If told to forecast 2020, probably none of us would have predicted the year we had.

We've all become familiar with working from home, hating Zoom calls, and wearing casual clothes that could do with a wash. 

Certainly, working from home has benefits, with some people thriving in their surroundings, but many hope to see the backs of remote working forever. 

With the pandemic in Australia largely contained and vaccines circulating, there are calls for office life to resume. For some, the urge to escape their homes, look presentable and even get stuck in traffic is undeniable. In this article, we'll explain why.

Interaction and connection

Working from home in a makeshift office-for-one goes against the grain because we're innately social creatures who crave regular interaction.

For some, not being interrupted by colleagues or being distracted by office hubbub assists with productivity.

For others, not having colleagues around is lonely, depressing and isolating. Work-from-home orders are implemented to save lives, but that has come at a high cost to mental health.

Returning to the office will restore work friendships fizzled out by allowing colleagues to catch up in person rather than a screen and spending much needed time away from family.

Working from home in a makeshift office-for-one goes against the grain because we're innately social creatures who crave regular interaction.

Better Work-Life Balance

During the initial stages of lockdown, we became master bakers and maxed out on family time. We loved not sitting in traffic, and being able to perform errands and chores during work hours was a luxury never before experienced.

The novelties soon wore off. Unable to completely switch off after-hours, workers began clocking out later. Employees working harder than before was good for business, but the toll on mental health and the probability of burnout became an ever-present danger.

On the contrary, while some extend their hours, others struggle to work at peak productivity because of home distractions and not having colleagues or mentors around to feel motivated or ask for guidance. With the television close by and household chores and children requiring constant attention, crucial hours are lost, which can greatly cost any company.

Separating home and work-life draws a line in the sand. At the office, you're working, and at home, you're with the family, relaxing, doing homework, and focussing your attention on other non-work-related tasks.

Adds Much Need Structure And Routine

Flexible working gives professionals the chance to slot in tasks they didn't previously have time for. However, for some people, this mode of working is problematic because it lacks structure and routine.

For starters, dressing up and looking smart for work fuels people with a sense of purpose, being gainfully employed and proud to show it. Rolling out of bed last minute and working in pyjamas was, for some people, a guilty pleasure that has since lost its shine.

Not having to commute to work might seem like a blessing. However, the time it takes travelling to the office prepares you for the day of work ahead and gives you time to unwind on your way back and not bring work problems home.

If you're guilty of getting so immersed in your work, having a colleague pry you away for a quick coffee escape is vital for breaking up your workday and recharging. Not having said work friend or caring coworker at home with you means you'll spend more time than is healthy staring into your screen.

Needing inspiration to deter writer's block or procrastination? A constant change of scenery might be a staple in your daily work life, which may have been stripped away working from a small city apartment. Switch up your desk with a cosy armchair in the communal room, or enjoy total privacy and quiet in dedicated meeting rooms.

...for some people, this mode of working is problematic because it lacks structure and routine.

Improved efficiency and productivity

Given what the world has been through in the last 12 months, feeling demotivated is only natural. This may become a problem if your work performance dives.

Being away from the office, you're bound to miss your colleagues, the vibrant work culture, the opportunities to generate new ideas, and the spaces and amenities that help you work faster and more efficiently.

It's not just the people that affect the way you work, but the fact that your home office isn't adequately equipped for the longterm. You aren’t meant to sit in a hard dining room chair for hours on end. Feeling uncomfortable might cause you to lose focus and momentum.

Returning to the office doesn't just mean regaining a social work life, but having access to ergonomic furniture that supports your back.

Other home obstacles may include unreliable internet that lags and cuts or not having access to tools and office equipment that makes your job easier to perform.

Lastly, a common misconception about home life is that it's quiet and distraction-free when the opposite is true. Sharing your space with your kids, pets, and spouse means that the only place you can knuckle down in quiet is probably at the office.

Boosts the economy

An influx of workers returning to the office has a knock-on effect on the economy, giving it a much-needed boost following a highly disruptive couple of months.

A worker's arrival spells for lunches out with colleagues or convenience takeout or engaging in retail therapy, which means that restaurants and retail sectors hard-hit by the pandemic receive much-needed business.

Another is the perks of clustering benefits, which is when interconnected businesses work together in near proximity at the convenience of the customer. Having workers return to the office helps to increase sales.

An influx of workers returning to the office has a knock-on effect on the economy, giving it a much-needed boost following a highly disruptive couple of months.

Will there be a return to normal?

Returning to the office full time after remote working for so long will certainly be a shock to the system.

But will the regular nine-to-five office hours be enforced? Probably not. The pandemic has taught us that we don't have to be in the office five days a week to be productive and that there are some advantages to working from home on select days. The future is not likely to be black and white where you're either an "in-office person" or " remote worker" but rather a hybrid of the two.

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