It’s time to return to the office. Here’s why. | Panda Anku

Opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.

Raise your hand if you miss commuting, your cubicle and the limited offering of the break room vending machine.

what, nobody?

Two years into the pandemic, a majority of American businesses aren’t ready to ditch remote work for a permanent return to the office — and neither am I. However, it’s important to realize that while most people find it more convenient to work remotely, there are also benefits for your team when you’re back in the office. Allow me to present my case.

Related: The Importance of Returning to the Office After Remote Work

Increased touch points

Walking down the hall or even up a floor to talk to a colleague never seemed like much of a challenge. So why do so many workers feel that sending a Slack or Skype message will throw the recipient’s day completely out of focus?

Communication is the first thing that dwindles as your business goes fully virtual. Even in a hybrid situation, employees have at least one day a week when they are subconsciously reminded that their co-workers are real people. Someone coming to your office seems much more urgent than a Skype message, but the reason is the same: you have a question or need something.

So why get an instant response that is on a waiting list or may never be answered?

The lack of personal contact makes all the difference. The collaborative environment of an office, even if you only go in two or three times a week, reminds you that people depend on you and that you need others to be successful. When you’re working from your own home, it’s easy to assume that what you’re working on is the linchpin of the entire enterprise – don’t get defensive, it’s my own fault.

Bringing people together in the office is a good ego check and a reminder to everyone that they are part of a team. It’s a reminder that their ability to contribute is just as important as individual tasks.

Lack of corporate culture

Let’s face it: it’s hard to feel a sense of unity on a Zoom call.

In the early years of the pandemic, my agency was remote and had everything from morning get-togethers to our annual Christmas party via video conferencing tools. While they were a manageable solution given the global situation at the time, it was difficult to convey the sense of a special occasion.

The phrase “positive corporate culture” is derided as employer slang because “we don’t pay a living wage, but we have an air hockey table in the office.” However, as an entrepreneur, I believe it is imperative to build a positive workplace culture for your employees. The air hockey table is negotiable.

On the other hand, some younger employees could argue: “We don’t want a corporate culture. We don’t want to commute and we want more comfort.” This way of thinking is perfectly understandable. There is almost no situation where I would advocate a full return to the office unless the job requires it. In my agency, too, my team is only in-house, typically on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we have what I believe to be an ideal corporate culture. I think it’s entirely down to our balance between working in the office and working from home.

A workplace culture that embraces transparency, collaboration, and communication doesn’t come from a brick-and-mortar building. However, to keep a tight-knit team well-oiled, there must be real-world interaction between team members. Otherwise everyone makes it a little too easy and starts radio silent, everyone works as individual units and not as part of a whole.

Related: Should you bring employees back into the office?

The hybrid model

Finally, I can tell you from personal pandemic experience that being able to work from the comfort of your bed all week is exactly what you do think You want to. It’s nice for a week or two, but eventually you get bored. There is no endorphin rush with clocking out because you are already home and the walls between your professional and personal lives are beginning to fade. You start missing all the water cooler conversations you took for granted because now you have to send a message via Slack or Basecamp to reach someone.

Few people, myself included, will argue for a total return to the office. For computer-based and mostly stationary workers, you can’t commute five days a week and expect staff to stay around. That’s not the market anymore these days.

However, let’s not pretend that having your team together in the office a few days a week is pointless. Increased productivity, communication, and strengthening a positive company culture are best achieved when all of your team members work together, especially if you have a small team.

See also: 4 ways to encourage employees to return to the office

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