Bloomberg: Employees are returning to the office, just to sit on Zoom calls

Hello, this has been my experience exactly. Bloomberg Wealth reports (paywall required):

With Covid cases relatively low, companies are increasingly calling their employees back to in-person work, at least for part of the week. Executives usually cite collaboration and work culture as reasons to return. But once in the office, workers are finding that Zoom meetings are still a central aspect of the day.

We've had two return to office events – one in October 2021 (the lull between Delta and Omicron), and again in March 2022 (post-Omicron). Both times, I find myself sitting at a desk on calls with teams I collaborate with all over the globe. I do see value in going back – my whole team decided that we'd be in the office on Tuesdays, so all of our 1:1 meetings, department meetings, and workshops are in-person. It's been nice, really. But all of the "work" that I do is in support of teams based out of New York City, Miami, London, Dublin, Brussels, Dubai, Sydney, and Singapore. And I'm not exactly hurting for collaboration opportunities.

Stephen Bolen, masked, sitting at a table at work.
It's me, at work.

The future of work is hybrid

All companies are approaching return of office differently. I am back up to two days per week (I try to front-load and go in on Mondays and Tuesdays), and my wife is only required to go back one (Thursdays). This ensures that we have someone at home at all times for the kids, who no longer need before/after school care, saving us a ton of money in the process.

A recent survey from management consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates showed that only 3% of white-collar employees prefer to work in the office five days a week, and 86% want to work from home at least two days a week. U.S. office occupancy is currently at about 39.5%, according to Kastle Systems, which provides security services for commercial office spaces.

Hybrid work is here to stay, and that study referenced above proves it. We spent 2 full years adapting to life away from a commercial real estate building, long commutes, and cafeteria lunches to want to go back more than 50% of the time. Work is still getting done, companies are still smashing profits, shareholders are still extracting extreme value.

In fact, I find that I'm infinitely more productive at home. I'm able to log on at 6:30am when the kids are getting ready for school and triage my inbox. I'm able to work through what would be my 27 mile commute in rush hour to the office, and I usually take my lunch break at my desk. The kids come home from school and I'm still working through to 4:30-5:00pm, when it's time to make dinner and get on with activities.

I don't want to give that up, and I'm sure my employer doesn't want me to spend productive hours in my car when I can be getting just as much - if not more! - done at home. I don't mind going in two days per week, but don't really want more than that.

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