While many people are now happily returning to restaurants and concert halls after two years of COVID isolation, most workers are not as eager to return to the office. Office occupancy rates in the US are only at 40%, with as many as 15% of people say they plan never to return. Some economists argue that workers must be at the office for at least part of the week to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and innovation. Specifically, young workers have a lot to learn from their senior colleagues, an invaluable knowledge transfer which is often the result of spontaneous workplace interactions or friendly relations which are hard to cultivate via Zoom. Likewise, older workers need to become invested in their colleagues’ success, mentoring them, offering them assignments, and championing them to others. These are important relationships that are not only vital to individual progress, but also to the long-term success of the company. Others point to statistics that show working from home, avoiding long commutes, and having more time for leisure activities actually increases productivity and effectiveness. And polls show that a third of workers would rather resign than return to the office full time. Instead of returning to an old and outdated workplace culture, companies need to redesign how they function and use new technology to reinforce social bonds. Workplaces which let their employees work from home while embracing new digital work tools of the 21st century will increase productivity, strengthen relationships, retain better employees, and ultimately get better results.
Arguing for the motion is Allison Schrager, columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute
Arguing against the motion is Adrian Wooldridge, global business columnist for Bloomberg Opinion
“If we completely get rid of the office, then at what point do you connect with your coworkers? In a quarterly or annual retreat? You're never going to really have the spark in chemistry if that's the only time you see them.”
“People have discovered that they can be just as productive, just as creative, just as intelligent at home as in the formal office …. work is no longer tied to a place.”
Sources: Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg Markets, CNBC
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