When Lindsay Compton set up her own consultancy business in 2019, working from home seemed like the best option. As a military wife who has moved eight times in the past seven years, and a mother of two young children, she needed something flexible.
“It also seemed like quite a good model for being able to deliver really specialist knowledge and not have overheads that were too high,” says the UK-based Compton. But three years later – having built a team of 11 remote workers at Canny Comms, spread from Saudi Arabia to Chester – she admits she’s “desperate” to get back to an office.
“I feel like a teenager working in my very bland spare room, with washing hanging just out of view of the computer camera,” she says. Compton believes offices come with multiple benefits, including enabling colleagues to feed off each other’s energy. “Having an office space where you have good light and a good environment can just make you feel a little inspired, and I think it enables you to be a bit more brave.”
Yes, lots of people looking to bag a remote working role right now – but there are also plenty of people who are just as keen to get back to the office. According to a 2022 study by PwC, 11% of US workers would prefer to work full-time in the office, and 62% said they’d like to spend at least some time there. More than half (51%) of managers are also confident their employees would be keen to return to the office full-time, according to GoodHire.
The motivations of these people might vary – some long for the sociability of the office, while others prefer a clear boundary between work and home. But regardless, companies will need to work out how to accommodate the needs of people who want to be in offices as well as those who don’t, as they map out their post-pandemic working models.
‘I miss catching up with people’
While many people love the flexibility that remote work brings, for others the loss of an office environment and the social contact it provides can be a major blow.
“I would never apply for a home or remote-working role,” says Abi Smith, business manager at food producer Spice Kitchen. The 30-year-old was “lucky enough” to spend just six weeks working from home during the pandemic while briefly furloughed from her previous role, and since then has worked full-time in her Liverpool office. She even values the daily commute. “Even when I was furloughed for a few weeks… not having a routine where you get up, leave the house, and socialise and interact with other people throughout the day, I think that can massively affect your mental health. Not to leave your house for long periods of time, I don’t think it’s good for you.”