Do you remember the Greek myth of Pandora’s box? According to the myth, Pandora was given a box as a wedding gift but was ordered not to open it. Eventually, curiosity got the best of her, and she opened the box, releasing death, evil, and misery into the world. (Don’t get us started about why on Earth someone would give her a wedding gift that she can’t open.)
Over the millennia, the story has become synonymous for both good and bad things that once released, cannot be put back or unwound. The myth seems relevant to the currently evolving work environment. Before the pandemic, we knew employees were unhappy with their work arrangements, but that employers had control and wanted people on site because they couldn’t trust that they could work without supervision. The pandemic turned that thinking on its ear and proved that workers were equally, if not more, productive when working from home. Employees discovered that they mostly loved working from home, but occasionally yearned for a return to the office.
As the pandemic shifted, the hybrid work model gained popularity. Many businesses now offer a hybrid model, where employees can work some days in the office and others at home. Data seemed to show that the majority of employees wanted a hybrid arrangement. Employees said things like, “We’d like to go to the office two to three times a week,” and “I hate being on Zoom calls all day.” As a result, companies shifted their real estate plans, transforming offices into spaces with desks that could be reserved on an “as needed” basis.
Fast forward to the current situation. Although most employees said they wanted to work in a hybrid environment, that’s not proving to be the reality. Many offices are empty as employees continue to work from home, even when they have the choice to go into the office.
It appears that employees value flexibility and work-life balance more than they value going to the office. They don’t want to get up early, pack a lunch, laptop, keyboard, office badge, and coffee and then spend time in traffic on the way to the office – only to get to the office and see that not many people are there to collaborate with anyway. They get to the office only to spend their day on Zoom calls after all. This scenario isn’t delivering the office reunion they had hoped for. The excitement they originally felt about going back has already worn off.
Pandora’s box has been opened, and it seems that employees won’t choose to go back into the office unless businesses force them to return. There are exceptions, of course, but for many workers, the lure of being able to be onsite occasionally with colleagues doesn’t outweigh the desire to avoid the hassle of the old office routine.
At WAHVE, we built our company on the flexible at-home mode because we know it works. Businesses who continue to embrace and support employees who want to work from home will find that a culture of productive, well-balanced employees who are motivated to keep working for you. We specialize in helping retiring professionals find meaningful at-home work arrangements in the insurance industry. Become a wahve today.