There appears to be a cottage industry springing up around the quandary of when, how and where to go back to work. You can find any number of webinars, consultants and publications jam packed with advice. At this moment it seems the majority of people want to work a hybrid schedule with a pretty healthy number wanting to work from home exclusively and indefinitely.

As my IT friend, @Amy Leyte commented recently, “For me, I’m lucky enough that work has asked my opinion about returning and it’s seems that the hybrid option will win. So, I have had to start exploring what I actually want. What do I do better at home vs the office?”  That seems to be a valuable question to start with; rather than arbitrarily setting a schedule of X days in the office/week versus X days working from home, based on what we want, why not ask Amy’s question, and assess where you get the most value from your time and effort. That’s all predicated on where you are most distracted and where you are most inspired. Home might be just the thing for deep thinking and creative solutions, or you might find the organized space of the office more invigorating.

No question the camaraderie, informal brainstorming and team bonding happens much more readily amongst people physically in the same space, but it is not all or nothing. Introverts have been speaking up and letting us know that the virtual world of work and communications is helpful to them and allows them to participate without the nerve-wracking anxiety of in person group settings. If you are one of them, what role does the office environment play in your productivity and how does it get in the way?

Leaving aside your comfort about COVID conditions at your job site, can you demonstrate innovation and productivity while working remotely or will you be overlooked for promotions and special projects because you are not around? Out of sight can be out of mind.

As Dr. Margie Warrell writes in Forbes, “You don’t get paid for the hour but for the value you bring to the hour.  As such, you have to make a convincing case for why working remotely will enable you to bring even more value”.

And then there are the potential labour relations issues around forcing people back to the office or making COVID vaccines mandatory. It is far too early to speculate how employers, employees and unions will respond to the challenges but there’s no doubt these disputes will become evident in the coming weeks and months.

Joanna Piros