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Do we even need offices anymore? Why can’t everything just be done virtually without physically seeing leaders, customers, or team members?
There’s no doubt that flexible work is the future of work. But we need to remember that flexible work doesn’t mean full-time virtual work. The pandemic showed that remote work isn’t just possible–it’s effective, cost-saving, and enjoyable.
But just because remote work is increasing doesn’t mean in-person work is dead. Collaborating face-to-face with co-workers can help a business and its employees grow in powerful ways.
Many employees want to work together in person. A survey by JLL found that three in four employees hope to return to in-person work in an office, with the majority favoring a hybrid model.
While remote work brings flexibility, it also comes with mental strain and loneliness. Companies have found that it is much easier to build morale and a solid corporate culture when employees are working together in person, at least some of the time.
Working in an office provides an instant boundary between work and home life, which can improve workers’ mental health and make them more productive when they are at work.
Socializing with co-workers in person can be a huge boost to morale and career development opportunities. Having the chance to rub shoulders is especially beneficial for workers early in their careers who rely on in-person connections to grow their skills and network. 87% of employees say the office is essential for collaborating and building relationships.
Online networking is one thing, but meeting in person to share advice and contacts is invaluable. Research has found that no matter how productive an employee is who works from home, the lack of physical face time with managers and leaders can negatively impact promotions.
In-person work can create a robust environment for collaboration and brainstorming. While many people may be hesitant to share ideas or brainstorm virtually, they can more easily get on the same page when meeting in person.
The JLL survey found that 97% of high performers say their office enables easy collaboration. Even with today’s robust collaboration tools, sitting in the same room as someone to hash out ideas can move projects ahead faster.
Does this mean that all companies need to return to full-time in-person work? No. There are still numerous benefits to flexible work. Many companies will likely move to a hybrid model that allows employees to work in an office for a few days and spend the rest of their time working remotely.
Even with the technology and growing acceptance of remote work, in-person is still a vital part of the future of work.
The future of work isn’t virtual…it’s flexible.
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