Farewell to teleworking: the return to the office continues to raise hackles

Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Apple. They practically created it, they gave us the necessary tools, and now they are against it. After several years of teleworking, the big tech companies want to fill their offices again, but they are not finding it too easy.

With the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic, companies were forced to close their offices, sending their teams home. Since then, 100% remote work has become commonplace. Lucky for some, for others… not so much.

However, a little over a year ago, when the pandemic became a thing of the past, the big technology companies began to make their move. Elon Musk’s email to his employees, the relocation of Meta’s staff to its New York offices, Google’s notice to reinstate its team within three days… the beginning of what some call the crusade against telecommuting.

The return to face-to-face attendance

Hybrid model or back to the office. Take telecommuting out of the equation, and there are not many other options to choose from in this return to ‘normalcy’; and it seems that this situation is not sitting well with many of the team members of these large companies.

Unrest, strikes, layoffs… But going back to the office doesn’t have to mean going back to the pre-pandemic workspace, some are already back in their new office.

Offices are no longer static environments where teams simply go about their day. They are flexible and adaptable areas, meeting places. Spaces that meet your daily needs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), data analysis, Augmented Reality (AR). To achieve this flexibility, technology has become a key element. AR, for example, puts the employee at the center: it allows the employee to choose the workspace, streamlines and automates internal processes, allows to check availability and reserve certain areas of the office.

So, saying goodbye to telecommuting and going back to the (new) office is not bad at all.

5 reasons to return to on-site attendance

Twitter, Meta, Google… We have already talked about them, but they are not the only ones. In general, large companies are pushing for a return to the office and their motives are centered on driving collaboration and corporate culture, as well as fostering creativity. If there is one thing that makes teleworking difficult, it is the connection between employees.

Working from home is not the same as working from a space initially designed for that purpose. Just as it is not the same to meet by video call as it is to collaborate in person.

Productivity, connectivity, convenience… The reasons why companies want to return to face-to-face work, although without completely eliminating teleworking, are varied. Let’s focus on five:

Shared moments

Corporate culture is not just a set of values and beliefs. It also consists of daily interactions, traditions and shared moments. Offices are places where this culture is lived and experienced.

That is why, large companies argue, by being physically present, employees can become deeply immersed in this culture and strengthen their sense of belonging.

Promoting collaboration

While technological tools have made remote communication easier, many companies feel that nothing can replace face-to-face collaboration.

Informal discussions in the cafeteria, impromptu meetings in the hallways or simply the act of sharing a space can spark innovative ideas.

Beyond problem solving

Collaboration goes beyond problem solving, it is also creativity. Being in a common space with colleagues from different departments can be a catalyst for new ideas.

Some companies, such as Apple, have specifically designed their offices to maximize casual encounters between employees in hopes of encouraging such creative exchanges.

Connection between equipment

While telecommuting can be a very good option for autonomy and concentration, it can also be lonely.

Offices provide a space where employees can socialize, form relationships and connect on a human level. For many, these ties are essential to their well-being and job satisfaction.

Supervision and structure

The offices also provide a more controlled environment. From ensuring that everyone has access to the necessary tools and resources to maintaining certain standards and structures.

Companies may feel they have more control over productivity and workflow in a face-to-face environment.

Teleworking: productivity problems?

According to a report by The Economist, post-pandemic teleworking led to a 20% drop in team productivity. The study found that although employees worked an average of 52 hours per week, that is 30% more than in offices, they spent most of their working day in meetings with their managers to outline their responsibilities.

While it is true that teleworking makes supervision and collaboration between team members more difficult, a report by Robert Walters has shown that 47% of Spaniards consider that their productivity has increased with teleworking.

Beyond productivity, the debate among companies and teams around telework focuses on flexibility, on work-life balance. But how can companies balance their needs with the demands of their employees? Hybrid work no longer seems to be the answer. At least on its own.

As we said before, returning to the office is not the same as returning to the new office. And that seems to be the key. If work has changed, it is because people have changed, and ignoring this point can lead to problems in retaining and attracting talent.

From teleworking to the new office

With technological advances, returning to the office should not be a problem for companies and teams. Tools such as Artificial Intelligence, data analysis or Augmented Reality are postulated as great allies to ensure productivity, collaboration and, of course, the flexibility that teams crave after enjoying teleworking. Back to a better managed workspace thanks to technology, that’s back to your new office.