I wish this is how my team worked, but everyone seems to have turtled and is very anti-video chat (and anti-chat in general). What you’ve described sounds like pretty much the ideal remote work scenario.

    16. Nora*

      Me too! I’m so much unhappier and worse at my job while working from home, even though my work technically does not require being in-person.

    17. Tau*

      Not just you – WFH has been miserable. And I’m a software developer, which is one of the jobs that usually gets tagged as definitely full-time remote suitable. But I need people around me and I need that strict physical work/free time separation.

    18. some dude*

      You’re not wrong. I feel the same sometimes. And there is no way our team is as efficient remotely. We’ve done great, and we can certainly work remotely, but we work better when we have time together. I think a day or two in the office together a week or every other week at the very least. I miss the energy of other people. I miss being around people not wearing workout clothes.

    19. PersephoneUnderground*

      Right there with you- theoretically my job can be done totally remote, and we’ve done fine through the pandemic. But it’s not the same. I miss the 3-dimensional people (to quote a coworker)! Not to mention my husband and I can’t continue to both work remote in our one bedroom apartment indefinitely, it would be a serious problem. We’d have to get a bigger place for that to be viable, and that’s a significant expense. I’m lightly job hunting right now and one place is fully remote, and I’m worried about how I could pull that off or if the raise is enough to cover the cost of a bigger place, not to mention the mental health strain on me of not having a separate workplace.

      1. Some dude*

        This is the other factor – housing prices in my area have skyrocketed as professionals seek larger homes so they have space for a home office. Not everyone can afford to do that. We are fortunate to have a space to work from now, but even so I am at our kitchen table, which is less than ideal. In my twenties I lived with five other people – would I have been working from home in my tiny messy bedroom while four other roommates hogged the wi-fi?

  21. HA2*

    Add me to that list. I’ve made the decision that I’m moving to a different part of the country, away from where most of my industry has offices.

    I never minded the commute (because I had a short one) or in person work… but I realized I don’t have to let job availability dictate where I live.

  22. Betsy Bobbins*

    The main deal breaker for me is the commute time and expense. Pre-pandemic I was paying $250 to park at my office and $200 for tolls monthly. If I include what my time is worth and for 90 minutes per day of commuting and subtract that from my salary I’m losing a big chunk of it. Now also consider my home is my biggest expense and pre-pandemic I spent fewer hours awake there than I did in the office: It makes sense for me to work from home where I am productive, can get the most out of my investment, and am overall much happier. While I do miss working with colleagues the benefit does not outweigh my previous expenses and yes, I’d rather quit than go back.

  23. Wine Not Whine*

    If I had still been at OldJob when they went back to 100% in-office IN APRIL (for no good reason whatsoever), I very likely would have been job-hunting hard and fast.

    NewJob hasn’t yet released the details of its hybrid plan that will come into effect in September, but even going hybrid is a major shift in the company’s culture.

    I’ve been happy with 100% remote but will be fine with a reasonable hybrid; the rest of the job (pay, duties, benefits, overall culture) is a good enough fit for me that I’ll wait and see how it shakes out before looking at next steps.

    1. allathian*

      Count me in here. I’ve been happy enough at 100% remote, but honestly I don’t mind going back to the office one or two days a week after my vacation (I got my second dose of vaccine last week). We were hybrid before the pandemic and we’ll be hybrid again, with individual employees given a lot of input into how much they can WFH. The way management is looking at WFH has changed a lot, though. It used to be a perk that an individual manager could refuse to grant for butts-in-seats reasons. Now there has to be a reason to deny someone the right to WFH, either because of poor performance, or because the job can’t be done remotely, like sorting and delivering mail, digitizing our archive, etc.

  24. Anon for this*

    I’m ambivalent towards working from home. Where I work now, there are definite benefits to working on site, that as a remote employee, I don’t get to enjoy. On the other hand, we’ve gone through such massive growth in the last year, if we were all required to return on site, my department, which often has meetings about confidential topics, wouldn’t have a secure meeting area. In addition, the workload has increased so much that if I had to deal with commuting on top of the stress, I’d probably start frantically job hunting to get out as soon as possible. It’s not quite enough to quit over, but it is the tiny hair that’s keeping my job manageable.

  25. RunShaker*

    I never thought I would love WFH. My department is closing & if I want to stay with my company, I’ll have to apply for new position(s). My management is also toxic & they pick weird things to micromanage us on, it changes every few weeks. WFH has helped me to manage my mental health better & deal with craziness. I’m thankful I have a home that I was able to set up an office (lost guest room but COVID). I’ve learned & got creative to keep in contact with my coworkers which has helped as well. I’m hoping when I move to new position, I’ll be fully remote but I’ll accept hybrid as well. WFH is allowing me to get my butt in gear & per doctor, I’m out walking in the morning before work & using my lunch hour to swim or do cross fit class. If I’m in the office, I would have to do this after work which just makes my day even longer & I’m less likely to do needed exercise.

  26. Introvert girl*

    For older millennials like myself it hasn’t been just the pandemic, it’s the second economic crisis in our work life, a pandemic that forced massive flexibility on our sides which has shown me and my friends just how resilient we actually are. It also showed how much of a negative effect the ego’s of certain CEO’s and managers have on our lives. We’re no longer willing to accept having to risk our health, paying for gas and losing 2-3 hours of our day just because someone wants to watch his employees so they could feel powerful. It’s giving us the same feeling as forcing women to wear dresses and heels at work. The whole pyramid scheme of work hard, do what you’re told, you’ll get there has fallen completely to pieces. We know what we’re worth and we want our contracts to be an exchange between partners on equal footing: I’ll give you excellent work thanks to my skills and you pay an adequate salary. If my job doesn’t need for me to sit in front of you in an open space, then I don’t see the need to do that. For me, working in an open space office setting is kinda like being an animal in a zoo: too stressed and unhappy to function normally. And as a woman, working from home, makes me feel valued for what I contribute, not how I look. It has empowered me.

  27. MsSolo (UK)*

    I’m pretty happy with our hybrid model (and how our oprg has handled covid in general). One thing that does occur to me, with multiple people talking about moving to the country, is the impact of a lot of remote workers on rural areas. There was an article on the BBC last week about a family moving to Scarborough because they can work remote, which is a lovely seaside town that’s also massively deprived because historically the only work available is seasonal tourism, so most people have variable incomes and young people have had to move away for steady work.

    On the one hand, great, people won’t have to move for work and hopefully the area will get a long term economic boost. On the other, house prices are already shooting up, out of locals’ reach, because of people moving out there, and the infrastructure can’t keep up. I’ve got family in Cornwall who are seeing the same thing – rental properties have gone mad (people letting out rooms in airbnb because everyone’s willing to pay a premium not to go abroad at the moment isn’t helping) but there isn’t the broadband infrastructure available to support multiple homeworkers in a lot of the villages, and the one small hospital for the whole county is struggling to meet non-Covid demand, let along the explosion in Covid cases thanks to the G7 conference.

    The idea of remote work that allows you to move to the countryside is lovely, but it also requires a lot of public-facing jobs to exist in those areas as well. It seems like a short term choice to move your family somewhere because it’s pretty and the kids can play outside more, and not consider, say, whether there’s a single nhs dentist in a hundred mile radius, or if the schools have been able to retain teachers.

    1. RandomUser (UK)*

      It was certainly an interesting article! As an ex-Scarborough-ian I couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t a wise decision – like you’ve mentioned our property prices are just excaberating the great class divide, and it’ll be interesting to see how people few in a few months or years when they realise they now live in a place that has horrendous infastructure, I’m willing to bet the North will no longer be a cheap place to live but will still be left to rot.

    2. GraceC*

      The gentrification is going to be a HUGE issue, not to mention people getting priced out of their areas as Londoners sell their £1m+ homes and move away to cheaper regions. Kind of dreading it, honestly, as someone who has yet to make it onto the housing ladder and is seeing that dream slip further away by the day

    3. LDN Layabout*

      There’s also the issues of people liking rural areas for a holiday and thinking they’re going to enjoy living there.

      There was a pandemic article about a woman whose family had moved to the Coswolds moaning about the lack of frequent (or any) public transport and the inability to get a taxi at short notice that had me rolling because I grew up in the Southwest. None of this is new outside big cities.

      1. UKDancer*

        I saw that article. It was hilarious.

        It’s one of many reasons I like living in big cities because of the public transport, the taxis and the availability of things like theatres and dance classes. I would not do well in a small town.

        While I might consider moving to a different city in the UK (especially given that I could buy a better property than I can in London), I certainly know myself well enough to know I would want to be somewhere like Leeds or Manchester and not a small town or village.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Yup, I am very much a big city person and lockdown made me realise this even more when seeing other people move and I had no wish to leave London. Even if I move for retirement, I’m aiming for a seaside town within an hour/90 minutes of the city.

          I’m hoping the general trend of flats not jumping up in price/lack of availability seen in the housing market might play into me actually being able to afford London property.

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      That’s happening in the US too. Here in California they’ve had articles about people moving to vacation/resort areas like Lake Tahoe and how the towns aren’t really welcoming or set up for so many new residents. The pre-C residents don’t really like the city-fication the newer residents bring — noise, traffic, garbage. Those small towns are going to need to invest in more infrastructure if the trend holds — roads, schools, police, firefighters, etc. — and that usually means higher property taxes to pay for it.

      1. nonegiven*

        They’re also losing the lower wage employees that can’t afford the higher real estate prices.

  28. Anhaga*

    I think the second-to-last commenter that Alison quoted really summed up the root problem fully: “I think of my job as a mutual partnership and if an employer doesn’t treat it that way, I’ll consider looking elsewhere.” That probably encapsulates just about every problem we can have with our employers, whether it’s about not being allowed to go remote or about not having adequate office space for those who want to come back in. If the employer is really serious about running the company well and ensuring that employees are supported in finding the most efficient ways to do the work of the company, they will actually work *with* employees to figure out what makes everything go the most smoothly. Funny . . . true flexibility really is the best answer here, both for those who want to stay remote and those of us who want to be in the office (my job is much easier when we can peer over each other’s shoulders to see what is happening on the computer screen).

    1. Sheldon Cooper*

      Serious question. Where is the line between being flexible and being taken advantage of as an employer?

      1. TNT*

        The same place it has always been (or should have, in a productive workplace): you are paying me money to perform a job within certain specifications. If those specifications are not met, then you are right to take issue with paying me that money.

        The issue is that historically many employers have included “be in a chair where I can see you from nine to five” which is … not actually relevant to most jobs getting done.

      2. Anhaga*

        That’s where the “mutual partnership” thing comes in–employers and employees need to work together to figure out those lines, and respect one another, not assume that the other is out to trick them or take advantage of them. They’re both on the same side with the same goal: getting the company’s work done efficiently. If either the management or the employees sees the other as somehow being in opposition to their “side,” efficiency is going to go down the tubes as each side then tries to figure out how to foil/control the other.

        If management and workers feel oppositional toward one another, you’re well on the way to losing the war over productivity.

      3. ferrina*

        For me, the difference is respect. I’m an results-oriented person, which can make me very accommodating (“Yes, I can make that change/sacrifice because it achieves X goal”). I’m happy to be flexible when I’m able to, but when I’m not able to, I expect that my employer will work with me to try to find something that works for all parties (or bare minimum makes a good faith effort). An employer that doesn’t make an effort or claims that they “can’t make that decision” or “that’s what the rules are” or “we’re working on that….indefinitely” isn’t making a good faith effort. They are willing to take but not give. Employers that respect their workers will hear you out and either find a way to not cross your lines or will say “we need you to X because Y”. And the Y will be a real reason.
        A good employer/manager will not be offended or hassled by negotiating in good faith.

    2. TennisFan*

      Totally agree with this comment! My ideal workplace is a company that figures out what works best for people at an individual level. I work in an industry where it’s pretty ambiguous how WFH has affected our productivity. I personally enjoy office culture and how it contributes to my growth and enables stronger relationships with my coworkers, but I certainly wouldn’t want that choice imposed on people.

  29. Spcepickle*

    I am very interested in how full time teleworking will play out in a two years. On my team teleworking is going well for people who know their jobs and their teams, but our team is growing. Figuring out how to train new people, not only in their hard job skills, but the soft skills is a challenge. Informal mentoring, over the shoulder reviewers, culture building, cross department friendships, they are all very challenging to do fully online. I think we are going to find that people who come back to the office (it is optional at my office) are going to get more interesting jobs and promoted more often.

    1. Over It*

      I agree. There are a lot of in-office interpersonal relationships that impact our work that aren’t so easily recreated on Teams, and having face time with higher-ups does make a difference. Onboarding new employees remotely also takes a lot longer, as I learned from starting a new job in April that was fully remote at the time. It took over a month for me to have a full 40+ hours worth of work to do each week despite my team being swamped, although I eventually got there. That’s not necessarily an argument against 100% remote positions, but employers will need to learn to budget longer timeframes for employees to be onboarded.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      I have the same concern. We’re seeing all our new hires make “newbie mistakes” and have basic misunderstandings way past the time when we would normally see that.

    3. Lotus*

      My previous job hired remote workers before COVID. Basically half the team was in office and half was remote. It didn’t impact the workflow, but that is because our clients were always remote so whether the analysts were working from LA or NY didn’t impact how the reports were delivered. It also helped that our managers didn’t really care about stuff like “team building” so they weren’t particularly biased towards in person employees (although they did seem biased towards white male employees but that’s another discussion.) However, whether or not this structure works really depends on the company culture and the type of products the company produces obviously. I was in office when I worked at this company and the only downside I perceived to being remote was that if you’re a social person, it could be isolating. But all of our remote employees were married with families so that probably wasn’t an issue with them.

      1. allathian*

        Or at least not as much. That said, as much as I love my family, I do appreciate the chance to interact with people in person in a professional capacity, at least sometimes. My job can be done fully remotely, but I expect that we’ll go back to some sort of hybrid in the fall, unless the pandemic becomes even worse with new variants.

  30. JB*

    I got a fully remote job over the pandemic, and love it. Long term it will probably be a couple days a month in the office, and it varies based on work teams, but I haven’t felt pressure to come in even though I know some other teams are back.

    Wouldn’t necessarily quit over having to come in, and there may be some career advancement paths that require it, but it is a huge benefit. It’s allowed my family to move to a 2-career model with no extra childcare needs, which especially during COVID is worth a fortune.

  31. learnedthehardway*

    I’ve been working from home for over 10 years now, and the pandemic has only reinforced to me how optimal this is. The vast majority of my clients are going to be hybrid for the future. For quite a few, it’s a question of economics – having office space is expensive. But staff demand is also making an impact.

  32. Chc34*

    I would guess that at least part of the reasons people are willing to leave jobs over this is that employers who are being inflexible about remote work without real reasons for being so are probably inflexible about a lot of other things as well, and this is the straw breaking the camel’s back.

    1. Spooncake*

      That’s exactly it. The pandemic has shown me how inflexible my current employers are about remote work, and also disability accommodations in general, and it’s the second one that’s had more influence on my decision to move on. The remote working was really just the canary in the coal mine when it came to me realising just how rubbish my supposed accommodations actually were and finding something new that worked better for me.

  33. Violet Fox*

    Has there been much talk about the people who don’t like remote work and are even willing to quit over it as well?

    I’m in the position that I’ve been at work pretty much the whole time and people being remote/part remote has upped my workload a lot and made so many things take so much longer than they used to and I find the thought of that being my new normal really scary, but also truthfully I’m absolutely exhausted from the past year and I need people back so I can have something resembling a functioning work-life balance.

    I also am to the point where I just can’t take the thought of another year of days packed with Zoom meetings.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      As someone who has worked from home for more than a decade, I have found that you have to actively manage when you are going to be available, if you want to have work/life balance. Eg. that means not taking calls on your work phone after a certain time at night. I have mostly stopped sending emails out late at night, too (I send them, but I set them to be delivered at 8:00 AM the next day). I refuse meeting invitations that are wildly outside of work hours as well.

      (Personally, I’m less about work/life balance than about work/life flexibility – I’ll do a weekend meeting if it frees up a weekday for something else. But that’s my choice.)

      1. Violet Fox*

        My job has physical infrastructure responsibilities. I *cannot* do a lot of it from home.

        I’m really exhausted from workload *created* by remote people. This really is not a sympathetic or helpful answer at all. Please don’t push this.

      2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        This. Work Computer and Work Phone are only powered on during my work shift. Once the shift ends I don’t touch them again until the next day.

        1. Violet Fox*

          To quote myself:

          My job has physical infrastructure responsibilities. I *cannot* do a lot of it from home.

          I’m really exhausted from workload *created* by remote people. This really is not a sympathetic or helpful answer at all. Please don’t push this.

          1. Rob aka Mediancat*

            How is someone saying that, when they work from home, they have a hard and fast rule about not turning their work computer on unless they’re working unsympathetic and unhelpful?

            — not being a smartalec here. I genuinely don’t see the connection.

            1. Ray Gillette*

              It has nothing to do with the top-level comment. Maintaining work-life balance when working from home is a perfectly good and valid topic, but it’s completely out of place as a reply to someone who can’t work from home and who has seen an increased workload as a direct result of colleagues working from home. I would guess that learnedthehardway intended to respond to someone else and it ended up here due to nesting fail, and the other people who responded to them didn’t notice.

    2. Spearmint*

      I think we’re in a period of flux and experimentation, and how in-person vs. remote shakes out will vary by field, by company, and even by team. I hope that teams with people like you will ultimately figure out a way to make it work well for everyone, or find some sort of compromise that is not anyone’s ideal but isn’t unfairly burdensome for anymore. I think most good workplaces will get there, but we may need a few years of experimentation before everyone figures out the ideal set up for their team.

    3. Anhaga*

      It sounds like your position may be one where the management needs to work out if it’s truly reasonable to have permanent work from home for some employees without having to restructure everyone’s duties. If everyone has some responsibilities that require being in the office, that’s probably not a good situation for anyone to have full time work from home.

      FWIW, I can completely see quitting over remote work becoming the norm at my company. I hate working from home. I did it for a solid 10 years and even when I tried to set boundaries, it crept in. I like having my nice quiet office where I spend my weekdays and where I can drop in to chat with my co-workers or help one of my team members sort out a problem.

      1. Violet Fox*

        The plan for us is to be as back as much as possible as much as the government here/higher ups allow it because I’m far from the only person in this sort of position. It’s higher-ed/academica which makes things more complicated.

        While my department has been pretty reasonable with the Zoom thing, a lot of others haven’t and a lot of outside collaborators have not been, which is part of the problem.

        I love having my open-door policy where anyone can drop in to talk/ask about things without having to email, etc first. I also love getting to know our new people who cycle through every few years and show them around the uni a bit and give advice about the place they’ve moved to.

        It’s so much easier for me to get a read on what people are asking when I see them in person, especially for a lot of the folks we have that never have worked with an IT department before of any real sort. For those people we try to give them some idea of what they can expect of us, and for us to give them some idea of what we expect of them. So much of that is tailoring things to the individual, their field, and what their needs are likely to be.

        In the before-times we also had a cycle where there were very busy times of the year but they were balanced out with quiet times and times with a lot of flexibility. A lot of what was lost for me were the quiet times, which I need to recover from the busy times and do a lot of the back-end work. But it honestly helps that I work for good management who made a lot of that flexibility possible, and I’ve always felt valued by them and by the people I work with overall (there are individuals here and there but I think it’s like that everywhere).

    4. BRR*

      My anecdotal take is there hasn’t been much talk about in the general media but I know people who feel the same. A former coworker’s company is using this time for the entire company to switch to fully remote which makes my coworker’s job incredibly difficult. She has absolutely zero desire to continue doing the same amount of work with each task taking much longer.

      1. Violet Fox*

        I just really wish more of this was talked about in the work from home or not conversation. It really does feel like the whole topic is more complicated than it’s made out to be, and this is without even talking about all of the jobs that just can’t be done from home, which is large parts of the workforce.

      2. cncx*

        this is lowkey where i am at, i am happy to help out because i need to come in for my job and i like coming in, but i also want recognition that i’ve taken on tasks that a) allow people to be remote who otherwise could not, and b) at the expense of some of my own tasks. I’m not mad about it, but i just want it to be spelled out by the people i am doing the work for and by management.

    5. Koala dreams*

      It was reasonable to have as few people as possible in the office/work when there wasn’t an vaccine and the pandemic was horrible. The uncertainty made people stay in job with worse conditions because it seemed risky to “Jump ship”. Now there is a vaccine, we know a lot more about what helps and not when it comes to virus spread, and the economy is going better. I guess a lot of companies will find that the days of over-working their employees because of the pandemic has come to an end.

      Good luck with finding better work/life balance!

    6. Lalaroo*

      This is an interesting study on the percentage of people who prefer remote work, and in what amount:

      They found that 31% of people whose jobs can be done remotely would like to work remotely full-time, 46% would like to work from home 1-4 days per week, and only 22% would prefer to never work from home. It seems like it is a rarer preference, and one which was the norm prior to the pandemic, which is probably why it isn’t talked about as much.

      1. Violet Fox*

        I know someone who’s spent their home days working on an ironing board, another has back problems from their kitchen table, another who barely has a sofa because their kids needed the kitchen table and their spouse needed space too, but I live in an urban area where people have less living space then suburban US.

        I think some of WFH is about privilege too, including privilege to have enough space and infrastructure to make it viable. Really feel like this is not talked about enough.

        1. Lalaroo*

          I think there’s also a privilege to the other position. If your options are either work from home in a cramped space, or work at the office while hotdesking in an open room at a long shared table, that’s different than if your “office” is actually a private office with a door that closes, or even a cubicle.

          If the choice was between WFH or hotdesking, I’d choose working from home even if I had to work on the couch, because at least I wouldn’t have to get dressed in business clothes and commute.

    7. ferrina*

      It almost sounds like there’s two things going on here:
      1) You don’t like remote work. It just doesn’t sit well with your work style. It sounds like you might also find it draining?
      2) Your workload has increased due to the increase of remote work. Other people’s WFH has tangibly impacted your job and your responsibilities.

      For the second item, Alison has had a couple letter on this. I think a lot of managers don’t realize the impact that one person/role has had to absorb during the pandemic. If this is the new normal, I hope you’re able to go back to your manager and say “I can’t do all of this in a reasonable work week. How can we shift some of these responsibilities to make my workload manageable?” If your manager isn’t responsive to this, that’s bad management.

      Good luck!

      1. Violet Fox*

        Management is aware, and I’m not the only person in this situation. They’re doing the best they can with what they are allowed to do.

        We’ve been in conversation the whole time and they’ve made sure I’ve been able to take some time off this year between semesters and have as much flexibility as possible to use the quiet moments.

        Honestly this one isn’t on my management. They really are doing what they can and have been quite good to us all things considered. Does not change the state of things being what they are,

  34. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

    My company is going hybrid, which is what I want. I think what’s often missing from the conversation is the benefits of working in the office.

    1. Better/easier access to coworkers and your manager. My company uses Microsoft Teams and I can message someone and have a direct conversation, but it may take them half a day to respond. In the office, I can walk up to them and address it quickly. Along the same lines, some things are just easier to explain vocally than over text. A friend just called me (!) a week ago to tell me a story instead of telling it in pieces over text. Same thing at work, it’s just sometimes easier in person.

    2. The commute, as long as it’s short, can be important. Studies have been done that show it changes your mindset. When you’re on your commute, you know you are heading to work. When you are going home, you use the commute to forget about work and think about home things. Depending on your home arrangement (ideally, a room set aside just for work), you can do this at home, but there are so many factors involved and it doesn’t work for everyone.

    3. You have impromptu conversations with coworkers when you’re in person / you get to know them better. (And maybe actually make some friends.) I had a coworker who sat in the same open room as me. If we were in the break room at the same time, we would talk about home ownership, gardening, the city we lived in, etc. That only happened in the break room, and I certainly wouldn’t message him just to have those conversations. He has now left the company, so those conversations will no longer happen, but similar conversations can happen with other people. I have one, just one, coworker that I currently have conversations like that with over Teams. Mostly we talk about the weather and how local forecasts never get it right.

    4. There can be mass communications / get-togethers that are more casual. My workplace will sometimes get everyone together in a large room, make some announcements, talk through what’s coming up soon, and then probably feed us cake for birthdays or something. Similar to an all-hands meeting, but we have those separately, too. And of course the all-hands meeting itself. I’ve now had them both virtually and in-person and the in-person ones definitely feel more personal, like there is more camaraderie. And similar to #3, we get to know each other better through those. There is a lot of standing around before it starts while getting food, drinks, etc. We talk about work, we talk about non-work, we learn about each other. That never happens with the virtual ones. (Oh, and I generally dislike people and welcomed the stay home orders in 2020, but I do enjoy getting to know people individually when I can. It’s not like I’m a social butterfly who wants to be friends with everyone.)

    All that said, if I was told I had to go with 100% in-person or 100% remote, I would choose remote. I like the lack of commute, I like that I can work from anywhere, and the other often-cited benefits (ie. your home amenities instead of sharing with coworkers). But I still recognize there are benefits to in-person, it’s not like remote has all the advantages and in-person has none, even though that’s often the narrative from pro-WFH people (not accusing anyone, just an observation of what I often see).

    1. chocolate lover*

      I agree with much of what you’ve said. Some of us actually miss the in-person experience, even if it’s just me in the office by myself (which it literally has been some days), because at least I’m NOT IN MY HOME STARING AT MY WORK EVERY MINUTE because I’m set up on the dining room table and can never escape.

      To be clear, I’m glad that more people who want the flexibility of WFH and/or hybrid work are getting it. I just don’t want it for myself. We’re being forced to go hybrid, and I’ve been negotiating to be in the office at least 3 days, instead of the designated 2 days, and they still haven’t figured out what degree of miserable hot-desking we’re going to do come fall.

      My commute? Yes, it’s long on public transportation, but it’s MY time. I’m listening to music, reading my book, and transitioning myself from home to work or vice versa. Now, and the commute time that used to be “my” time, is now more work time, because my home set-up simply doesn’t provide the same level of productivity for me, and it takes me longer to get things done. Especially when my husband is watching tv in the next room, because he works different schedules than I do. He can hear me from any room in our home, so I stress about waking him up. And since I use a monthly transportation pass anyway, WFH hasn’t saved me any money. In fact, it’s cost me money in utilities and supplies to make this set-up tolerable, that my employer didn’t provide.

      I miss the impromptu conversations, and get frustrated by the various Teams/other messages where people seem to think I can just drop what I’m doing to answer them (as opposed to being in person, where they can see that I’m caught up in something and to ask later.) There are coworkers I will never get to know by virtue of sitting next to them at a meeting, because I will not schedule yet another zoom meeting to do it.

      If they told us we would stay completely remote forever, I’d definitely look for another job.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        I see the hot-desking thing as a real concern for many who have to return. Employers won’t want to keep a space reserved for an employee who is only in the office once or twice a week, as office real estate is so expensive. My company is downsizing this fall and only taking enough new space for employees who choose to return. If you are remote and will need to go in for a meeting or whatever, you will have to grab an empty cubicle or desk while you’re there.

        1. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

          I am definitely worried about hot-desking. My office is a satellite, in a different state from the headquarters, and we have been growing the last five years. We are still in the same building but now with more employees. We also have approved permanent moves to other states / remote work, even before the pandemic. We just signed a new multi-year lease during the pandemic, so we’re still staying here. I suspect the hybrid approach will include different teams come in on different days of the week so each team can have some in-person time together but the office won’t become overcrowded. I am not certain but I believe for now we have enough space to accommodate that without using hot-desking.

    2. Sheldon Cooper*

      I absolutely agree with that, and I feel like that’s been hugely over looked by employees that are demanding their employers allow WFH.

    3. Allypopx*

      I agree with all of this. I miss my commute so badly, and the informal interaction of the office. When I work from home it’s so hard to gear up/wind down from work. I’m so very, very effected by my environment.

    4. James*

      “3. You have impromptu conversations with coworkers when you’re in person / you get to know them better.”

      There are a handful of people in the company that I make a point of always chatting with. If they want to talk about their evening, we do. If they want to talk about TV shows, we do. The reason is that these conversations usually tend to ramble towards work-related topics, and it’s a way to informally transmit or gather information. It’s nothing we’d set a meeting for–often the whole issue is that we’re unaware that something could be an issue!–it just sort of comes out as we chat.

      The cost savings from those conversations would easily have covered the cost of the lease on our office. No doubt in my mind.

      And the problem is, the only way to build a relationship where you can have such conversations is to have such conversations. This is easy to do in person–you go into a meeting five minutes early and start chatting. It’s natural human interaction. It’s nearly impossible to do via Zoom and Teams.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        When we were WFH, we used Teams and Zoom for group meetings, but I had a lot of one-on-one phone calls too. I found that the people I had previously tended to chat with in person turned into the people I tended to chat with on the phone, before or after our work-related conversation. But I don’t know if that would have happened with new coworkers.

    5. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

      I agree with most everything in the other replies here. And to be clear, I’m definitely not saying WFH is terrible, or presenting any sort of idea that there is just one answer to this. I was only getting at, the pro-WFH (especially people quitting or not accepting new jobs based on not having a guaranteed 100% WFH) make it sound like it’s WFH 100 and In-person 0. That’s just not the case. Sure, there can be reasons WFH is better for some people in some situations (childcare comes to mind). Again, I would personally choose WFH if I had to go 100% in either direction. But while doing that, I would recognize there are disadvantages to 100% WFH which mostly have to do with transitioning your mindset between work and home, and what technology cannot replicate/replace that in-person does so well.

    6. allathian*

      I really don’t miss my commute, even if it’s only about 45 minutes door-to-door. That said, when my son was a toddler and we were building a house, those 90 minutes per day were the only me-time I could count on getting. Even with my son in daycare, I wouldn’t have been happy to WFH at that time. I needed the commute to reset from mommy mode to work mode and back again. So I definitely get this!

      But now, especially during the school year, I’m really happy to avoid the commute. My son’s also quite happy doing his own thing for much of the day, even if it means a lot of screen time, so that I can focus on work even during his summer vacation.

      The only things I miss from the office are the impromptu hallway chats with people I don’t work with every day. I also think that development days in person are a lot more rewarding and enjoyable than virtual ones.

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      Most of these reasons are about being in the office with your coworkers–which is the only thing I would like about working in the office… and I don’t think hybrid solutions will really provide that. My company is moving to a hybrid model but the goal seems to be to minimize how many people are in the office at a time so it doesn’t seems like there would be a lot of overlap with my coworkers. Because of that, and because my manager was hired as a full-time remote employee so we would have to continue to communicate virtually anyway, I’m pushing to be classified as full-time remote.

  35. Over It*

    We’ve been back in the office 3x/week for a couple weeks now, and my whole team is in together on two of those days. While most of us were more or less able to do our entire jobs from home, it has been helpful to have in-office time together. We are communicating and collaborating so much better from the office and while there is more chit-chat, we’re also getting more done. I don’t think we’d necessarily get additional benefit from being full time in office that we aren’t getting from our current hybrid schedules, but feels like our leadership is headed in that direction. However, even though we don’t have the most worker friendly policies, there’s been no great resignation from what I can tell. We are government, and people who have been here for a long time are not willing to give up their job securities and pensions even if they are unhappy about returning to the office.

    1. 1000*

      I’m pretty sure the security of government employment is all that will protect your upper management from a Great Resignation if they are daft enough to force everyone to come back into the office full time when they can do their jobs from home perfectly well and without issue.

  36. Goldenrod*

    I 100% agree with the last part of the article that mentions it’s not even so much getting to work from home, as the style of communication that irks.

    I was really disappointed when I was told I could no longer do any telework. HOWEVER, if this had been communicated in a way that ALSO conveyed that I am a valued employee that they really want to retain, I would have felt a lot better about the conversation. It was delivered in a way that made me feel like I am not at all valued with kind of a “take it or leave it” attitude.

    I know I am a high-performer, and I just want to work somewhere where I feel valued and respected. So, although my decision to actively look for other jobs was triggered by the remote work conversation, the reason I am leaving is much more because of what that conversation revealed about how my employer treats employees.

  37. JohannaCabal*

    I was hoping companies would realize how much they’re saving in overhead (heating, rent, etc.) by having staff WFH. Anecdotally, I know of two companies that switched to strictly remote for the most part as a cost-saving measure.

    1. Nicki Name*

      For some companies, it’s a sunk-costs issue. Google, for instance, is famous for its in-office perks, so it’s no surprise that it’s insisting that practically everyone needs to go back into the office.

  38. aubrey*

    My job isn’t perfect, but the company is fully remote (plus no video meetings) and has been for years. It would take an enormous amount of money and a dream job to get me to return to commuting to a butts-in-seats office, particularly the horrible open offices common in my industry.

  39. Former Retail Lifer*

    My husband has been home since March of 2020 and his employer is trying to bring people back. He has to call people all day long, and he’s found he’s more productive in a quiet, closed-off room than he was in a busy cubicle farm with tons of background noise. He’s among the people who want to quit if they have to return, but there really aren’t many permanent remote jobs in his field, or anything adjacent, where they really care if people quit. I’m hoping the leverage to work where you wish trickles down to other jobs soon. He’s been so much happier with no commute, no commuting costs, and being able to sleep in that I’d hate to see him lose those benefits.

  40. YetAnotherNerd42*

    I tried to negotiate 100% WFH with my current employer and the best I could do was a hybrid of 2 days in the office and 3 WFH.

    I would love to move farther away from the expensive, stressful big East Coast city I have to live near for work. I’d like to buy a place with enough workshop space to engage in the auto and motorcycle repair and restoration hobby I love, and enough isolation from the neighbors so that I can take up playing the guitar again, or let the stereo get a bit loud once in a while, without annoying the heck out of them.

  41. rnr*

    Can I just say… I’ve been working from home since March 2020, and I live in a van (by choice) with my husband. The first couple months he was also working from home. I thought it would be a complete nightmare, but we figured out a system and it actually went really well. I would still rather work from my van than be in the office!

    I still think I’ve had it easier than people trying to work from home with small kids, though.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      And here I am in a three bedroom house with just me and my pets, and wanting more room. lol

  42. Choggy*

    Just had a discussion about this today, manager asked who was going to be in the office this week, barring some special dispensation from HR. We have one person who will be in every day, and has been in the office the whole time due to his job (hardware support), his back up will *try* to make it in barring car issues, I said I will be in the office two days this week, depending on how many meetings I have (there is NO reason for me to physically be in the office for meetings and the majority of the work I do). One thing is for sure, if I’m in the office, I will be less productive, that’s a given. He’s not the one who wants us back, it’s the senior staff. We’ve two people leave already (one moved to another state for family reasons and had hoped to worked remotely), and in addition we’re having a REALLY hard time hiring due to no WFH (even hybrid!) options. And now Covid is rearing its ugly head again and states may be mandating mask wearing once more.

  43. Exhausted Trope*

    “… if companies are seeing mass resignations that would have been avoidable if they had made themselves a good place to work.”
    Well said!
    My company in spades. No flexibility and now madly dog-paddling to stay afloat as more and more employees jump ship…

  44. Jenny*

    I’m wondering if a lot of companies are pushing to go back to the office because managers are traditionally trained (I know there are exceptions) to manage in-person. Let’s say that the majority of people are more productive at home. That doesn’t mean everyone is and managers at my company seem like they don’t know how to handle this other than setting rigid deadlines, check-ins and goals that further irk employees. I don’t believe that because someone is a bad manager that they are a bad person or unwilling to change. Management is a learned skill just like any other job skill. We need to develop and implement the right training.

    Even those who aren’t managers have been conditioned for in-person networking, collaborating, camaraderie, etc. I think these skills can be transitioned to virtual over time but you’re not going to overhauled the mainstream working culture of 100+ years in a year and a half of a global pandemic. We’re having weird growing pains with this at my company and it’s going to take some time.

    1. BRR*

      I know this applies to some degree at my employer. None of the senior leadership knows how to manage remotely and that’s trickled down. Their goal is to get everyone back in the office 5 days a week, no exceptions. Just last week, my manager basically said that they had no idea if I was actually working because I was doing some more independent work and they hadn’t heard from me. I feel wonderful that I’m not trusted to be working during even though I created a system to report on how much work I do and that will definitely not be looking for a new job (sarcastic).

      1. Jenny*

        UGHHH. See that’s what I mean, a manager would almost never say that to someone if they were in the office, even if the metrics and reporting were all the same. They would assume you were working unless proved wrong and that’s the mentality they should have about someone working from home. It seems like a simple shift in thinking but I think it’s much more ingrained than that.

    2. Caboose*

      I think some stuff could be transferred to be virtual, but some stuff just…physically can’t be. The biggest loss, imo, in online settings, is the inability to have a side conversation. You’re either addressing the entire group, or sending a message to just one person.
      In person, though, I can hear if someone on my team is having a relevant conversation, and pop over to join in– whether it’s related to work or just socializing. In a big group meeting, people naturally form into groups of two or three to have conversations, but you can mill around and wind up talking to a lot of people. Heck, I’ve eaten my lunch in our CTO’s office(!!) because he was watching a livestream of a game we both play, and he figured I’d be interested. But he only thought to ask because he saw me walking past on my way to the microwave. Those encounters can’t be recreated in online spaces, because online spaces don’t have…space.
      (Some video games do offer proximity-based voice chat, but the idea of getting an entire team into Among Us just to facilitate socializing is both extremely funny to picture and extremely unlikely to happen. I did read about a company who used Red Dead Online for their meetings, though.)

  45. Nanani*

    Another factor is that a lot of people, especially women, enjoy the savings in time and money from not having to look profesionally polished. It varies by industry and workplace but a lot of us really were judged negatively for not spending the time on appearance. Working remotely (especially if your employer isn’t all about the cameras-on life) means you really don’t have to do All That.
    Goes together with commute savings, in a way.

    1. Allypopx*

      True, but I work a lot better if I’m dressed for the office and have a hard time making myself do that just to sit at home. There’s psychological benefits and costs on both sides with most of these things.

      1. Galadriel's Garden*

        Ha yes, this. My work appearance – and the effort I’ve put into it – has oscillated wildly throughout the pandemic. The first few weeks, I did my full “in office” makeup routine and while I dressed down a bit more, still wore my “nicer” clothes…then a close friend died suddenly and unexpectedly, and I gave up effort almost completely for a couple months and basically lived in yoga pants and hoodies (save for important meetings). Then I started realizing how dead I looked on camera and started filling in my eyebrows and putting on some mascara and tinted lip balm daily, but no more than that. Slid back into wearing more “businessy” clothes (or at least tops that looked professional enough on camera), then it got obscenely hot here, and while I kept up the makeup, trying to find appropriate but comfortable clothes to wear in my home office has been a struggle. Now it’s lightweight blouses and wide-legged linen pants, so at least if I have to stand up on camera suddenly it won’t be a show…

        Either way, I’ve found that I *have* to change out of my pajamas and into different clothes when I work from home to maintain my mental health, and I have to wear *some* makeup to look put together on camera…but the 2 minutes my current routine takes compared to the 10 it used to is a godsend, especially since I can do it 10 steps away from my desk.

        1. Galadriel's Garden*

          Editing to add…the amount of money I’m saving on makeup is insane by paring my daily-wear items down from 8+ to 3, and those 3 are all drugstore products compared to some of my more expensive products I used to use if not daily, then at least frequently. Wearing minimal makeup has also taught me to be more comfortable with my bare face, so the idea of going to the grocery store “au natural” is no longer horrifying to me, so I’m not going to slap on foundation and eyeliner to hit the cereal aisle as I used to (why).

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, I hear you. I’ve worn pretty much the same clothes I would have worn to the office, but mine’s pretty casual. Jeans are fine. Leggings are fine, as long as you wear a long top that covers your butt, or a dress. Pretty much any kind of t-shirt is fine, I’ve even seen some people in hoodies, although those are most commonly seen in the IT dept.

          I haven’t worn any makeup in years, and I don’t think that it’s impacted how I’m seen professionally. I only wear makeup and a nicer blouse/slacks at professional conferences, and I haven’t been to one of those since October 2019.

    2. AdequateAdmin*

      Yes! For Job#1 I have to spend money on clothes that I would not necessarily wear otherwise, buy cosmetics, and waste time making sure all of these things look good and fit in with the company style(?). (I’ve given up on my hair, it’s curly and does what it wants). I could save so much time, money, and mental energy not having to worry about these things by WFH! Job#2 has me WFH about 50% of the time and I feel so much more comfortable and productive not having to put on all the trappings and waste time worrying about my appearance. (Other 50% is grody field work. The only cosmetic you need is sunscreen.)

      As a side note, the job that requires me to dress up and such doesn’t really pay me enough to afford to do so. Bute the job that lets me work in my PJs does actually pay me a salary that would facilitate the special clothes and cosmetics, etc.

  46. DJ Abbott*

    Awesome! The old guard will have to learn the hard way, and you all are teaching them! Good job!
    Meanwhile it’s not just office work that this applies to. I’ve been working in the deli at a grocery store for two months, and I’m thinking of applying to a different store because the store I’m at doesn’t care about being a good place to work. My manager is a bulldozer who scares people and makes us feel bad, and we’re constantly shorthanded and the pressure is tremendous. The whole store is like that, and I do not need the health effects for a short term part time job.

  47. RJ*

    Over the pandemic and consequent unemployment, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to consider work and future work situations. Several former co-workers got COVID and two died, both due to my former companies not shutting down in time and requiring them to be in the office when it was absolutely not necessary. Previously, I just wanted a hybrid position, but I’m now a remote first thinker. I will train and get more education as I need to in order to achieve this and thankfully I have savings and family support to hold off for another year if necessary. I’m a 9/11 survivor and was laid off right before my old company shut down for COVID. I’ve missed being a statistic twice and I’m not tempting fate again.

    1. lilsheba*

      Jesus…… that’s insane. If co workers got Covid because of mishandling by the company, is there any legal recourse for the families?

      1. RJ*

        None, because unfortunately in one case, COVID was transmitted via our UK office before the US shutdowns. In another, a marketing employee has to come into the office because an associate had marked up a proposal, but had technical issues with scanning. Time was of the essence. The employee had been isolated for months and was exposed somewhere between his home and the office in NYC. It caused a ripple effect in my old office and they are now remote first/hybrid.

        Very sad situation, both of them.

  48. Lacey*

    Yup. My employer was always pretty traditional about wanting people in the office (we had a bit of WFH flexibility before, but not a lot), but they saw the way things were going and decided the only reasonable thing to do was give most people the option of WFH or coming back to the option.

    Of course some jobs can’t be done remotely, just like some jobs require travel, but for the most part people chose what they wanted.

  49. Bookworm*

    Nothing but respect for those who haven’t been able to work from home, whether its because of the nature of the job or because their employer refused to do it, etc.

    But I am one of those who switched than return. The WFH itself is not a make or break deal, but rather how the return itself was poorly rolled out (ignoring the anxiety and burnout and exhaustion people were expressing) plus how poorly the org has shown itself to be during the pandemic. I know it’s not the only situation/office that did so, but the last quote in the article nails it: if my old org had handled some things better, had been just a little more understanding (I respect none of us had idea how this would work!), they wouldn’t see all these people leaving.

    And they don’t seem to care so there was nothing to say.

  50. Midwest writer*

    About 6.5 years ago, I took a job with a company that had a hybrid schedule — three days in the office (alone in a little remote office) and two days at home. Three years ago, when my current job came calling, I negotiated the same schedule. Both jobs include a lot of other flexibility — a sick kid on a normal office day might mean adding a WFH day or swapping the days around. The idea of ever going back to five days in the office sounds so overwhelming that I can’t really wrap my mind around it. Sometimes, I wish my current job would actually switch to three days of WFH, but that isn’t really feasible, at least not right now. Still, I’m so grateful for the schedule and it definitely keeps me at a job that is less prestigious and maybe offers fewer financial benefits. I think it’s a fair trade-off for the flexibility.

  51. Zenfrodo*

    Another reason companies are trying to pressure workers into returning to the office: it’s a lot harder to pressure folks into overtime & overworking when they’re remote. At work, there’s the social pressure: they’ve got you there, in their power-space, surrounded by in-person coworkers who have agreed to overtime & other personnel who “really really need you to step up”. It’s easier to force that “do more with less” nonsense down folks’ throats when the manager is right there, standing over them in-person, surrounded by the “team” that have already caved.

    At home, though? Not so much. WFH gives you more power to take back your personal life. You’re surrounded by your personal life, in your own “place of power”, with all the comforts & pets & good feelings your home gives.

    The last company I worked for (before I became too sick to work) encouraged WFH. They stated openly that it saved them lots of money in overhead (bills, space, etc etc). I strongly suspect that’s true across the board in Workplace Land, but companies won’t admit it because “we can’t afford to hire more workers” is the main BS reason given for “do more with less”.

    I’m one of those who flat-out refuse to work overtime, period, especially when said company *constantly* begs for overtime. (Truly unexpected happenings are an exception, like natural disasters striking another call center: I gladly stepped up for those). But constant overtime being begged or demanded is a sign that the company needs to hire more & won’t. Yet being stressed & burned out from overwork is more devastating, even short-term; no one does good work in those conditions.

    COVID has finally enabled US workers to see what other countries know & enforce in their labor laws: our current workplace environments/expectations are sick, unreasonable, & overdemanding. The changes are just beginning.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      At home, though? Not so much. WFH gives you more power to take back your personal life. You’re surrounded by your personal life, in your own “place of power”, with all the comforts & pets & good feelings your home gives.

      At home, you’re also potentially simply unreachable at 4:55 pm (or whenever 5 minutes to quitting time is).

      Conversely, it’s a lot easier to talk me into an extra 2-3 hours in an evening when I’m at home and can take a short mental health break with my kids, spouse, and/or pets, still eat a meal that isn’t drive-through fast-food, and I don’t have to drive home in the dead of the night, pulling every trick in the book to stay awake the whole way.

      1. Zenfrodo*

        This, definitely. Same WFH workplace tried to make all WFH’ers be 24/7 on-call whenever we were “needed”, since we didn’t have to commute or supposedly had no reason to call in sick or not-work while sick or whatever. Kinda funny how impossible that was to enforce, since they had no way of forcing WFHers to answer any calls to non-work numbers.

  52. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

    Its very strange to watch from the sidelines, as I have no horse in this race. My job is particular where WFH is NOT an option for most of us (Scientist). Like… I have animals to care for, bacteria to grow. None of that can come home with me.

      1. Campfire Raccoon*

        I came here to say the same thing. With teenage boys the sink and bathrooms could be housing any number of unknown bacteria cultures.

      2. James*

        The last time I had cultured bacteria in the house my wife was….unhappy. My sons thought it was fun watching the colonies grow, and they wash their hands better now, but my spouse did not consider that a sufficient reason to make growth media in the kitchen. The fact that my profession doesn’t allow me to play with living things–fossils are, by definition, not alive–didn’t help my cause (though that did save me when I sifted sand for amber in the kitchen)

    1. Teacher Lady*

      Despite the fact that my job WAS WFH from March 2020-2021, I can also say: yeah, not a great option for my field in general. (It worked well for a tiny segment of my elementary-aged students/their families, and I know there are many students/families out there who wish to continue remote learning long-term, and that’s great – but for most of those I work with, going back into school buildings is the better option.)

      I will say that while I HATED remote teaching, I did see the perks of working from home (mostly in the time and resources saved by not having to commute). If I were to change job functions substantially to a position where WFH made more sense, it would definitely be an attractive option!

  53. That One Person*

    I’m still interested to see how my current company’s going to swing. I’m a contractor for a position that makes no sense being WFH so the only reason I was rehired was because the office is starting to open again. While there’ve been talks though to make a more hybrid model, the company so far has seemed a bit pushy for reopening the buildings ASAP (they’ve pushed this a month ahead of originally planned) and loosening restrictions to come in. From what it sounds like they may simply be trying to erase all the reasons people give for NOT coming back in as they want to better assess the hybrid model, whereas right now it’s still probably 97-99% work from home with only a few newer associates coming in right now, but it’s hard to completely say. They may even flop and try to demand people come in, though I think people may still be able to make deals with managers. It’ll be interesting to continue to wait and see.

  54. TeaWrecks*

    I worked remote at least 3 days a week for a couple of years before the pandemic. I do live close to the office and have a great internet connection anyways so that’s not much of an issue for me, and we work only with clients – and often team members- in other countries so there’s no collaboration that is better for being in person. But being able to do this full time? I get over an hour more sleep each night. I’m more focused and better able to concentrate. I’m more productive. I can log in earlier and stay later and not worry about my kids being home with no one there if I have to work late.
    Also, since I haven’t had to buy new clothing, shoes, makeup, pay for transportation and lunches or other foods & drink that I could consume at my desk, etc… I have seen my bank balance grow by a few thousand dollars. Some of it is of course because we haven’t been able to go out and do as many things, but still. This – more than many of the so-called benefits my company offers – is the HUGEST benefit to me and they haven’t had to pay me a single cent more. In fact, when our yearly merit increases were paused for a year, I actually made less but was able to save more. I just have no motivation to go back into my office where I’ll sit in a cube farm and be distracted by random chatter about sports games or TV series, and have to pay for the ‘privilege’.

  55. Archaeopteryx*

    I WFH on a hybrid schedule, but was just able to ask for a whole WFH week and go visit my parents – I got a much longer visit, and didn’t drain any PTO. It’s great! I would definitely start job searching if they took away the WFH piece, not just for quality of life but because of how needlessly arbitrary that would be.

    It also helps that my job can be done from a laptop at home, so I don’t need a big desk setup and can change rooms easily. People who need the big double-monitor situation are eating up a lot more of their floor space. Living in a city where only the wealthiest tech workers have more than one bedroom or **strained laughter** a house makes it less of a sure thing that WFH will be a net gain. But I count myself very lucky.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      It’s also worth noting (and re-noting! since it’s really important!) the environmental savings of having workers en masse stop commuting five days a week, whether it’s going down to a few days or to none in-person. It’s important to try to get people to bike / take public transit but, for example, my hometown (small-sized city) has basically zero public transit that’s remotely practical. And it’s in the desert, so much of the year biking is off the table for any great distance. It’s 100% built for cars, so the only way to rapidly decrease emissions there is to have tons of people commuting a lot less.

      1. Student*

        Another thing to note: this lets employers shift more of their operating costs to employees.

        Who’s paying for your internet connection? How much of it is now spent on work, instead of personal, use? How about your electric bills? Do you have to provide office supplies that your employer used to cover? How many of the electronics that you use primarily for work are provided by work?

        Your compensation hasn’t gone up to cover these increased expenses. Your office is likely not even trying to cover them, knowing that people have no choice but to cover most of these costs themselves.

        I know my employer has shifted a lot of costs to us and offered very little home-office support in return. When my employer does provide anything, there are usually lots of hoops to go through to get it. Need a notebook or a pen? Sure – but you need to come into the office, you need to personally arrange to have the Office Supply Person come into the office on the same day, you need to fill out a form to document what you’re getting, it needs to be pre-approved… and so on. Need a new mouse or keyboard? The hoops you have to jump through and the wait time will cost you more than just buying one yourself. Need a work desk, or a filing cabinet, or a printer, or a scanner, or better lighting in the office area? Good luck shopping yourself, it’s not happening on the company dime.

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        However, there’s a significant environmental impact from having to heat/cool/power multiple individual houses instead of a single office – depending on where you’re based, the type of housing stock and the length of the average commute, home working can actually be worse for the environment overall (it’s especially bad a lot of UK cities where public transport is more commonly used for commutes and a lot of housing stock is 100+ years old and really badly insulated). Environmentally, it’s much more efficient to maintain a single space for heat, cooking, printing etc than it is to have everyone doing it themselves.

    2. Curiouser and Curiouser*

      THIS is what I’m really hoping we take away from all this. Not that every job that *can* be done from home needs to be a WFH job 100% of the time – but now that we’ve seen that some of our jobs can be done remotely with only some drawbacks, things like taking a week and working from elsewhere/traveling to a vacation site early or taking a day or two when you just can’t bring yourself to make it in and don’t want to take a sick day are not going to seem like such a big deal.

      I have a job that I really feel is done more effectively in person because there is actual collaboration that needs to be done (not just buzzword collaboration), but we are effective ENOUGH from home that I hope that flexibility continues.

  56. lilsheba*

    I am so glad I was able to move to a permanent work from home job! I’ve been here almost a year now and I couldn’t ask for anything better!

  57. academicchick*

    I gained 40 pounds stuck in a chair working from home. I was effective – no doubt about that – but it wreaked havoc on my health. Do all the people who love working from home give themselves lunch and exercise breaks or do they all have bicycle chairs or standing desks? I am not joking – seriously, how do they manage? I’m bad at taking breaks at work but the WFH did me in big time…

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I go for my morning run as usual, and call it my morning commute. Kinda sets me up for the workday. During the pandemic I let my gym membership lapse, and admit it’s sometimes hard to work out at home even though I have a BOSU, resistance bands, and free weights. Once I get started, though, I’m good. 20-30 minutes a day makes a difference. I block time on my calendar for it, and for lunch, also to get up and roam around the house. Getting up and moving is a good habit, and so are reminders.

        Don’t have a standing desk, but I sit on my yoga ball at my desk. It helps!

        It’s also easy for me to plan and cook better meals when I don’t rely on going out for lunch with the team. I can’t graze on potato chips if I have carrots and hummus in the house instead.

        Like most things, it takes some time, planning, and new thinking to build new habits. It’s harder when it’s all on you, and I had a hard time at first – still do sometimes. But it gets easiet.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I go for a walk before work, and I do take little stretch breaks (and definitely a lunch break). What were you doing to get exercise in the office? Were you using a bicycle chair at work? Running to work?

      1. Allypopx*

        For comparison – between my commute and just general back and forth around the office/to get lunch or coffee/go to meetings etc I was usually getting close to 10,000 steps a day by the time the work day was done. At home I’m hitting maybe 3,000.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        Just walking to and from the bus stop, around the office, etc. was about 5000 steps. I also had the ability to go to a gym at lunch (which I guess I technically lost because of Covid, not WFH). I had a workspace that was designed ergonomically to be a workspace, not some dumb crappy thing in a corner of my bedroom.

    2. New Job So Much Better*

      Yes to the standing desk (although not a huge vari-desk but a tray type that holds mouse and keyboard while I’m standing.) Lunchtime is a walk when possible or trip across the street to the driving range. It’s easier to exercise a little because I’m not so dressed up. Also not having to commute leaves more time for a quick walk after signing off for the night.

    3. Princess Scrivener*

      I *LOST* 25 lbs once we started full-time WFH. No more two hours in the car, no more eating crap between meetings, no more skipping workouts because I’m stressed or too tired. My work team’s been encouraged to set start & stop work day boundaries, get away from our desks to de-stress, and decline meetings that interfere with our work-life balance. I’m the healthiest I’ve been in a long time after 16 months of WFH. I sleep at least an hour more every night, block out workout time every day, eat healthy from my own kitchen between meals, and without the commute, have added walking and some long-lost hobbies to each day as well. I’m grateful for my company culture, and my boss and grand boss who encourage us to live it. I hope you take time for you, AcademicChick, YOU DESERVE IT!

      1. Infosecretariat*

        Same here! Between getting more sleep; how much easer it is to eat more healthfully; avoiding the steady supply of “I brought in cupcakes/brownies/donuts/cookies” combined with the odd peer pressure to EAT THE CUPCAKE!

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        The one good habit I have managed to maintain throughout this whole thing is running every other day. I have been a runner on and off for about 7 years now but have never managed to be consistent, or to keep running through the winter, when it would already be totally dark by the time I got home after work.

        I have now kept up a streak of running every other day for over 16 months straight. I would never have been able to keep that up without working from home this winter, which allowed me to run during the day before the sun set. And when there aren’t a lot of meetings scheduled I can be really flexible with when I take my lunch break so sometimes I look up the weather and plan to have my run during the most reasonable temperature of the day.

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      I definitely make sure to give myself a lunch break! I would have taken one in the office, so there’s no reason for me not to take one at home. In terms of exercise, not going into work means that I can go for a walk in the morning (or run to the gym) during what would have otherwise been my commute, so it’s been really beneficial for me.

    5. citygirl*

      Here’s my schedule:
      – before the work day I do a gentle yoga routine from Yoga With Adriene
      – I spend my lunch break walking around the neighborhood
      – after work I run 3 miles MWF or I do Apple Fitness+ workouts on Tu/Th (if you don’t have Apple gear, the Peloton app is super similar)
      – I cook my own dinners every night, or make a frozen dinner from TJs if I’m not feeling the energy

    6. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      academicchick- I found I forgot breaks when I started work from home too. So I set alarms on my phone. I might wander away from the computer for a few minutes at the end of a task to stick a loud of laundry in. Just like you might get up to get a drink or use the bathroom in office. But when the phone alarm goes off I know I need to get up and take my Designated Break Time.

    7. Fueled by coffee*

      Ugh, this has been so hard for me. Before covid, I used to walk 3 miles a day just getting from my apartment to the train and then the train to my office and back, plus my actual workouts. I’ve finally started going back to the actual gym, but for over a year pretty much my only exercise was gentle yoga on my living room floor, because I was afraid any kind of jumping would make my downstairs neighbors hate me.

      Also, I do so much more snacking during the day now, wow.

    8. Flower necklace*

      I’m a teacher and I really missed getting in my steps walking around the classroom when we went virtual last year. The good news is that it forced me to get up and go on a walk after school. I was usually too tired to do it before COVID, but I kept up the habit after we went back to in-person teaching. It was a lot easier to maintain it once it became a part of my daily routine.

    9. Wisteria*

      On the rare days when I work from home, in principle, I could take a walk during the 30-45 min that I would have been commuting. In practice, the 30 foot walk from my kitchen to my desk takes as long as the 10 mile drive from my house to my office. My problems notwithstanding, is using your commute time to take a walk an option for you?

    10. Tali*

      Agree but I wonder how much of this is the pandemic–with WFH I could work in my gym clothes and hit the gym instead of commute. But I’m not going to a gym with COVID raging.

    11. MCMonkeyBean*

      I mean you should definitely be giving yourself a lunch break regardless of the whole pandemic/WFH situation!

      And I do sometimes give myself an exercise break. Sometimes I run on my lunch break, but sometimes depending on the weather I might go out for a run and then stay on late to make up for it–like yesterday my boss was messaging the team about how bad the storm was at her house and I said it hadn’t hit my house yet but looked like it was coming soon, so I was going to duck out for the run I had planned to take in the evening to try to beat the rain and then I’d stay online an extra hour later. So less of a break and more of shifting things around. Borrowing an hour from my time in the evening.

    12. blink14*

      I’ve been 100% remote since March 2020, and I’ve tried to stick closely to my “in office” schedule. I don’t work any more hours than I normally would have, I still take my hour lunch break. Much like when I was in the office, I make sure to get up at least once an hour, and actually find that I’m often more active during the day at home then at work. I do small tasks throughout the day that I used to do at night – laundry, dishes, sometimes meal prep, running a quick errand during my lunch break, etc.

      I’ve gotten back 5-7 hours a week in commute time, I can sleep later (which has been a huge help), make more of my free time right after my work day ends. Long term, I’m not sure if 100% remote is for me, but having the option to be hybrid in the future is a huge plus.

  58. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Since I returned to consulting last year, I’ve worked remotely 100%. I also worked remotely almost 100% of the past 15 years. I don’t need a lavish home office, but I do have an office/den and internet service that suits my needs.

    Earlier this year, a client began bringing their employees back on-site 3 days a week after being mostly WFH since the pandemic began. They also wanted project consultants to be onsite, and I pushed back. Not only was I not bound by their policies as a 1099 contracted consultant, but they knew I had at least a 90-minute commute one-way. They agreed that I did not need to be onsite except for the occasional team or project meeting, no stipulation was made in the contract prior to execution, and they were happy with my work product. All was well until it was time to renew my contract in the spring.

    Surprise, being on-site 3 days a week was now written into the contract. I declined to sign the renewal, again pointing out that I’m a 1099 contractor and they faced co-employment issues if they demanded I keep the same schedule as an employee. They complimented me and my work, brushed off the co-employment question, and insisted I needed to be onsite ‘for the good of the team.’

    There were other reasons for my decline, but being in the office 3 days a week because the CEO feels good about seeing people in the building was the main one. The commute was not worth it. Still, my client and their leadership team were shocked. I was supposed to be thrilled – maybe grateful – to work for this F100 company, and move heaven and earth to do it, and I was not.

  59. Batty Twerp*

    We’re still fully remote for all but about 6 people, and will be until at least mid-September when our C-suite are planning a phased return on a yet-to-be-determined hybrid basis. Some roles cannot be done remotely, and our company will always need some kind of office and office-based staff; those who have been office-based throughout this whole thing had, in some cases, requested to be able to go in, swapping roles and responsibilities with those who very much preferred to WFH.
    We’ve also lost 95% of the staff who were placed on furlough and HR are very concerned about losing any more staff, so are taking our feedback on future working preferences seriously – we got the results back from an anonymous staff survey and only 4% of staff want to return to the office full time (this almost certainly includes the half dozen people who never stopped going in). In the same survey less than 10% admitted they were “actively looking at other employment”, but how much of the latter is contingent on the former hasn’t been correlated – curiously, *that* question was missing from the survey (and the latter question appears on EVERY survey, so working preferences isn’t usually considered a factor in staff wanting to leave).

    In the meantime, I’ve been having chitchats with various people at my company and others using various forums, and I’ve come to the conclusion (not backed by any data!) that at least some of the reluctance to return to the office full time among some groups of people comes down to the fact that the open office concept SUCKS! I’ve even had one co-worker _with children_ saying there were fewer interruptions at home than there were sharing an open office space with multiple departments and admitted that, even though she isn’t actively looking, she wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to go somewhere with either smaller office spaces or remote/hybrid working.

    I mentioned my conclusion in a light-hearted “zoom water cooler” discussion with an HR BP and he laughed and said he completely agreed with me. I’m not the first to mention it to him apparently. Even the commute was a lesser factor!
    Given that my department and HR share the same open office space with Marketing and the Sales Team, I think we may be slightly more biased towards the “less distractions at home” camp. I’m not ready to quit over it (too many other factors at play in my case), but it will be a serious consideration in any future job opportunities.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I had been working at one company for only about 7 months when I already was feeling like I kind of regretted leaving my previous company. I had been casually browsing my old companies job listings but wasn’t really planning on doing anything anytime soon. But the day I heard a whisper that my new company was looking to change to an open office concept is the day I texted and old coworker and said I want to come back haha.

      Ended up switching jobs just a couple of weeks into the pandemic sending us to WFH. I’m curious whether any of this had an impact on their plans to move to an open office or if that is still in the works.

  60. WAM*

    The option of remote work has changed my life…or rather I’m hoping it will. Before the pandemic I never thought I could work from home. The pandemic showed me that not only I could, but my family and I would thrive and have more opportunities by my doing so. And it has opened up so much more opportunity.

    My organization has been calling us back. Luckily, my department is doing a hybrid approach. But the fact that my organization is trying to act like 2020 didn’t happen, I’m done. They have talked about ways remote work could benefit the organization (e.g., snow days) but refuse to think about ways it could benefit employees overall. Keep in mind it the many years I’ve been there, I’ve gotten 2 raises (it’s a college). We’ve been through a reorganization where basically all of our titles were demoted, they have tried to take away some of our PTO and countless other things. For some reason, this was my straw. Once I realized they weren’t going to try to learn from the last year and half and find ways (for free) to provide a benefit to employees, I realized I was out.

    I’ve been looking for a job since March and it’s frustrating but I’m going to keep at it.

  61. Andrea*

    My employer finally, today, just sent out a WFH policy. It’s generous, I suppose (up to 3 days/week at home), but very rigid. We have to ask permission, and the WFH days are set in stone and can’t be changed, and basically it makes me feel like a high schooler.

    I work in the “tech center” of a global company. It’s more a North American operations HQ than a tech center, but there is a lab, and I work in it (and enjoy what I do), so I do need to be there sometimes — so it’s not the concept of being in the office that I mind. It’s that they’re dictating it to us. Plenty of us have proven that we’ll come in when necessary, work hard from home when there’s no reason to come in, be available to colleagues and customers — why can’t we do what works best? If you think I’m going to take advantage of the situation, or collect a paycheck without doing my job, FIRE ME and hire someone trustworthy and responsible.

  62. Firecat*

    Bit of a tangent but I would love to see a piece on restaurant workers on AAM. I read one article about staff leaving mid shift. Of course McDs went viral with their “Sorry for the wait no one would wants to work anymore”. Which successfully shifted the narrative away from their massive sexual miscondict scandals.

    I know for me personally, I’ve noticed a steady decline in customer service at restaurants over the past 4 or 5 years, but that has also corresponded with way less staffing so I blame the owners personally.

    For example I live in a town of 180k people. The Burger King here has 4-6 workers at most on staff at noon. None of these staff are a manager. When I worked fast food in the years around 2005, I worked at a BK in a town of 30k people. We had no less then 12 crew members staffed at Noon.

  63. Come On Eileen*

    I’m on the opposite side of this – remote work has been isolating and lonely for me, and I want to go back, but our office just told us we are now officially forever remote. It’s been a hard pill to swallow and I’m looking for whatever loopholes are available to still head into the office on occasion. I realize more people love remote work than people like me, but we exist. Guess it shows how hard it will be for companies to please everyone.

    1. James*

      “I realize more people love remote work than people like me, but we exist.”

      I’m not convinced of that. The folks who love WFH are more vocal, certainly, but I think that a lot of this is cultural–anyone speaking against WFH for the past year has been dismissed as a Luddite at best and a Covid denier at worst. We’ve learned to keep our heads down (well, some have; I’m a slow learner in these matters).

      Like I said up-thread, we’re in the honeymoon phase of WFH. Give it a year or so, and I think we’ll see more people turning against the idea. I’ve already seen some indications of it–Cal Newport’s blog, for example, recently discussed the fact that many people find working at home distracting and desire a space apart from their living space to work in. He had some solutions, but ultimately it amounts to re-inventing the concept of an office building.

      1. Allypopx*

        I agree. And this is not a swipe at anyone in this comment thread this has been a very civil comment thread, but some WFH hardliners are very hard to talk to. I am very firmly in the camp of “there are pros and cons to both and I have my personal preferences but let’s be solution oriented in these conversations so we can work out a policy that everyone is okay with” and some of the pushback is just blatant “WFH is 100% effective for everyone if they’re willing to put the effort in” with no room for discussion. These conversations are exhausting, especially when other people are telling you why WFH is untenable for them privately but are scared to bring it up in group because they’ll get yelled at.

        I think it’s probably like a 60/40 split in favor of WFH with many people being fine with hybrid, but the topic is still so heated it’s hard to see that.

        1. citygirl*

          I think it’s heated because we are missing the obvious power imbalance. Traditional work-from-office has the support of like, every traditional corporation and Fortune 500 company in the world? Whereas WFH is still the radical proposition, the last year notwithstanding. It seems really clear that WFH has a narrow window where employees can really push for it, and that’s what’s happening now before we lose the opportunity forever. There will never be a threat that people will lose the traditional office forever. As long as the discussion starts with an acknowledgement of that power imbalance, it’s all good.

          1. Lalaroo*

            I think this is a great point. There’s a feeling that if we don’t push hard, RIGHT NOW, everything will go back to the status quo pre-pandemic and remote work (at least some days per week even if not full-time) will never become common.

          2. James*

            The cynic in me wonders if this is true. The thing I keep hearing from corporate headquarters (in the company I work for and elsewhere) is “overhead”. WFH is a way for companies to transfer a big chunk of overhead costs to employees while looking like they’re kind and caring and wonderful employers. Which, to be fair, is often true–a lot of people would gladly eat the cost in order to get the benefits. But I think a portion of this push toward WFH is derived from companies looking to increase their margins, and if you put it that way, I doubt the response to WFH would be as apparently-overwhelmingly positive. At the very least I think we’d have a more realistic conversation about the pros and cons.

            I also disagree that there’s no threat to losing traditional offices. We have. We went from real offices to cubicles, and from cubicles to “open spaces”, and now from open spaces to hot-desking. Okay, yes, you’re still going from home to some other location to work, but there’s a HUGE difference between an office with a door and a hot-desk where you have no permanent location. Again, it’s all been done to save overhead. But there have been real costs, as study after study have shown. Every time we do this work spaces become more and more damaging to our mental health and to productivity.

            1. Lalaroo*

              But if you compare WFH to the already-damaging hotdesking and open offices, I feel like WFH is in almost every case going to be less damaging to our mental health and productivity.

        2. Come On Eileen*

          You’re so right. My company keeps sending out rah-rah emails along the lines of “hey, you told us how productive and engaged you are in this new remote environment. Keep it up!” And I’m over here like “did you not hear ME? I’m completely disengaged and it’s been super hard on my productivity.” They seem to only share the good and only really hear the people who love WFH.

        1. James*

          Studies done during the honeymoon phase will be inherently biased, though, due to the nature of that honeymoon phase. It’s like asking folks 6 months into their marriage how likely they are to get a divorce–they will necessarily under-estimate their odds. Once the dust settles and WFH becomes routine and mundane we’ll get a more accurate picture of who it really does work for. The little annoyances start to pile up, and folks who thought they’d never go back to the way things were will start viewing offices with rose-colored nostalgia glasses.

          And remember, the employee isn’t the only one in this equation. It’s still an open question if routine WFH is effective for the company. Again, this is the honeymoon phase, and many of us have no choice; we’re going to make it work. In a year or two the story will be different. We won’t be as willing to work to make this arrangement work just to save the company some overhead.

          1. J.E.*

            I think it may also be the type of work most people are doing in the modern world. If you feel chained to a desk you’ll feel that way whether you’re at home or at an office. I started feeling that way at home like I did at the office. Location is only part of the issue. If I’m not happy with what my job actually IS I may like some aspects of working from home, but it won’t totally make up for the fact that I plain don’t like having to sit at a desk all day, but my other choices are retail/food service/manual labor and I’m a fairly small person with not a lot of physical strength.

          2. Lalaroo*

            I mean, again – what are offices? Are you talking about hotdesking, open offices, cubicles, or private offices with doors? Because I seriously doubt that the people who are currently hotdesking (or were pre-pandemic) are going to prefer that over working from home.

            Have you every hotdesked? I did for maybe eight months, and having to put all of your equipment and everything on your desk into a little locker every day was really irritating. And not knowing where you would sit was unpleasant, not knowing where others were sitting tamped down on the “just running over to ask a quick question” that people often point to as one of the good things we lose when we WFH, being unable to have any kind of decor on your desk unless you also carted that back and forth from your locker every day made us feel even more like interchangeable cogs in a machine.

            WFH doesn’t just “save companies some overhead,” it also is a lot more comfortable and preferable for a lot of people who are hotdesking or in open offices.

            Also I disagree with your premise that this past pandemic year has been a true “honeymoon phase.” If anything you might expect people to be MORE eager to go back to the office, to make a clean break from the traumatic last eighteen months.

      2. Batty Twerp*

        Reinvent the concept by killing the open office and I will skip back into the building waving ribbons!
        For me, it is this factor above all else that makes hybrid so attractive. I NEED to be able to work ANYWHERE but in the same space as three other departments.

    2. sofar*

      I’m the same. I do NOT have a great WFH situation and, when they sent the survey around, I stated I want to work in an office 3-5 days a week.

      But, on my team, those of us who are going back are getting some annoyance from those who want everyone to stay remote. Most of our leadership wants to stay remote (and a lot of them have already vacated the state), and some of us want to go back to the office at least a few days a week. Now that some of us are commuting again, we’ve asked that the 9 a.m. standup get moved back to 10 (like it was pre-COVID), because our city has notoriously long commutes, and starting right at 9 is tricky. And you would think we’re ruining everyone’s lives.

      There’s also been pushback, as our team’s leadership has now grown accustomed to asking people “let’s jump on Zoom real quick!” while we’re all from home. And that’s going to be less possible in an office, when meeting space is scarce and must be reserved in advance — and we can’t just all jump on video in a shared space. Now, certain parties are worried that would make our team less “nimble.” Like, sorry Karen, but if you need to move the sync AGAIN, I need to make sure there’s a meeting room free at the time you move it to!

  64. NewYork*

    During the pandemic, my office moved to smaller space, and changed from cubicles (bad enough) to open space, with hot desking. Top people can reserve office space. Some people who used to have offices will not be able to reserve in new space. Rank and file begged for redesign (build out had not started), firm insisted on open space. I have much more comfortable space at home, as do many others. Why would they think people want to come back. “Leadership” keeps saying how great space is — lounge areas, etc. But working space is a big step down.

  65. Alexis Rosay*

    Very curious about people who are die-hard WFH-ers–do you worry at all that it will impact your career trajectory over the next few years?

    There’s a big difference between 100% WFH when the whole company is remote, and 100% WFH in a hybrid situation. In a hybrid work situation, I’ve read studies that people who WFH get fewer promotions and raises–a bit of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. I have several friends who are concerned about this and opting to go back full time in person despite long commutes.

    With that said, I know I’d rather have a good work-life balance than extra promotions and raises. I’m just curious how others are approaching this.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Very curious about people who are die-hard WFH-ers–do you worry at all that it will impact your career trajectory over the next few years?

      I’ve come out of my last few interviews feeling unqualified to even flip hamburgers, so it’s hard to imagine *how* remote work can make that worse. Before the pandemic, asking a prospective employer to match my current remote work status quo was a dealbreaker a few times over the years. Since the pandemic, no one’s batted an eye over where I would perform the work, but experience requirements have gone up at least 100% for a lateral move, so it hasn’t been the clean win I might have thought it would be.

      My current employer seems to be pretty good about avoiding the whole “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon, and I’ve been repeatedly told that I’m part of the reason why (though I have doubts as to how literally I should take that assertion).

    2. citygirl*

      I think you’re probably right and for me that was a moment of clarity that I no longer care about moving up the ladder. I don’t! I make enough money now to support me, I don’t care about a promotion – for what? I’d work harder and longer hours for more money, which is used to compensate me psychologically for the fact that I now work more. I’ve spent the last 1.5 years figuring out my priorities here. I’m not judging anyone who DOES care about moving up the corporate ladder if that’s something inspiring and meaningful for them, or a step they need to be able to support themselves and their families. I am only speaking for myself here.

      It reminds me of a time I talked to my therapist about how frustrated I was that I couldn’t progress on my 5K running time without injuring myself. And she asked me “Is progressing on your 5K running time something that’s important to you?” And I swear to you, it was like a bolt of lightning. I do not care about getting faster at a 5K, it was just something I thought I was Supposed To Do.

      I would happily and knowingly trade off career advancement in exchange for the free time and comfort and flexibility of WFH. All I ask for is to have more opportunities in our job market to do that.

    3. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Cubicle Land was pretty up front about being a no corporate ladder dead end job unless you have the same last name as important people. So yeah hasn’t effected my career trajectory.

    4. lilsheba*

      Hasn’t affected my opportunties at all. I hadn’t even been at this job a year when I was offered a promotion and a raise, all while wfh. Works great for me!

    5. Spooncake*

      I’m not especially interested in moving up the ladder, to be honest- I’m disabled in a way that’s made worse by stress, and having tried management I know now that it’s not for me. Between the disability and the knowledge that I’m a better back-office nerd than a leader, I feel like putting my health first by working remotely is probably the right decision.

  66. Lalaroo*

    I have a theory:

    The work world has in the past benefitted extroverts much more than introverts. Therefore, higher-level positions such as CEO are disproportionately occupied by extroverts.

    Extroverts are much more likely to feel like working in the office is best as compared to introverts. Therefore, many companies that should have learned that flexibility is possible and productive are instead going back into the office full-time, because they are led by people whose personal work-style preferences are collaborative, conversational, and dependent on seeing other people in person.

    That’s my theory, anyway. It’s also something I think of every time someone says they want to go back to the office because they miss seeing their coworkers. As someone who worked in a role where we were allowed to have three days a week from home if we wanted, I know that when that flexibility is used by employees the office becomes very quiet, since on any given day 50%+ are not there. I wonder if that way of being in the office will be satisfactory to the extroverts who are wanting an in-person option.

    1. Allypopx*

      I dunno, I work for an introvert-heavy company that’s dying to go back because in person meetings are simply more productive for the kind of work we do and everyone misses the office snacks.

      I also in general find the introvert/extrovert battle to be a little oversimplified in most cases.

      1. KHB*

        Far too oversimplified. Being an introvert does not mean shunning any and all human contact.

        …although, Lalaroo may be onto something in that at particular employers where the office culture strongly favors extraverts, introverts maybe are more likely to want to work from home. But when the introverts are the ones running the show, it’s another matter.

        1. elle*

          It’s *because* I’m an introvert that I don’t want a fully 100% remote job right now (I’m aiming for 1-2 days a week in-office). I don’t socialize much at all in casual settings and I basically never initiate a social activity of any kind. I do, however, long for little bit of human contact. The office cafeteria/water cooler serves just perfectly to get me a little social interaction without having to be truly friends or invite people over to my house or some other horrifyingly stressful situation.

          1. allathian*

            I’m an introvert, but a chatty one to be sure. Introversion isn’t the same as social anxiety, it’s just that most of the time, spending time with other people leaves me drained, and if I have a two-day in-person professional conference, I need to schedule PTO for the day after, unless it’s the weekend, because I’m so exhausted afterwards that I’m not fit to work.

            That said, when I met some friends at an outdoor restaurant a few weeks ago, I was amazed to note that I was actually energized rather than drained by the experience. But these were good friends, not work acquaintances or strangers.

    2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      I’m an introvert who’s not in a particularly high-level position, but but I do work that benefits from being collaborative and conversational. The parts of my work that require fully independent work go more smoothly in a WFH setting, but most things that require interaction and collaboration are exhausting and unpleasant in their remote version. I spend a heck of a lot of time getting talked over, which doesn’t happen in person. We waste a lot of time not being able to gather around a whiteboard to illustrate complex concepts. We seldom have cameras on so it’s that much more difficult to read the room, which creates all sorts of issues.

      I’m as beyond fed up with this as I am with people reducing this to an introvert/extrovert difference. Not every introvert works or wants to work in a job that requires little interaction and collaboration.

      1. Flower necklace*

        Agreed. I’m an introvert who prefers to collaborate in person. Electronic communication is fine for quick questions, but it’s easier for me to see and interact with people for things that require more depth. I also enjoy the small, spontaneous conversations that pop up during the work day. They really help me connect to my coworkers. Those don’t happen nearly as often when we’re remote.

        When work ends, I go home and get my quiet, alone time to recharge. But I still enjoy seeing people during the day.

    3. Chris*

      I’m an extrovert who significantly prefers working from home. It gives me more time to spend with the people I actually want to socialize with. Sure, I count some coworkers and former coworkers among friends, but for the most part work has never been where I find my social outlets. Arguable, I’m the first to duck out of a work social activity so I can go do something of my own choosing.

    4. Lalaroo*

      I tried to be really careful to say things like “disproportionately” and “more likely” and “many,” but it seems like many commenters read my comment as saying “All introverts want to work from home full-time and all extroverts want to work in person.”

      Just to be clear, that’s not what I was saying. Nor was I saying being an introvert means shunning all human interaction. Nor was I saying that the type of job you do has no impact on whether you want to be in-person or not. I was expressing my thought about a very high-level general trend, not stating a bright-line rule.

      I also tried to limit it to companies that did not require in-person work, or do highly-collaborative work that benefits from being in-person, by saying “many companies that should have learned that flexibility is possible and productive are instead going back into the office full-time” — which I intended to mean “companies where work can be done well and productively from home and have no pressing business reason for being in-person are still going back into the office because of the preferences of the usually-extroverted senior leadership.”

      I apologize for my lack of clarity, and for angering some of you by mentioning general differences between introverts and extroverts in a way you found reductive.

  67. alienor*

    I just left my job for a new, fully remote one for this exact reason. I don’t mind going into an office occasionally for a big event, like an all-company meeting, but I really have no interest in being required to come in on a set schedule, even if it’s only a couple of days a week.

  68. citygirl*

    Work is just work, to me. That’s the main takeaway not just from WFH but from this entire pandemic and, frankly, the years leading up to it. I don’t care about my career. I do not care at all about making “work friends” with coworkers. I get zero spiritual satisfaction from what I do (and yes, I am a top performer). I simply do not care about labor. I care about my health and my partner and having free time to pursue hobbies and simply lay on the grass at the park at 5:01 PM. Being able to work out on my lunch break and cook all of my own meals helped me lose 20 pounds last year. I have more time to simply be, with my thoughts. I have been able to save tremendous amounts of money because I no longer mindlessly consume as much (I think Adorno was the one who tied consumption to the 40 hour work week – you’re so starved for time that you buy things for that little burst of serotonin). My partner and I now have a goal of continuing to WFH, squirreling away as much money as we can, until we are able to move abroad and purchase a home in a country that has socialized healthcare. At that point I will have accomplished the primary task that my life’s money was ever for, and I can be a waitress to pass the time if I want, for beer money. I just cannot keep doing this anymore, its all meaningless and soul-deadening and anti-human to me. At least let me do my work in my own environment, with my loved ones and pets nearby instead of coworkers I don’t care about, eating my own food instead of whatever is near my desk, wearing comfortable clothes. None of this was ever worth it, to me. I won’t go back.

    1. Chris*

      Here! Here! I feel the same. I even work in the social sector in a job a love, for a cause I care deeply about. Yet at the end of the day, I work to make enough money to enjoy my life and that’s it. I also am sick of reading articles about how employees want more than a salary, they want “engagement and meaning”. That may be true, but I want to make what I deserve and telling me that I should find meaning in my work just annoys me.

  69. Anon for this*

    It really depends on the job. I have always used the hybrid option as a manager – I only had a few people who couldn’t telework at all due to the nature of their jobs.

    But the number of people now clamoring for full time WFH who point to how productive they’ve been over the past year don’t see the things that haven’t been done, or where they relied on the small number of people in the office to do things for them. They also don’t understand that the reason they WFH full time was because many of their stakeholders were also WFH, but that is now changing.

    Yes, I have a couple tell me if I don’t let them WFH full time they will quit. It will be a pain to replace them and train someone new, but it will be necessary.

    1. elle*

      Why not just consolidate the things that *must* be done on-site into a single job or two and specifically hire for those, rather than losing a good chunk of your team because you are requiring all of them to be in-office?

  70. 100% supporter of remote work*

    It is more than working in pajamas! As the only Black employee at my company, I do not miss the toxic microaggressions. I do not miss feeling invisible despite being the darkest person in the room. I do not miss the mental health attacks every day. I excel at my job without the unnecessary workplace BS. So, yes, eliminate commuting…make my own lunch (save money)…and wearing leisurewear OVER going into a hostile work environment. I dread when we must go back. I am happier, healthier, and THRIVING.

    1. NewYork*

      Thank you so much for sharing that perspective. I am of course sorry for the hostility you have suffered, and I hope I do better. I have had staff assigned to me while working remote, and have no idea of their race. I can see now how that can work to everyone’s advantage.

    2. Yayaya*

      Yass! I so do not miss reviewing my calendar first thing in the morning to see who was going to be on the office for meetings, solely to determine how to do my hair. Heavy leadership days meant slick it down, pull it back, or face cute comments about how “wild” and “brave” it is to wear my hair natural. I have now gone almost 18 months without hearing that particular line of bull, and it’s probably added a year to my lifespan in lowered stress, and dollars to my bottom line in being taken seriously instead of “brownly”.

  71. TimeTravlR*

    Thanks for this article. I am part of a team determining the future of work at my employer. This kind of anecdotal information is very helpful.

  72. nonethefewer*

    I wouldn’t quit over it, but I can’t imagine it coming up for me anyhow. Nearly our entire team was remote even before the pandemic, including my boss. Plus, we let the lease expire on our office building (it was conveniently up for renewal a few months ago), so even if someone was all “Must Be In Person”… like, where?

    Somewhat more importantly, I have a five-year-old child and there is no vaccine for children yet, so any employer trying to push “must be in person forever” would come up against the health of my child, and get wrecked.

  73. animaniactoo*

    The ONLY reason I will not jump on the “give me remote or I’m out the door” is because my company has been good to me in other ways, and I have a great pension plan which I am already fully vested in. While I want the remote flexibility, if I have to choose I want where I’m setup well for retirement even more than I want to WFH.

  74. Olive*

    I’m contemplating it.. we’re supposed to go back in September. For the past couple months our agency has been asking it’s employees how they feel about the return via surveys and the max have said they prefer to stay home, but at the end of the day they basically said, well that’s too bad, most of you have to come back because our image is more important. So now people are jumping ship and I’m here trying to figure out my finances so that I can follow suit.

  75. Jane Austin's Tea Cozy*

    I’ve worked from home for almost five years now, and watching the shift over the course of the pandemic has been fascinating. My partner started out hating wfh, then went to embracing a hybrid approach, and now wants permanent wfh. Prior to the pandemic his only commute was a ten minute walk, though we did move right before everything shut down and he had about two months of a twenty minute drive. His office hasn’t renewed their lease, and they’re planning on adopting a hybrid system, with permanent wfh for those who want it. All it took for my partner was figuring out how to set boundaries around his time and he’s come to really appreciate the flexibility. I suspect that, as some other comments have said, he’ll continue total wfh for a bit and then find a balance of some days in office, but who knows!

    I’m very much one of those who would find a new job rather than go into the office again. Working from home removes the awkward office politics, the brainstorming sessions that go nowhere, the small talk…it’s heaven. Zoom meetings suck, sure, but you know what’s worse? In person meetings. As other commenter have said, I don’t care about my job. It’s a job. I get no satisfaction from it, I don’t find it meaningful and given the option, I’d rather be doing anything else. Wfh, where I at least don’t have to deal with people telling me I look sick because I didn’t put on makeup or suggesting that I don’t smile enough during meetings, makes the necessity of labor bearable.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Zoom meetings suck, sure, but you know what’s worse? In person meetings.


      1. Curiouser and Curiouser*

        Yeah but I had SO many less in person meetings than zoom meetings. Now, any time someone wants 5 minutes of my time they throw 15 on my calendar rather than being able to just stop by my desk (yes, they could call. No, they don’t, because people are constantly worried about ‘interrupting’ no matter how much I tell them they don’t). My schedule is FULL of 15 minutes and 30 minutes blocked off that wouldn’t be there before.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Honestly, both scenarios sound like unproductive torture to me, but I’m sure there are those who thrive in one set of conditions or the other.

          1. Curiouser and Curiouser*

            I don’t disagree. We are one of those annoyingly ACTUALLY collaborative jobs that require a lot of discussion. There’s not a perfect system unfortunately.

  76. EchoGirl*

    (Apologies if this has been said, I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thread.)

    I think it’s worth noting that while it may not be as common, there are also people saying they’re going to quit if their offices decide to go fully remote permanently (by which I mean they’re literally switching to a model where remote is the only option, not offering people the choice to be fully remote). The current situation has shown that work from home is more possible than it was thought to be in many cases, but it’s also shown some people that working from home regularly (rather than once in a while when they need to be home for some reason) is really not for them — I have no real stake in this since I’m a freelancer, but I feel like my mother, for one, would probably quit her job if they went to permanent WFH; she’s made no secret that she’s been climbing the walls for the past year (and she has a separate workspace in the house, so that’s not the concern, she just hates working out of the house in general). I think this is another case of (as we’ve talked about on AAM before) recognizing that different people are sometimes going to want the exact opposite things, and it doesn’t make either side wrong, it just means that the key is flexibility rather than just switching from one absolute (everyone in the office) to another (everyone works from home). Hybrid isn’t necessarily the answer either as I feel like for some people it would be the worst of both worlds — still have to work from home some days and can’t even move out of the area to find a more conducive place they can afford because they still need to be able to commute in.

    * Just to be clear, I’m specifically referencing the question of what happens in the long term once we’re truly post-pandemic. This is separate from the issue of employers trying to rush people back in while there’s still a pandemic going on.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If that’s the case, hopefully everyone can win—the people who must have a WFH job can leave their jobs for fully remote companies, and the people who must have an in-the-office job can leave their jobs for fully in-office companies; and then rest of us can have a more hybrid/flexible model.

    2. elle*

      I would definitely look elsewhere if my team went 100% either way. The commute is over an hour, and it would be really silly given my current job description (absolutely no one that I work with is even in my state). However, I absolutely crave the social interaction/connection that comes with a little bit of time in the office. Maybe at some point in my career I would be happy 100% remote but that time is not now.

    3. Overeducated*

      My employer did a survey, and the overwhelming response was “we want flexibility to work where we want, when we want.” I suppose that’s the ideal for everyone….

  77. Stephanie*

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so I’m not sure this has been raised but it will be interesting in large companies to see if groups that don’t offer remote lose employees to do. I work for a very large global corporation. My role is still remote but I anticipate being hybrid long term. Out of curiosity, I was recently looking at our job and noticed a lot of similar roles to mine are listed as remote or optional remote. While I don’t intend to change roles right now, it does open a lot more opportunities to leave if I can stay with the same company and live in my same city.

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      Our office is 100% in person, and has been for the whole pandemic. Staff that is out in the field (contractors), we have no problem staffing those positions. But we have a few gaps in the office where people left for remote or hybrid work, and we’re having a VERY hard time filling them.

  78. Wendy*

    You know we don’t all actually work in our pjs right? I am sure no offense meant. However I think it would benefit us all to stop acting as though those that WFH are constant slackers who dont want to brush thier hair. I get ready every day. I am not AS dressed up as I I used to be ,(same as those in the office currently) . But I’m presentable. All that’s missing is the commute.

    1. Infosecretariat*

      +1. There’s too many people who already think we’ve all been slacking off and streaming Netflix all day. (I get so irked every time I see someone on social media or various online forums/blogs saying “Get back to work, snowflakes!” We’ve been working all along.)

      I’ve only worked in my PJs once in the past 18 months. I was recovering from a stomach bug or food poisoning, I was exhausted, and I would have taken an additional sick day but I was critically needed in a specific meeting. Delaying & rescheduling would have meant a major deadline was missed.

    2. New Job So Much Better*

      Same. Same grooming as before, jewelry, light makeup, etc. Just more comfortable clothes.

    3. Spooncake*

      There’s also some low-key ableism in the assumptions people make. People with disabilities that make work clothes uncomfortable or difficult to put on might very well work in their PJs! Doesn’t stop them doing a good job.

  79. Meep*

    Add me to that list too, though I had that realization in 2011 rather than now. There’s no way anyone could get me into an office now. I had a brief foray into cubicle-land about 3 years ago for a contract job, but I only had to go into the office once a week, and I would not have taken the job if it was more than that.

    I am a lawyer, all of my work is basically sitting at a desk typing at a computer, and there’s really no reason that I need to be wasting my time or burning fossil fuels to be sitting at a desk in an office building instead of sitting at a desk in my home office. Besides, my home office contains an extremely helpful cat.

    1. q*

      As another lawyer, I completely agree. (My clients also actually love meeting via Zoom or phone, instead of having to come in to the office in person to see me.)

  80. Just Another Zebra*

    A bit late to comment, but I think the reason so many people find permanent WFH appealing (and I am speculating, as someone who was in-person the entire pandemic with my nose pressed to the proverbial glass as my friends all set up home offices in their PJs) is the flexibility. I personally wouldn’t love to work from my living room or spare bedroom every day, but I’d love for it to be an option if my kid gets sick, or my chronic condition flares up, or there are six inches of snow on the ground. I actually enjoy the socialization of being around my coworkers, and there are benefits to working together in a single space.

    But I think the rigidity we saw pre-pandemic with the “butts in seats” mentality is going to have to adjust, if they want to stay open with competent staff. Even if it is just a hybrid approach.

    1. J.E.*

      I liked the flexibility of doing things like go to the grocery store on my lunch break or quickly take care of an easy household task like throw on a load of laundry or start the dishwasher. It was nice to not have all that stuff waiting for me when I got home from work .

  81. Mannheim Steamroller*

    On a related note:

    Might some companies decide that fully remote employees will no longer be considered for promotions or raises? (Would that even be legal?)

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It’s most likely legal. Remote/on-site is not a protected class and no employee is entitled to raises or promotions. It’d be stupid and do more harm to the company than good, and would probably prompt an exodus of the remote employees, but it’d be legal.

      1. Mannheim Steamroller*

        Just to clarify:

        (1) I never meant to suggest that “no promotions for remote workers” might be a “good” idea. We know that it’s an awful idea, but some managers might not know that.

        (2) Obviously, that couldn’t apply to employees who work remotely as an ADA accommodation.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I’m thinking there might also arise issues if the onsite/remote split aligns with a demographic that is protected; e.g. if 90% of the POC go remote, or if 90% of the female-presenting employees go remote, a policy that aligns strongly with “employees of color are ineligible for raises” or “female employees are ineligible for promotions” is going to be very challenging to defend legally (and rightfully so!).

  82. LikesToSwear*

    I’m the opposite. I prefer working in the office, around other people, the majority of the time. If my job went completely WFH, I’d be looking for a new job that was not remote.

    In fact, it’s only been fairly recent that my employer has removed capacity restrictions, and I’ve been coming in more often than once a week. I am noticing improvements in my mental health already.

    1. my2cents*

      I’m glad that going back to the office has been good for you. As long as you don’t expect your colleagues with a personal preference for WFH to have to attend the office purely to meet your personal preference for working from the office, there won’t be a problem.

  83. RemoteForMe*

    I really enjoy reading all of these opinions and view points (for the record, only been doing wfh since the pandemic but am looking for a new job due to being forced to return to the office because many of the managers don’t like working in partially empty offices, which company doesn’t rent, they own the real estate).

    Every time I read one of these types of articles I’m reminded that in the past most of us had little choice about doing work this one particular way, going in to physical offices with other people. But now it’s like we’ve woken up and seen we don’t have to conform, just because some people enjoy it or think we should. It’s scary and liberating at the same time.

    Good on the companies and managers who are addressing this seismic change thoughtfully. Those who recognize *all* preferred work styles will hopefully profit and flourish!

  84. J.E.*

    I’m kind of jealous of all these people that could just quit and have a new fully remote job lined up that pays double what they were making. I’m like how?! I guess I don’t have the skillset these people do. Were they all updating their skills during WFH? I can see how they were able to do virtual interviews from home because there’s no sneaking around their current workplace to duck out for interviews and such. I look at jobs but don’t really have the skillset for most jobs that are remote. My current line of work, libraries, can be doable in part from home, but unless you’re working with only electronic resources there’s a lot that can’t be done remotely, like anything involving physical materials. I’m not highly technical I have “library tech” knowledge, but not the type of knowledge my husband has for things like coding. I feel like I should have spent all my remote work time learning new skills, but I was also on the clock and having to do my actual job and then I didn’t feel like being stuck to a desk after hours. If I just resigned because I couldn’t work from home I might be without a job for a lot longer than planned and I don’t have a lot in savings to tide me over for years or even months.

    1. elle*

      I think maybe you are confusing your specific experience with your general skills. I would bet good money that with your line of work you have tons of skills that are transferrable to WFH jobs if you step back and think about them big-picture — data management, communication, organization, etc. And it’s a market in the job-seekers’ favor! If you’re interested, it might be worth doing a resume review and trying to branch out.

      1. J.E.*

        This is a reply I left further up the post, but applies here too. I think I may be feeling like I’m stuck to a desk. I started feeling that way at home like I did at the office. Location is only part of the issue. If I’m not happy with what my job actually IS I may like some aspects of working from home, but it won’t totally make up for the fact that I plain don’t like having to sit at a desk all day, but my other choices are retail/food service/manual labor and I’m a fairly small person with not a lot of physical strength.

    2. Me*

      Yeah, I find this whole discussion fascinating because I’m a librarian — and while I can do about 2/3 of my job from home, that last 1/3 is just integral to the job and absolutely cannot be done from home. …And I’m one of the most able to work from home among our staff, since I’m in charge of things like social media, our website, and our monthly newsletter.

      The clerks especially can’t do much from home — I know a number of them were utterly sick of watching training webinars by the time our three months of full remote was over last year. (Now, I will say my boss never even considered firing everyone and everyone got paid through remote, I think the clerks were just bored out of their skulls, and I can’t blame them for that at all.)

      I also find the whole discussion of hotdesking fascinating because, uh, we do that by default. There are eight computers on the virtual network at my library, and I have logged into at least six of them this year alone, possibly seven, I can’t remember.

      But then again, libraries occupy a weird intersection of spaces where we’re white collar but also customer service. So it can be odd sometimes.

      I’m lucky I guess that I seem to be doing better emotionally when I physically go to work, though the occasional work from home day can be great. Ideally I would probably do best in a hybrid, but, well, I’ve chosen this career and in person work is one of the ways it works. But yeah, if you want to be working from home, I’m sure there are ways to leverage your skills!

  85. JelloStapler*

    I think a lot of people (at least in the US) are so fed up with low pay, lack of vacation and awful benefits that WFH is the thing they’re holding on to.

    1. JelloStapler*

      FWIW, my job isn’t really one you could permanently do from home unless you worked for an online university… Which often has its own perils.

  86. CouldntPickAUsername*

    not my personal experience but gathered from reading a lot of responses of both sides of this, I think the main thing that employers need to stop doing is being vague. ‘we’re announcing the plan later’ ‘there’s been rumblings’ ‘it’s undecided right now’ ‘we don’t know’

    employers need to put up or shut up. Let people know what’s happening, or at least what’s intended, but stringing people along with a promise of maybe WFH that a lot of them probably have no intention on delivering is honestly just a crappy way to act.

    1. mediamaven*

      The rules and recommendations keep changing which is why employers haven’t been able to have concrete details. Also, we’re trying to figure out if the arrangement can work long term. Some people are doing fine remote and others aren’t. No one is intentionally trying to be crappy.

      1. CouldntPickAUsername*

        I dunno I’ve seen more than a few stories of people being strung along with ‘maybe hybrid or something’ and then getting nothing that it feels like some out there are definitely baiting and switching.

  87. Yayaya*

    One complication I’m not seeing much press or discussion on is planning childcare & schooling around this time of uncertainty. Some daycares only offer 5 days a week contracts, many have a surcharge/higher daily rate for smaller weekly commitments. And not all schools and children’s programs are opening 100% onsite this Fall, so many parents HAVE TO continue to WFH, or have to maintain the option until schools decide what they’re doing.

    And when there’s a Delta wave and a school or daycare closes again? Parents are right back to where they were last Spring; reacting on the fly instead of mindfully planning & preparing a reliable schedule to lessen stress on the whole family and their employer

  88. photon*

    My view is that:

    1) We don’t know what remote work will look like long term. Surviving on pre-pandemic relationships doesn’t tell you how an all-remote company will perform 10 years from now.

    2) If your job can be done remotely, it’s an easy target for outsourcing. I’ve seen a lot more outsourcing happen in tech, including cases that resulted in severe quality degradation.

    I’d like to go all-remote, but I think I’m going to watch how that trend plays out for a while first.

    1. Surprised*

      Regarding your second point, that’s also why many companies have had to reverse outsourcing/offshoring of jobs. The work may have been cheap, but it was also unsellable.

    2. allathian*

      Yup. One reason why I’m happy to work for the government, it’s actually illegal to employ non-citizens for much of what we do for national security reasons. For some jobs being an EU-citizen is enough, but not all.

  89. J.B.*

    I used to prefer working from the office and really worked on focusing at home early in the pandemic. There are some things about our work that are hard fully remote but with an employer willing to be flexible we’ve all settled to hybrid. Unfortunately my husband’s employer is being very resistant to hybrid work which puts more scheduling burdens back on me thanks so much employer who didn’t provide a laptop for working from home!

  90. Allura Vysoren*

    I’m going to be one of these people as soon as I find a fully remote position. My company announced a hybrid schedule, but it really just made me feel worse. There are tons of restrictions, our department head refers to working from home as “being off”, and there’s pressure for us to work with the rest of the department to “provide coverage in the office.” There’s nothing TO cover in the office. There are no phones to answer, nothing to print, nothing to mail, no in-office contacts that require in-person meetings. We were never given a reason for us being forced back (during the height of COVID no less) other than “it’s our culture.”

  91. Despachito*

    I see a huge potential in WFH in striking the right balance between work and personal life.

    I started remote when my first child was born, and have managed both being able to work the whole time and care for the kids without a babysitter (where I am from you can have up to 4 years of paid maternity leave, which is awesome but it also means that it is more difficult for you to return to work after such a long pause). Hubby was willing to chip in but for his profession WFH was not an option by that time.

    It meant I did not have problems to be with the kids in person, with the children’s doctors, staying home with them when they were sick etc. AND at the same time I was able to do the work I love. For me, almost an ideal combination, but it was because my profession was one of the rare ones allowing this.

    I think one of the positive outcomes of COVID would be that more parents will get a similar chance, and the caregiving responsibilities would be more evenly distributed between them.

    1. Meep*

      Yup. I’m finding that the optimal balance of work to nonwork for me is about 3-4 hours of work a day. This way, I get to spend plenty of time with my kid and my elderly parents, homeschool the kid, do some hobbies, talk to my friends, maintain my fitness, and just generally have a life. My spouse and I run a law practice together, and neither one of us works full-time. When COVID hit, all our full-time working friends were scrambling for childcare, and we just slightly adjusted our working hours and were basically fine.

      I wouldn’t go back to full-time work for any amount of money.

  92. Delia K*

    I didn’t think it was something I’d quit over – I like my job, the work is meaningful, I feel like I’m well compensated, and I like my coworkers – but today I asked my manager if I’m permanent work from home so that I could request a docking station…and he said ‘no I don’t think so’ which upset me more than I was expecting. I resisted switching to work from home (I had roommates at the time in a small apartment) but after a year and a half of it, I don’t want to go back.

  93. Ocean of Ramen*

    I moved from an inflexible “butts in seats” job to a hybrid job that’s perfect for me. Parts of my job require being in office (seeing patients in a healthcare setting) but I’m allowed to do the rest of my work (charting, research, etc) from home. My husband went 100% WFH. It means our kids have to share a room so that we have a dedicated office space but the tradeoff is being home for them at the end of the school day.

  94. Nacho*

    I take the bus. Between leaving early to make sure I never miss the bus, time walking to the bus stop, time for the bus to take a roundabout indirect route to my stop, and time walking from the bus stop, my 3 mile commute was over half an hour each way. I’m not saying I’d never go back to the office, but it’s a very, VERY big perk for me, which I’m willing to trade a lot for.

  95. Papa Bear*

    Right now I believe a lot of employers are trying to get their people back in the office. We are doing that, but with a hybrid model.
    But if enough people force the issue, and employers are forced to have a work from home component, those people better be ready to compete on the world stage. Because, those employees will quickly become subcontract positions, and those subcontract gigs will quickly go overseas, without the hassles and expense of cross state taxes, and the regulations of employment. Like they say, be careful what you wish for, you might actually get it.

    1. Surprised*

      I don’t understand why this is the retort that is continuously trotted out as a rebuttal to working from home policies. It is not going to happen in most roles. Offshoring has been reversed many times, including for call centre jobs, let alone the white collar roles. Time zones, language barriers, differing qualifications, security, customer expectations, location, the economy…many critical issues come into play here.

    2. J.B.*

      So can you tell me how you measure performance? Did your employees working from home meet their targets? Are there specific problems you ran into with remote work?

      Many larger firms are already global. If working with someone on another continent, I’m not sure how being in the office (especially in a cube) provides any benefits over taking that call from home.

  96. Sam Foster*

    Not sure why this is so difficult for employers to understand: I’ve proven that I can do the job remotely with better work/life balance without the commute so employer needs to trust me to know when to come in to the office. Full stop.
    Do I realize I’m lucky that my job allows this? YES! Do I feel bad that some people have jobs that require being in a specific building for a specific period of time? YES! Do I object to people who want to be in the office 40+ hours a week? NO!
    Micromanagement, real estate costs, etc. aren’t sufficient rationale.

    1. Sam Foster*

      From the linked article: “I would be looking for another job if I were told I could not come into work. A day here or there isn’t too bad. But … I have a studio apartment and it’s not big enough for me to not see my work setup everywhere I go so work just haunts me at home. I’d have to buy a home or rent an absurdly larger than I want space to make it work.”
      No is trying to stop people from returning to the office, why should we ALL have to come back based on this particular preference?

      1. KHB*

        No, that’s not true. A lot of employers are preventing people from returning to the office – by either getting rid of or vastly downsizing their physical office space. A lot of times, the rationale is purely financial, but sometimes it’s covered with a veneer of “being a good employer by giving employees what they want.” It’s a worrisome trend for those of us who actually prefer doing our work in a space outside our homes.

  97. Remotedemi*

    A huge worry if mine is once employers see positions can be done remotely- what will stop them from moving to a cheaper labor force outside the US? Genuinely asking. Nearly most of my positions could easily be moved to Indian, Ukraine

    1. allathian*

      In some fields maybe. If they work directly with customers, not so much, because most members of the public can’t understand what they’re saying. Many companies have tried outsourcing and decided to stop because the quality of the service wasn’t good enough.

  98. Lizzie*

    I haven’t seen it discussed very much, but in speculating about the future of a ‘work from home’ world – how long before employers fully realise they can have people working from home IN ANOTHER COUNTRY for half the wages? We have seen how call centres were easily moved overseas. What prevents or permits this becoming much more widespread? Globally, it provides much needed work for people in other countries; locally, of course we still want work to stay here.

    Here in Australia, domestic violence has significantly increased while people have been in lockdown. And of course not being physically in the workplace has enabled some people to get away from harassment from coworkers.

    It is clear that the vast burden of childcare and supervising/supporting home schooling is having an impact disproportionately on women, who have had to add this workload onto their own work from home roles – this is having a big impact on physical and mental health, and the impact may become chronic.

    Will employers continue to pay for that layer of management that traditionally was staffed with people who were moved ‘up’ because they were no good at their jobs and who subsequently had no real work to do, other than ‘supervision’ and meetings for meetings’ sake?

    So many things are in a state of flux – we really are living in a time of great change – and as always there is money to be made by those who prioritise it. Maybe, with communication being so much easier now and with so many more voices having the opportunity to be heard, we can move towards a more fair work world.

    I think that sites like this one have enormous value in exchange of ideas and viewpoints!

    1. my2cents*

      I’m in Australia, too. Sadly, many countries have seen domestic violence spike, but our federal government have spent all their years in power stripping away funding for essential services. So here we all are.

      We’ve also seen call centres moved back from overseas due to critical issues like customer satisfaction, security, etc. Same for skilled work: it’s been moved back onshore due to issues with the quality of the work, language barriers, time zones, customer satisfaction, etc.

      Getting rid of that layer of management populated by terrible, toxic people who couldn’t manage a chook raffle would be an excellent development. I am sick to death of hearing that people can’t be managed remotely, because it is not true. The most effective manger I’ve ever worked with was based in Canada, with me and most of the rest of the team in Australia. Even with the time zone difference, there were zero issues.

  99. Anna*

    I work in a highly creative and collaborative industry. Our eventual “return to the office plan” is a set 2 days per week, for most of the collaborative meetings and social time. While still being flexible for sick kids and deliveries.

    While I would prefer that brainstorm meetings be remote as it works better for introverts like myself, at least it makes sense.

    I just switched jobs 3 weeks ago, because the toxic culture was blamed on the remote work and never dealt with. Leadership kept punting making an actual decision on remote, return or hybrid. The idea of seeing some of my coworkers in person just because they were unwilling to communicate or treat others with respect was not something I was willing to do.

  100. my2cents*

    Pre-pandemic, it was getting to the point where I was going to have to quit my job without having anything else lined up because of factors including the general toxicity, the fact I was never paid on time, and the fact I was being illegally underpaid.

    The one thing that has kept me from quitting my current job is that I have been working remotely, and various lockdowns have put the kibosh on the toxic upper manager’s plan to pointlessly haul all of us back into the office despite the fact we are all far more productive at home. (He just wants to be entertained and is the number one problem when it comes to productivity: he does no actual work and spends his time distracting everyone.)

    I’m also much happier and more productive working at home. I have not missed the two to three hours every day I spend commuting, and I finally have something resembling a work/life balance, leaving me with the time and energy for my actual life, and my relationships. I do not ever want to work in an office again, and the only way I can see that changing is if I end up living alone at some point in the future (and even then, I doubt I would want to be in the office more than once or maybe twice a week, at most).

    I have been intermittently job hunting this whole time. I ended up turning down a role that sounded amazing when I found out they were hauling people into the office (illegally) despite the lockdowns. No, thanks.

    I am definitely pursuing roles with remote options going forward: it is an essential selling point for me.

    And, the moment I can, I will quit my current job.

  101. Onthetrain*

    Just, wow.
    I’ve been a regular reader of AAM for a few years, and I ^know^ the commentariat here skews in favour of ‘people who work in offices and do things on computers’, but I don’t think I’ve seen even one comment in four hundred and something (so far) that have even acknowledged what an incredibly privileged position you are in to have a job where you can work from home, even part of the time.
    Have you even stopped to think about the majority of the population who are doing jobs which cannot be done from home, which facilitate your doing so, who are often the lower end of the economic ladder, who have been infected/dying of covid in far higher numbers because they cannot work from home?
    Anyone who works from home full time is outsourcing their risk from Covid to the person who delivers the mail, the worker in a meat factory, the farm worker, the lorry driver, the nurse, the sewage plant worker, the water engineer, the broadband company rep, the childcare leader, the hospital cleaner. And when the home-workers do venture out, they need the waiter, the bus driver, the cloakroom attendant, the ticket checker, the ice-cream seller.
    Pre-Covid, I had a decent career in live entertainment (non-performer), but who knows when that’s coming back? My previous career wasn’t essential work as regards keeping people alive and fed, but there is a lot of feeling that the arts are essential to people’s well-being. All those Netflix shows and live-streamed theatre that everyone is watching are being made by people working in person. Sure, there have been a few highly successful zoom theatre collaborations, but they are a novel exception, no-one wants to continue consuming their arts that way.
    So just, check your privilege?

    1. J.B.*

      I understand how privileged I am, and I looked at working from home as reducing the risk to those who still had to be in person. I only tried grocery delivery once, mostly went at off times.

      Moving away from rears in seats will have big effects that we don’t understand yet. A few threads brought up gentrification. If you have a job that can mostly be done on computer it would be nice if the employer had a real reason for office time.

      1. Mannheim Steamroller*

        The only “real reason for office time” I’ve seen so far is that “We can’t micromanage you remotely.”

      2. J.B.*

        One other thing to add, the pandemic caused many moms to leave the workforce (statistically more moms than dads). Working from home with kids made me fortunate that I could do both. There are a lot of childcare and kids healthcare stuff with very limited slots that complicates going back to an office by a lot!!!

    2. Prison Tutor*

      I’m totally baffled by this reply. Why do people Working From an Office need none of the services above while people WFH need all of them? You mention a Bus Driver for instance, normally a WFO person commuting by bus would need to use a Bus at least 10 times a week to get to work, a WFH obviously much less, but the WFH person is endangering them but the WFO is not? Surely the WFO person endangers them much more?
      Also Postmen do not deliver to offices then? Often having to go into a Reception to hand over the post rather than using a letter box a long distance away from the WFO person (unless your office is in your hallway)
      Sewage Plant Worker? Really don’t undertand that one either? So the faeces from WFO people doesn’t need processing but WFH do?
      WFO don’t go out for lunch and use waiters?
      Meat factory workers? How on earth does a WFH person go anywhere near a Meat Factory Worker?
      I am a Key Worker working in a prison and I wholeheartedly support WFH TOTALLY. And don’t think it’s incredibly privileged at all in any way – thats Management talking

    3. KHB*

      “Outsourcing their risk” implies that people who work from home are increasing the risk of people who cannot, but that’s not how it works. It’s not like there are a fixed number of Covid cases to be divided up among the world, so that protecting yourself exposes others to greater risk. If anything, the opposite is true: When people who can stay home do stay home, they slow the spread overall, and they help reduce the risk for everybody. There’s nothing to be gained by unnecessarily exposing yourself to more Covid risk just to make things “fair.”

      Also, at least part, maybe most, of this discussion is about what kind of work-from-home arrangements people are going to want for themselves after the pandemic subsides. It’s not over yet, but eventually it will be.

    4. Jane Austin's Tea Cozy*

      This is kind of a weird take on this specific post. Not in general, necessarily–most of the people I know are essential workers and I’ve obviously not been singing the joys of wfh to them–but I’m not sure there’d be a ton of point to every comment on this article starting with a recognition of privilege. There’s definitely a conversation to be had about montarily recognizing the inconvenience of jobs that MUST be done in person and the skill they require, but a post specifically about wfh does not strike me as the place to have it.

      As someone who did not venture out at all during 2020 and who continues to not venture out as the delta wave floods the US, I kind of resent the implication that I’ve just been outsourcing the risk. I’ve done my level best to absent myself from the world completely to reduce that risk for essential workers. So has everyone else I know who wfh.

  102. Car Man*

    Toyota UK and Europe have announced that people who can, will work 2-3 days a week from home. This is a permanent adjustment from now on. The gains experienced in allowing WFH has been so marked that Toyota have actively incorporated it.
    And they are the most successful large motor manufacturer in the world. ‘Nuff said.

  103. KittenLittle*

    For those who have found a new job during the pandemic: What field do you work in? What is your age range? I was thinking of making a career change and trying to get away from my toxic workplace, but at 45, I think that would be a disaster!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      It’s never too late and you’re not too old to change jobs or fields (within reason).

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      So don’t work from home? I think post-pandemic (whenever that is) there will be plenty of “You must work in the office” places for you and others who hate working from home.

  104. MissDisplaced*

    I would quit over no WFH and have done so long before the Pandemic.
    I quit a job I loved because they moved to a fancy building in a busy downtown city. It was a nightmare to drive into the city, and super expensive to park and/or take a train into the city. Seriously, it was akin to losing $5k in salary… just to come into the office 5 days per week. I tried to make a reasonable compromise of coming in only 2-3 days/week and it was flat out refused because the CEO “wanted to build a culture.” Well, your culture SUCKS if you can’t be flexible or provide parking, or pay more to cover the expense of the city!

    Current job was more flexible, AGAIN until we moved into a new office (further away with a 2 hour daily commute) and because of the move, forced us into the office 4 days per week (no Monday or Friday off day). We’ve been WFH now since the Pandemic and if they force us back in to that schedule again, I will probably quit over it to an all-remote job, or at least find a job that is a closer commute if I do have to go into an office. I cannot bear the thought of spending 2 hours a day in my car driving anymore.

    I am just sick and tired of companies building or leasing expensive, fancy offices that the employees DID NOT ASK FOR or WANT and then forcing employees into it. Let’s face it, those offices are NOT for the employees flexibility or comfort, it’s for the company image and often to feed the CEO’s ego.

  105. AllPlayNoWork*

    Prior to COVID, I was in a role with my company which could have been done entirely remotely. However, my boss insisted that I needed to be in our office at least two days a week, “because it’s good to show your face.” So twice a week, I left the comfort of my home office and trudged through traffic to sit in a cube farm. Our cubes were not even traditional cubes which create a sense of privacy but were instead modern, low-wall cubes so you could easily see (and hear!) all other employees. While I have many wonderful coworkers, I hated working in the office: I hated the traffic, I hated not being able to control environmental factors such as temperature, I hated the overall cost involved between gas, forgetting lunch, etc. I changed roles this past year and am now working for someone who lives 3 hours from our corporate office and has signed off for any of our team to be fully remote. I will never take a role that requires me to be in the office again!

  106. J.E.*

    I think there is still a lot that remains to be seen with remote work and employers just haven’t had the time yet to fine tune it, but I do see some potential downsides. First, never underestimate some employers ability to be terrible. Micromanagers gonna micromanage whether that’s in person or remotely. I could see employers making remote employees install monitoring software on their computers, making them keep a log of what they do practically every minute, having virtual meetings at 4:30 on Fridays that are just thinly veiled ways of taking attendance and keeping tabs, not being sensitive to time zones (east coast employer requiring west coast employee to be in virtual meetings at 8 a.m. east coast time), etc. and not requiring these things of in person employees. That would stress me out more than working in the office if I was under constant surveillance in my own home. There might be some people who find they’re working a lot more than they did going to the office, even factoring in commute time. Some employers may think working from home is enough of a perk and not have good benefits, PTO and sick leave. Don’t get me wrong, I liked working from home, but I’m cautious enough to want to see how it pans out long term before jumping in.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      All of that still beats sitting in my car for 2 hours every day driving.
      AND all the expenses of gas, office appropriate clothes, lunches, etc.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think that’s just going to vary by company and manager. There are plenty of remote-only or remote-first companies that do not install monitoring software on their computers or make employees log every single minute of what they’re doing.

      1. J.E.*

        I think it that heavy monitoring will be an issue for companies that previously weren’t remote and have now decided to go fully remote. They haven’t had prior experience operating remotely and now if they will be doing so permanently, they may try and operate the way they were before. It’s going to take adaptation and employers understanding their employees are adults.

  107. madge*

    I’m currently job-searching because our administration has decided there are no exceptions. They specifically stated that not even for those of us with unvaccinated family members or those who have seen a dramatic increase in their quality of mental/physical health.

    We also have multiple job openings because people are leaving for hybrid or remote schedules elsewhere, and we’re receiving around 20% of the usual number of applications for our open positions. We have what is considered one of the best PTO/insurance packages in the entire region but the feedback from people we’ve attempted to recruit is that they won’t even consider it because of the policy against WFH. Bed.Made.Lie.

  108. Anonymous Today*

    Some people knocked the idea of what they referred to as spontaneous collaboration.

    Awhile back, I saw a CEO of an insurance company being interviewed on a business program. She said that she felt that it was important for people to be in the office because the kind of brainstorming that happens in person just can’t happen when everyone is working from home. She gave examples, such as someone running into a coworker in the hall and mentioning a problem and it turns out that the coworker has dealt with the same thing in the past or a coworker overhears that you are having an issue in a given situation and says they had that happen previously and this is how they resolved it.

    I had to agree with her. While her company does personal lines insurance and I used to work in commercial insurance, a lot of this sort of thing went on and it just would not have happened if we were working from home.

    However, I agree with people who work in an industry where everyone does their own work and there is no collaboration, where these types of interactions don’t occur, that it seems arbitrary to require people to be in an office.

  109. EasyPeasyLemonSqueezy*

    Been working from home since 2017. I will NEVER return to an office environment. Ever. When I left super toxic office job in 2016 I vowed to find something different, that would cater more to MY needs and what I needed in my life. It took a little time and I did turn down offers but I was able to hold out and land what worked. COVID was not an issue work-wise…. I was already 100% remote. I hope to stay with my employer for much much longer but if anything happens, I will reassess what I need and want and find what fits again, without returning to an office. Been there, done that, don’t miss it.

  110. Nancy Drew*

    We were all forced to return onsite F/T, me sooner than some others. I loved WFH and I also did hybrid two days a week and didn’t mind that. I spend two hours driving each day. I work in a cube with very little coworker interaction and certainly no collaboration or brain-storming as I’m the only one who does my type of work. Our CEO has assigned a task force to look into remote work “at some point.” I miss my home office with a window, the extra sleep, the peace and quiet. If that task force can’t figure it out fairly soon, I’m retiring in December. My quality of life declined and the frosting on the cake…I’m suffering from a bad head cold that’s being passed around the department. I’m over it.

  111. The Dogman*

    One of my customers is a pretty senior manager in a major UK bank (one of the biggest) and they are ending their rental office agreements, and the plan is to reduce office space to 20% of pre-covid levels.

    They are as, or in some depts more productive, and so the extra savings will be a bonus for the top managers stats.

    So I think WFH is here to stay, and will only increase!

  112. Jasmine M*

    My employer’s push to get everyone back in the office for “collaboration ” is the secondary reason that I am actively seeking a new remote job.
    First reason is that I am not permitted to learn who is unvaccinated that I will be sharing a tiny bathroom with. PLUS they didn’t warn anyone back in March when 2 workers who had Covid19 had come to work and coughed all over the facility.
    It feels like they just plain don’t care if one of us dies or is stricken with a permanent affliction. Or if our families live or die.

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