Telecommuting is losing its luster
After months of keeping employees home to dodge COVID-19, many companies are concluding that the best place for most of their employees is back in the office.
The pandemic has proven that people don’t need to sit at desks full time, but employers are bringing people back on at least flexible hours, shattering the illusion of a workplace revolution that leaves most of people logging in at home.
âNo one has this crystal ball full,â said Jenni Morejon, president and CEO of the Downtown Development Authority in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. âHuman beings are creatures of habit, and the idea that people will never return to the office – it’s probably a lot of hype and hysteria.
She thinks the real question is to what extent workers are exhausted “from full-time teleworking”.
A national survey of 185 companies by CBRE, a real estate services company, suggests that executives now see the office as a better way to support collaborative work than relying on remote communications.
The company’s Spring 2021 Occupant Survey found that 41% of businesses polled intended to return to regular office use in the third quarter of this year, while 20% aimed at the fourth quarter. Another 23% said their workers had already returned to their workplace.
“Several factors are supporting this sentiment, including the ongoing rebound in the US economy and the realization by businesses that they need to conserve more office space than they previously thought,” said Julie Whelan, manager. occupant research at CBRE.
Some observers believe companies have no choice but to call most workers back because customers are worried about the services they are receiving.
âThe biggest user of office space in South Florida tends to be banks, investment stores, wealth management firms, law firms, and real estate companies,â Stephen said. Bittel, president of the real estate services company Terranova. âWe tend not to have heavy business users here. These service companies had well-designed businesses to work from home. “
“They were pleased” to have reduced expenses through remote work, he said. But the cuts may have exploded for some.
âThey didn’t spend any money on customer travel and entertainment and didn’t replace employees and support staff,â Bittel said. âThey think they’ve bottled lightning for a while. The flip side is that shoppers and customers alike are screaming about the incredibly slow pace of transactions ending. “
While many agree that remote working has demonstrated the benefits of technology, there is a strong belief that communication and training is best done in person. This includes people who learn on the job.
Isabella Guttuso is a University of Florida intern student at EDSA Fort Lauderdale, a decades-old architectural firm. She stresses that human interaction is important for growth and for learning to collaborate with other adults in the workplace. She studies landscape architecture and thinks she is unlikely to capture the nuances of business through Zoom.
âI’m trying to learn and get my feet wet,â she said. âI really needed this interpersonal experience. We are constantly drawing and working together and getting people’s feedback that way. I feel like even for people who don’t work in design, that sense of community that you get in the workplace is so important.
Training is best done in person, agreed Brandon Isner, associate research director for Florida at CBRE. Technology cannot accomplish a lot.
âWhen people walk into the office, everyone is so happy to see each other,â he said, âThe technology is great and I love Zoom. That said, that human element cannot be replicated by Zoom. This is ultimately what will win.
Some small businesses are using flexible workspaces, like General Provision’s in Fort Lauderdale, to locate during the pandemic recovery, according to the Downtown Development Authority.