So We’ve Been Working Remotely for over a Year — Here’s How 5 Remote Workers Actually Feel About Returning to the Office in the Future

If there’s one silver lining of the pandemic, it’s the flexibility millions of employees have experienced for the first time in their working lives — swapping out congested traffic and makeup for comfy joggers has employees questioning whether they need to return physically to the office at all. This is a major mindshift from the past eons that humans have been exchanging labor for wages, and it was 100 percent enabled by this magical invention called the internet. Imagine telling someone they could earn a salary just by sitting in their bedroom, clacking away on a pixelated box! COVID-19 forced us to migrate to alternative work solutions and conduct our social lives on Zoom, but as it turns out, many people are here for this metaverse lifestyle.

A recent LinkedIn post by Charlotta Rydström posed this question: “Where do you want to work after COVID?” Casual LinkedIn scrollers could react with their preferred post-apocalyptic working situation like remote full-time, one day remote, etc. Almost 80,000 people responded to the post, and as of this writing, a whopping 35% of people wanted three or more days remote while just 5.15 percent chose being in the office full-time. I’m laughing because if you polled workers a year ago (phase one of Armageddon), I’m positive the results would’ve been flipped! Humanity has been through the wringer in 2020 and into 2021, but we also collectively discovered the pros and cons of remote work

Personally, I’ve never felt more productive, liberated and creative in my life — my talents are more fluid and “living” has assumed a different definition entirely. Especially as a new grad who started full-time work 100 percent remotely, I wanted to see how others in my situation felt. Are we missing that face-to-face interaction of eating lunch with coworkers and brainstorming in swanky conference rooms? Or are we loving the extra “me time” in the morning and replacing gasoline with dream journaling? After polling several new grads, the bottom line is pretty clear: remote and hybrid work is here to stay.

The Consensus 

Women gather around a table Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

"I really like working remotely, and I think there's a lot of flexibility involved. When you're in the office, there can be a lot of distractions, but when you're at home you can buckle down and get to work. You have a work-life balance too, like if you have an errand to run you can do that and then get back to work. 

I personally would not want to return to the office, and in the far future, maybe one day a week would be sufficient. Going back 100 percent isn't really necessary at this point — we've all demonstrated remote work is equal to office work, and people are happier. I'm looking forward to working remotely from Hawaii for three to four weeks next month, so you can work from wherever you want!" – Veronica*, a business analyst in Phoenix

“It's exciting and scary at the same time. We’ve been through three national lockdowns in the UK and most people have been working from home since March 2020. Being the newest employee for my department and learning how to do the work remotely has been a great challenge, but the support received from all my colleagues has been marvellous! Therefore, I'm excited to meet their friendly personas in person and get to work ‘properly!’” – Jason, a registry assistant in the United Kingdom

“I want to go back into the office so we can have that personal connection to the team that we don't get online (meet managers in person, have meetings in person) — but if you're going to be back and you won’t be able to interact much (i.e. social distance, everything is still virtual), then they're just kinda rushing it. I don't see the point. Luckily for me, I only live fifteen minutes away from work — it's more of, 'I wanna see people, but I don't want to go in if everything is still virtual.'

If we do go back, I'll miss my dogs and will have to transition from being home every single day to being gone for eight hours a day. I don't know if we should go if none of us are on the priority list for vaccines — we'd be the only ones who are still spreading it. Companies could save a lot of money by us working remotely. If we could work two to three days from home, I would be so much happier!” – Natasha, an accountant in Phoenix

“I had a little time in person before remote work began, but I can’t imagine not having the flexibility to work remotely. I love not having to commute 1.5 hours each day and being able to have my location flex based on personal life needs. Although I do miss the spontaneous connections with coworkers in the office, I can’t say I'm itching to get back into a 9-to-5 schedule in the office.” – Lisa, a materials engineer in Cincinnati

“As someone that will need to commute more than two hours a day once we're back in the office, I'm not looking forward to it at all! Though, since I've only met one of my direct coworkers in person I'm excited to see their faces and confirm that they are actual people.

I'm personally hoping for a hybrid model in which I can keep the flexibility of remote working when I'd like, but also have the option to go in every so often for crucial meetings, or to get to know my coworkers.” – Chamath, a software engineer in San Francisco

Not surprisingly, most new grads are approaching work in totally novel ways compared to their parents or grandparents. Working from Hawaii — Kona IPA and Ted’s Cheese Pie at your fingertips — or finally building a side hustle are realities that commuting and the rigmarole of 9-to-5 didn’t allow for. We’re on the cusp of a hybrid work revolution, one where we can wear yoga pants for three days and floral peplum tops for the other two. I’ll cheers to that on my next Zoom happy hour!  

*Names have been changed