Why Remote Workers Still Need the Physical Office

Guest blogger Lisa Froelings is a business and productivity consultant with over 4 years of experience in human resources working for a major retailer in the country before she decided to build her own business. Her interests include technology, mindfulness as well as time management. 

Integrating more flexibility in the traditional workplace has been a major topic in the workplace over the last ten years. According to recent telecommunication statistics, 50 percent of employees in the United States work remotely in some capacity, while a staggering 90 percent would like to work remotely at least part-time.

There are various reasons that permitting people to work remotely is beneficial, but it’s important to recognize the positive effects of work/life balance when it comes to boosting employee satisfaction and productivity.

While permitting employees to telecommunicate grants workers more autonomy and the ability to manage their own schedules, that doesn’t mean getting rid of the physical office in its entirety. In fact, the keeping the office around could be hugely beneficial.

Here are some of the main reasons that both employers and telecommuters still need the physical office, even if it’s only for a couple days a week.

The physical office is a platform for connection. The introduction of a more flexible workplace has brought to the surface many of the issues workers have faced in the traditional office environment over the years. One of the most common complaints is that reporting to the same office day in and day out results in a decrease in productivity and worker engagement.

While this makes sense, the same logic can be applied to working at home 5 days a week. In short, workers need to be stimulated, and offering a variety of environments can help boost employee morale while re-establishing connection.

Bringing workers together in the same space, even if it is only one or two times per week, can be an effective way to strengthen employee relationships:

  • Using non-remote days to hold a quick roundtable to go over each remote worker’s progress that week is an easy way to create space for both employees and employers to review their progress and express any problems or concerns in person.

  • Working in the same physical space can help unify professional teams as they have the chance to communicate spontaneously face to face.

  • Employers can make the most out of their time with their employees by providing team-building days and additional training on the days their employees come in, which will contribute to overall productivity.

While there is no perfect formula for how many days employees should be expected to come into work, there are numerous benefits that come from enabling physical connection, whether that’s just once a week or once a month.

Structure helps us feel satisfied at work. The physical office space is an effective way to create a more structured working environment. First time remote workers and freelancers understandably tend to feel excited to go out on their own, often cutting themselves off from the office completely. While this can work for some people, the more developed the freelance ecosystem becomes, the more examples we see of freelancers returning to the office. There is a myriad of reasons for their return. Some freelancers tire of having to manage precarious pay schedules, others miss the feeling of working alongside a team, while many miss the structure provided by the office, claiming that working from home comes with too many distractions.

Luckily there are various ways that remote workers can use the office while still maintaining the flexibility and freedom that comes with remote work:

  • Many remote workers join a coworking space, which provides desks, offices and all the professional amenities needed to get work done

  • Working from home can be more rewarding in combination with days at the office, as workers relationships with space changes when not forced to report to a specific space

  • There are now more and more companies that provide workers with a freelance lifestyle in combination with the structure of a professional workplace, such as health benefits and set payments

The majority of remote workers often aren’t asking to leave the office entirely, but desire more freedom and autonomy. Providing them with choice and structure is an effective way to boost engagement and helps to combat isolation for those who chose to primarily work from home.

As remote work becomes more commonplace, there are some that feel the physical office will disappear altogether. Yet, because everyone is different, there are plenty of good arguments to keep the office around, even if it’s just on a flexible lease for a few days a week.

Share This Post: