Jessica Bryan acquired a wholly remote job handling customer service at a computer company soon after graduating from university in 2021. She thoroughly enjoyed working from home.
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“I might work for a while, then walk the dog or go out with someone for coffee, then return to work,” she explains. “I had a fantastic workplace space in my house as well.” I was able to totally unwind as soon as I concluded work.”
Bryan’s supervisors then asked her to spend more and more time in the workplace as Covid-19 limits were lifted.
It was her first time in a full-time, in-person setting. “I was again in an almost-school routine… and I didn’t enjoy it,” says the 24-year-old from the United Kingdom. She quit the organization in February 2022, intending to solely work in roles that allowed her the freedom and independence of working remotely.
She immediately got remote work, but it ended prematurely in August 2022, when the firm unexpectedly folded. Bryan has a new job as a senior copywriter at a digital PR agency, but she is needed to work two to three days a week.
After a few months, she’s astonished by how much she enjoys it – even though she’s sworn off returning.
“It slowly dawned on me how deeply I like being in the workplace,” she adds. “I’d look forward to meeting my coworkers and having a great discussion in the mornings.” Bryan loved the camaraderie in ways she never expected only a few months ago. “That social connection and feeling of belonging to a group is something I think people seem to forget when they haven’t experienced it in a long time.”
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Bryan is one of an increasing number of employees who have secretly reconsidered returning to their workstations, at least in part. They’re uncovering the unexpected benefits of being back at work, from catching up with colleagues in person to being capable of setting clearer lines between their personal and professional lives.
While many employees are eager to tell their supervisors how happy they are to be back, others have decided to keep their thoughts to themselves because they do not want to urge management to eliminate flexible work arrangements.
‘When you’re in person, you can’t ignore me.’
It was a significant adjustment when millions of workers were compelled to shift to remote work at the outset of the pandemic.
Alexander Kahn, director of managed services at Miami-based software business Kaseya, says it took him around three months to properly adjust to working from his kitchen table after previously working full-time in an office. Yet he rapidly realized the “undeniable benefits.” With no commuting, he had more time at home to handle household errands and spend quality time with his animals.
Thus, when his employer chose to bring back full-time employees in June 2021, Kahn was hesitant to join.
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Numerous employees have expressed the same sentiment. According to a survey conducted by the US-based recruiting portal FlexJobs between July and August 2022, around two-thirds of those polled wanted to continue working remotely full-time, while 32% desired the opportunity to work from home at least a few days each week. Another study, conducted by workplace analytics firm ADP Research Institute in November 2021, indicated that 64% of US workers would hunt for another job if their company needed them to return to work full-time.