Will workers ever return to the office?

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(photo credit Big Stocks)

(photo credit Big Stocks)

It’s been almost two-years since a good portion of the U.S. workforce was sent home to work remotely because of the pandemic. About 25% of workers, mostly so-called knowledge workers, have been able to work virtually, something front line, essential, and many other workers weren’t able to do. For businesses, the pandemic been a lesson in flexibility and adaptation, with offices closing during infection waves and planned re-openings getting postponed because of new variants.

Now, with omicron infections falling and growing pressure to return to pre-pandemic life, employees who’ve learned to love remote work are raising concerns. Most report they want to continue virtual work, at least a few days a week, and almost half say they would quit or start looking for a new job if their employer mandated a full return to office. Not all managers are on onboard with a flexible schedule for their employees. This hour, we discuss what we learned about remote work during the pandemic and balancing a ‘return to office’ plan while keeping employees happy.


Peter Cappelli, professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he directs the School’s Center for Human Resources. He’s the author of a new book, The Future of the Office.

Rani Molla, a reporter for Vox’s Recode who covers the future of work. @ranimolla

Recommended reading

Vox, Remote work isn’t the problem. Work is. – “Knowledge workers think being remote makes their jobs better, while managers worry the arrangement could cause the quality of work to suffer. But in scapegoating remote work, companies may be disguising the real scourge of creativity right now: too much work.”

NPR, ‘Where is my office anyway?’ As COVID recedes, remote workers prepare to head back – “What does it mean to be part of a team if I’ve never actually met them before? And what does it mean to actually have a shared experience?”

CNN, Employers take note: Most remote workers don’t want to go back to the office – “Pew researchers said they found that 60% of workers with jobs that can be done from home say they’d like to work from home all or most of the time when the pandemic is over if given the choice. This is up from 54% in 2020.”

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