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As offices begin to reopen, most remote workers don't want to go back

Work From Home
Posted at 1:11 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 15:23:45-04

CHICAGO — If you're stressing about having to return back to the office, you’re not alone.

Recent studies show a large percentage of people don’t want to return to the office full time.

"I've got two young kids and pets, and I'm able to kind of take more time with them in the morning,” said Stephanie Bossmeyer, a human resources director who has been working from home the past year. "I can't believe the amount of time that I spent going to and from work."

Bossmeyer is fortunate. Her company is not pressuring employees to return to the workplace in the near future.

“It's been pretty successful, to be honest, and I think a lot of people feel that way,” said Bossmeyer.

As more people get vaccinated, the prospect of life returning to normal is exciting. While some employers are starting to consider having staff move back into the office, it’s something many teleworkers may be dreading.

“Any belief that we're returning back to normal is probably misplaced,” said Shelly Rauvola, an associate professor of organizational psychology at DePaul University in Chicago.

Rauvola specializes in health and well-being in the workplace.

“I think there's the argument to be made that individuals might be more productive in a place where they're really comfortable," explained Rauvola. "They might be more productive if they get to work different work hours."

Whether it’s the stress and cost of commuting or the loss of flexibility, more Americans are finding their stride in working from home.

“I often feel more productive,” said Bossmeyer. “Sometimes, I think you forget to kind of log out and kind of go home. But I do appreciate the flexibility.”

Late last year, more than half of the workers surveyed said they would want to work from home even after the coronavirus outbreak ended. Now, that number has grown.

A recent Harvard Business School survey of remote workers found 81% of workers prefer a hybrid schedule post-pandemic or not going back at all. Just 18% said they would want to go back to the office full time. Meanwhile, worried about company culture, some 70% of employers say they want people back in the workplace.

What the ideal post-pandemic work-life will look like is still uncertain, but experts agree flexibility may be the key.

“I think that there should be a push to try to adapt work to fit the worker because ultimately, that's what's going to make for sustainable employability,” said Rauvola. "That's what's going to make for a happier, healthier, and more productive society.”

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