Why Working Full-time at the Office is Not the Future. Offering Options Is.

Sophie Wade
8 min readMay 9, 2021

‘It’s time to get back to work!’ say many CEOs, pushing to get everyone back to the office full-time. It feels outdated to equate ‘the office’ with ‘work’, as well as unappreciative of employees’ efforts since March 2020, burning out under prolonged crisis conditions. Executives’ reasons for these office moves are worth investigating before plans are finalized for a full-time return to the office. The negative repercussions could be significant and long-lasting.

There are many misinterpretations and assumptions about hybrid work models which need clarifying or debunking first. A ‘hybrid’ mixes varieties or elements. A hybrid work model typically combines office-based and non-office-based working. It does not mean employees work five days a week at home by default. It also does not mean that workers get whatever flexible workdays/hours they want from wherever they want. These options might be possible, they might be offered. However, these choices and decisions are part of valuable conversations to be had between employer and employees.

The top justifications given below for not offering hybrid options do not stand up to informed debate about business and talent needs, especially considering prevailing conditions and what we can anticipate ahead. Countering each reason, rebuttals caution against reverting to 100% office-based workweeks and share foreseeable consequences:

REASON 1: SAFETY — Pandemic restrictions are being lifted which means it’s safe to go back to the office.

RETORT: Not so fast. Restrictions are easing, but detailed safety protocols remain. 35% of US adults are hesitant about getting vaccinated[1]. 66% of people are worried about health and safety risks going back to the office[2]. 64% of active NYC subway riders are ‘very concerned’ about health safety[3]. 46% of adults do not feel [psychologically] comfortable going back to the living life like they used to before the pandemic.

The transition back to the office needs to be gradual and handled carefully. Why not reduce concerns and logistical challenges by allowing voluntary decreases to daily office-based populations? Based on current global vaccination plans, BCG projects emergence from the pandemic in 2024[5]. We can therefore…

Sophie Wade

Workforce Innovator. Speaker. Author-Exec MBA textbk Embracing Progress. Integrating Empathy@Work in: leadership, multigeneration collaboration, remote working