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The Challenges of Working Remotely, Hybrid, or in the Office

The pandemic changed all of us in many ways and for some people the biggest disruption was converting our homes into our new workspace. This was the necessary lifeline for many companies to stay afloat and for the employees to maintain their jobs. In the beginning for these new virtual office workers, it was difficult to find a place in their home to be set up as a temporary yet a permanent place to work. This involved all the equipment that was needed to set up this new office, be as private as possible, and hopefully not necessary to disassemble every evening so the family could eat dinner in their new office space. Some workers adjusted quickly and for others it was a hard way for them to adjust working in this new environment.

In addition to their new environment of working from their home, for many they had the added responsibility of homeschooling their children and sharing this new home office with a Significant Other. This took the word “sharing” to a whole new level.

But now in many states’ things are being reversed and companies are calling back their staff either permanently back to the office or approving hybrid versions. Some people are anxious to return to the office because they missed the socializing, a feeling of collaborating, or just a much better think tank environment. But for some it was the complete opposite. They choose quitting their job or would even take a pay cut to remain virtual.

By the Numbers

Society of Human Resource Management have reported through surveys that 72 percent of supervisors would prefer all subordinates work full time in the office. They stated that remote workers are more easily replaceable; they spend more time supervising the virtual workers; working remote can be detrimental to their careers, and they overlook or forget about virtual workers when assigning task.

Another survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas surveyed employees about permanent remote and 59% felt it diminishes networking opportunities, 55% felt it causes work relationships to suffer, also requires more work hours, reduces career opportunities, and reduces opportunities to develop.

The number one drive for workers to quit with 74 percent, is that they want more flexibility. They also cited that workers have challenges with perceived low wages, child care at 29 percent, and COVID concerns and relocation due to the pandemic. The reverse side of remote workers is that they are burning out. When your office is just feet away from you 24 hours, you have a tendency to work more hours than you would in a regular office with possibly an eight-hour day. They also have a hard time separating their work live from their family live.

For some companies, they are losing many of their employees and the attrition in some businesses is higher than others. Some workers have adjusted very well to working remotely and have created new connections with their significant other, their children, and now want to remain in this remote environment. They have created a structured work schedule and are disciplined throughout the work day. Others never adjusted to being away from the office and feel the bond many people have created in their workplace is now gone and cannot be created working independently. Plus, some people need and want the one-on-one relationships.

Personal Experience

I have been working from a home office for 30 years, and in the beginning it was a big adjustment. My company set up my office and I was having a tough time justifying I was working. People made constant comments that I just stayed at home and watched TV, shopping, or golfing. I do not even play golf. Quite the opposite, I was working many more hours than I did in the office just to show that I could do my job and have positive results. Over the years, more offices did start moving more of their staff to a remote office for various reasons and creating the hybrid program. But some of these people did not remain in a virtual office very long. They could not be disciplined to stay on a schedule, meet their quotas, or create new ideas or programs. These people need to touch, have a social connection to their office, and just more creative and worked better in that environment. Plus, some needed a supervisor to keep them on track. Remote does not work for everyone but during the pandemic we did not have that choice and for some it was a major adjustment. For others this was a new but very welcomed twist on their job. They loved it, worked well in an independent setting, and was able to produce and go above.

Many companies need to rethink their future. For some, the offices can adjust to this Hybrid way of work. For others that do need all their employees back onsite. For these companies they can plan and hope their previous employees will all return to the office. If not, they need to start advertising for new employees.  With approximately 6.3 million unemployed people, hopefully they will find their ideal, dedicated, hard-working, and reliable staff that want a job and want to work to help put all these companies back on track.

About Colleen Rickenbacher

Colleen A. Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CPECP is a business etiquette and protocol expert. Author of numerous books regarding these topics and others on communications, customer service, dress and appearance, and critical first impressions.