Companies should not abruptly force a mandatory back-to-office policy – Grand Valley Lanthorn

Working remotely or doing school from home is something we all collectively see as normal now, despite it being very weird years ago. In 2020, when we were all sent home for COVID-19 lockdowns, there was a lot of learning and navigating happening. We all had to find a way to make things work the best we could on very short notice. Now, working from home isn’t a foreign concept and has even become the preference for many workers for various reasons. This is a new normal for many workers, and they have gotten comfortable with their new schedules and work situations. Things, however, may be taking a turn in this next year, as 90% of companies plan to implement return-to-office policies by the end of 2024. Of the companies that plan to implement back-to-office policies, 30% say their company will threaten to fire employees who don’t comply with in-office requirements. 
Some of the reasons that people prefer to work remotely are flexible scheduling, healthy work-life balance and saving time. Remote work may allow workers to work a more personalized schedule that permits them to get work done at the best time for them. Also, working from home reduces the amount of travel time and time preparing to leave to go to the office, which leaves more time for your own interests. With remote work, people from all over the world are able to get connected and pursue a common goal. It allows people seeking work to not be confined to a single geographical region. Also, top talent globally would be available for employment, which could help many companies. Many people are unable to pack up everything and move to a new place for a job, but remote jobs can give them the chance they always wanted to have. 
Productivity concerns are a major factor in bringing people back to the office. This is something I completely understand, but research has shown that productivity was not affected as much as many people believe. In 2023, labor productivity rose 3.7% during the second quarter, and is up 1.3% compared to this time last year. Workers have shown they are able to work productively from home and have been increasing productivity over the years as well. Those who have been working effectively and have shown no signs of decline in quality of work should continue to have the option to work where they think is best for them.
It is worth noting that all jobs require different settings and are operated differently. Some jobs are unable to run their business with employees working from home for many reasons. On the other hand, the companies who do have the availability for remote work should really weigh the benefits and pitfalls of applying the back-to-office policies so abruptly. It could lead to more change that people aren’t looking to go through yet again after finally feeling comfortable working where they are. 
As much as people were skeptical about remote work, it has shown benefits that we weren’t aware of before.
It is hard to believe that the COVID-19 lockdown was almost four years ago, but some things have yet to go back and may forever be changed. I don’t think this is a good decision by company executives to abruptly force back-to-office policies because they could lose many employees in the process. Some employees have been with companies for years before being sent home, and now may be at risk of losing their jobs if they want to continue to work remotely. Employees who have not caused any issues working from home may also be upset leading to a lack of trust between employees and management. There needs to be compromise and an open line of communication between employees and managers for something like this to not have negative effects.

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