You've worked remotely, and you've worked in an office. You like both. You're not alone—there are countless people missing the perks of going into an office.
You know it’s not an either-or question. Legions of workers like you are all too aware that it's less about the location, and more about creating the proper mind space and vibe to get into your flow. That's how you and your team get things done.
Just being able to work from home without this mixed in is a recipe for chaos and burnout. Not to mention being forced to work from home due to a pandemic is not the same as intentional remote work.
For a long, long time, research has shown that social connection inspires purpose, well-being, effectiveness, and overall happiness in the workplace. And it’s very, very good for business in a number of ways.
While building these relationships is possible via video chat, it takes more effort and intention—something not all teams are taking into account. Get this: a whopping 77% of people who work in open offices reported being happy in their jobs. The numbers remain more or less the same when private office spaces and cubicles come into the picture. People just like going into the office (even if they suppose they want to work from home).
So why all the fuss about remote-only? You don't want to choose between the two—you're not ready to cross that bridge yet. Just because the buzzword 'remote work' has put a stranglehold on the zeitgeist, doesn't mean you have to get on board.
I hear you: working from home exclusively, FOREVER actually doesn't sound that rad. But how do you put it into words? Hear me out.
1. The office is not your enemy! It's poor work practices
Think about the last time you wanted to storm out of a meeting or your office. What caused you to want to do this? Was it the neat whiteboard where you jot down all of your best ideas for new products or campaigns? Was it the coffee maker that gave you life some mornings when you couldn't even? Maybe it was the sweet lounge area where you have inspiring chats or a good laugh with Bob from IT?
I'm willing to bet it was none of the above. It was probably someone who talked over you in a meeting or booked a session that you didn't need to be in over your deep focus time. So, why does the office get all the flack? Your office was a destination that actually offered a lot. I’m just saying, I think the hate on the actual physical spaces must stop.
Instead, we should focus on building a stronger work culture and address the issues creating a bad one.
P.s. Could you imagine storming out of your own house? It would be so awkward and anti-climatic because you'd have to go back at some point that night.
2. Not everyone has a sprawling home to work from
Some people (maybe even most people these days) live in tiny studio apartments or share a flat with roommates who are also working from home. There's no space to roam, no areas to spread your wings or change the scenery up, and indeed, no rooms to have productive meetings free of children playing or your roommate's lousy taste in music.
Sure, there are ways to get around this at home. You could come up with a schedule for who gets what common area, when—or duel to the death. The point is, a team of expert designers probably crafted your office space to encourage movement and inspire creativity. It's difficult to mimic this at home where you just want to chill, wear flowy pants, and not care about anything other than Netflix, Twitch, or reading a good book. Also, you probably don't have a degree in interior design, so there's that.
3. Say it with me: Communication!
We speak to one another through body language as much as we do with our words. So when it comes to communicating with coworkers, it's easy to see why being in an office makes it a little easier to get your message across without confusion. Every time we greet each other in the morning, we renew belonging cues. They help us feel connected to the environment and to each other. We add little deposits of trust to the relationships we share, helping to maintain them.
That's not to say office communication is perfect and that issues work themselves out without internal communications processes for support. It just means that you don't have the same handicap working in an office that you do when trying to express your ideas over a video call or Slack. You could gesticulate like a madman, but I'm not sure that will get you where you need to go. You're free to give it a try, though!
In any case, it's another +1 for being in an office.
4.Taking your office perks for granted
Who doesn't love a fully stocked snack wrack or a fridge with the latest dairy-free milk craze for your coffee obsession or bourgie flavored water with hard-to-pronounce names that spark loud conversations with coworkers, none of which you have to pay for out of pocket? As they say, talk is cheap, and so is not paying for your snacks.
If you're one of the few people still clinging to their New Years' resolution to nibble less and eat healthier, you may think working from home is a blessing in disguise. But then you look at your cupboard and find oreo cookies, hot Cheetos, and a ton of other crap that you had to get because you need emotional support after working way too many hours. Alternatively, in the last few years, office snacks have gotten healthier and healthier (mostly).
Plus, being at home is the ultimate cheat day excuse. Admit it: the office has just the right amount of social pressure to keep you accountable for those health goals you broadcasted to everyone in a two-mile radius. I'm just saying.
5. The hidden fees of working from home
On top of buying snacks out of your hard-earned moola (lame sauce), you may have noticed that your electricity bill and Amazon spending have skyrocketed. Who's paying for that?! You are my friend. You and you alone!
At that moment, you realize that your company was paying for a ton of stuff this whole time (who knew). Paying for it yourself is just less desirable. Some companies that get how much a home workspace and services matter let you expense part of your internet bill, desk purchase, office chair, and even gourmet coffee (you should ask!). But this isn't universal. Part of the point I'm making here is that not all home offices are created equal.
6. (Work) is where the heart is
But seriously, we need to separate productivity and work from the physical space we do it in. What's more important is being able to form bonds and connections with your team and establish practices that help you become a highly tuned working machine.
The hard truth is that for some—heck, maybe even most—this happens in a well-designed office that takes all of these ideas into account. There are distractions that you cannot control for when everyone is at home. It's one of the reasons why Range CEO, Dan, advocates for flexible and windowed work, which gives people and teams permission to create the schedules and environments that work best for their productivity and sense of belonging. It could mean working exclusively at home for some, and in the office for others. Or maybe it's a little of both. The point is that 9-5 work is outdated and outmoded, and runs counter to the way modern work life functions.
While this is a rant about the joys of the office, this is a +1 for anywhere you want to be!
7. It's okay to step away from your desk (ICYMI while working from home)
There have been reports recently about how people are overworking themselves during this critical time when they should be finding balance. They figure they don't have a commute now so they can just work more and later. Not only is sitting non-stop in front of your computer terrible for your physical health, it's bad for your mental health as well.
Traditionally, going into the office and coming home was a nifty marker to wind down one part of your life and engage with another. Eliminate the office, and you need to create new ways to do this. Unfortunately, this is tricky and will look different for everyone and their situation. And not enough teams are thinking critically about this. The result is burnout and complete obliteration of productivity. As Sweet Brown has infamously remarked, "ain't nobody got time for that!"
The office is a super useful shorthand for this type of switching that helps us maintain a sense of balance and happiness.
8. I promise, you're not an alien for wanting human contact outside of your living unit
Last, but certainly not least, being in the office means you interact with real-life humans, not just digital, video versions of them.
While you can schedule social time, and it can work well, there's just no way to replace the spontaneity of running into people and sparking up a great conversation. This style of connecting isn't for everyone. But, remotely-only offices and cultures take this popular, age-old way of building relationships off the table from those who value it. Not so good. You have to be much more intentional about how you build and maintain relationships, which can feel like, well, work.
Remote work certainly has its perks: no commutes, more time with people close to you, family and friends, and privacy. But it doesn't mean that the office has no value.
There are countless reasons to miss the office that are quite specific to you, your workplace, and the community you've built. It's about more than singing the praises of remote work—it's about acknowledging what makes people productive.
Oh! And before I let you go, be sure to checkout, Range! It's seriously an excellent way to keep up with your team, in the office, or remote, and we've baked building relationships with your coworkers into the cake. It's free to try for groups up to ten (10)!