21 reasons why we want to return to the office

Remote working is a wonderful thing. It allows us to carry on with life, no matter where in the world we are.

But despite this, the last 18 months has taught us that working remotely for long periods of time isn’t always as good as it sounds. From social isolation and falling into lazy eating habits, to a lack of a routine and a difficulty separating work life from home life.

Many people are eager to return to the office – even if it’s just for a few days a week. And here are the top 21 reasons why.

1. The commute

The daily commute was perhaps the first thing that people were glad to be rid of at the start of lockdown. But it quickly became the thing that many people missed the most!

After a few weeks of simply rolling out of bed and stumbling to the kitchen, the novelty seemed to wear off for some. Indeed, many people have admitted that the commute from home to work really helped them to carve a line between work life and home life – and it helped them get into gear for the working day, too.

Whether it’s a quiet hour on the subway listening to your favorite podcast, or a 30-minute drive with nothing but your internal monologue for company, we totally understand why you might have started to miss the daily commute.

2. The routine

The freedom you get when working from home isn’t always as dreamy as it sounds. After all, it’s just as easy to oversleep as it is to carry on working into the night. Let’s be honest, sometimes when we’re working from home, we’re all over the place.

But when we work from the office, there’s more of a routine for most people. Colleagues tend to take their lunch breaks around a similar time, and there’s a more definitive start and end to the day.

It’s nice to have the flexibility to work to your own schedule once in a while, but many people are craving the clockwork routine of being back in the office again.

3. The dedicated working space

Not everybody has a dedicated workspace at home. For example, younger workers who still live at home with their parents are often forced to work from the same room that they sleep in. And most people don’t find they can dedicate a sole room for working anyway – meaning that no matter which way you look at it, you’re always sharing a workspace with something in your personal life. Whether that’s eating, sleeping, or just relaxing.

Most people are looking forward to going back to the office, because they miss having a dedicated workspace which does not bleed into other areas of their personal lives.

4. The friendships

For some people, the office is their sole source of social stimulation. You see, not everybody goes home to a wild social life full of friends and family members. And as we spend more than 33% of our lives at work, our strongest friendships are bound to be formed in the workplace.

According to CNBC, work friendships are critical for our long-term happiness.

So whether it’s simply enjoying a game of ping pong during your break, or having somebody to hang out with after the office is locked up on an evening, we understand why people are eager to get back to the office and rekindle their friendships.

5. The romance

For many people, the office is a great source of romantic encounters. And if you think that stories of office romance are mostly consigned to fiction, then think again – according to Forbes, 58% of people have engaged in a romantic relationship with a colleague.

Not everybody is confident enough, or able enough, to go out socializing in their free time. Yet this doesn’t mean they don’t want to find love. Which is why the office sometimes becomes the first chapter in a life-long relationship between two soulmates.

But whether it’s a brief encounter at the office party, or a 50-year partnership sparked by a chance meeting at the coffee machine, there’s no doubt that people are excited to get back to the office and practice their flirting again.

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6. The professional relationships

The relationships we form in the office are not always personal. Many people use the office as a way to build their professional network.

You might think that we’re stating the obvious here, but it’s actually quite an important point. Think about it – when you’re working remotely, you only tend to rub shoulders with the people you directly work with. However, when you’re working alongside people from different departments (or even different companies, if you rent office space in a shared block), then you start to form a different sort of professional network.

This is how people naturally find new opportunities and strategic new connections. It’s how people learn about other departments, in order to improve their own. And it’s how great ideas are born, and how long-lasting professional relationships are developed.

7. The food options

While many of us became culinary wizards while working from home, most of us sorely miss the food options available to us at the office. Whether it’s the office canteen, the well-stocked vending machine, or the local cafes and artisan sandwich shops nearby – chances are, you took it all for granted until it disappeared.

It’s not just the easy access to snacks and meals that people miss about office food, though. It’s the social side that comes with eating, too. For example, going on a sandwich run is the perfect chance to catch up on your colleagues’ weekend antics. Plus, eating together is known to build culture and strengthen teams!

And that’s why most people are eager to leave their instant noodles at home when they return to the office.

8. The Monday huddles

Many people miss the Monday-morning huddles in the office. This is where your team comes together to really motivate one another – hash out any tensions carried over from the week before, and focus priorities on the week ahead.

While some teams have tried to continue with morning huddles via Zoom, most people find that nothing replaces the in-person huddle. There’s just something about being there in person that seems to help people feed off each other’s energy, for a true dose of Monday motivation.

9. The Friday drinks

The office is far more than just a place of work. It’s a meeting point for friends, and a springboard for many out-of-hours activities.

Take the idea of Friday drinks, for example. These tend to be fun and effective because everybody is already together when the week comes to an end. It’s easy to head straight to a bar and catch up over a few beers, which tends to strengthen teams – and there’s nothing complicated to organize or arrange.

In order to achieve the same result while working remotely, it takes a lot more organizing. People have to come together from multiple points. And in all honesty? Most of them can’t be bothered.

And that’s why people are eager to get back to the office, and start heading out for Friday drinks again – the best way to celebrate the end of a hard week’s work.

10. The body language

It’s shocking how much we rely on body language to understand each other. But it’s one of those things that we only notice when it suddenly isn’t there!

Business psychologists tend to agree that relying on only digital communication is not the most effective way to work. Sentiments can easily be misconstrued, and people are quicker to take offence – or slower to understand the seriousness of a situation.

It is thought that at least 70% of communication is non-verbal. So it’s not surprising to learn that people want to get back to the office so they can have more meaningful conversations again.

11. The peace and quiet

If you have a hectic home situation, then returning to the office is like visiting a tranquil sanctuary.

Most people share their home lives with others. Whether this is a partner who is also working from home, or a house full of noisy children, it’s safe to say that working from home isn’t always quiet and distraction free.

A lot of people say that they can’t wait to get back to the office simply because it is quieter than their home situation.

12. The background noise

For some people, home life is too quiet. This is especially true for people who live alone.

A lot of people who are excited to return to the office, are looking forward to the gentle buzz of office atmosphere in the background. The constant hum of chit-chat between desks, the occasional whirring of the coffee machine, and the clickety-clack of the office printer.

Not everybody likes background noise, but a lot of people do. And many people only realized = just how much they liked it, when it suddenly wasn’t there.

13. The banter

Sometimes, the things we miss about physically working with others are the simple things. Such as the silly little jokes we tell each other as the day goes along.

Office ‘banter’ is a difficult thing to define, but for many, a difficult thing to live without. After all, it’s fun – and helps the day pass by.

And if you think that there’s no place for joking around and having fun at work, then think again. A 2015 study by the University of Warwick found that employees who are having fun, are between 12 and 20% more productive!

14. The dress code

We’re all familiar with the term ‘Donald Ducking’ by now. But actually, while many people do tend to dress less formally when working from home, many people are missing the office because it gives them a good excuse to get dressed properly in the morning.

When you’re only going as far as your kitchen, getting dressed properly can feel like a waste of effort. But getting ready and putting your work gear on often makes people feel more motivated and more confident.

15. The face-to-face meetings

Almost everybody is familiar with Zoom meetings now. But while they certainly bridge the gap that comes with distance, nothing quite beats a face-to-face meeting with colleagues.

Lots of people are missing the office, and eager to return, simply so that they can swap the video calls for real meetings.

Not only are they more engaging and fulfilling, but they’re less likely to spring at you from nowhere when you’re not wearing any pants.

16. The scenery

For many organizations, a lot of thought goes into office planning. From working out the optimum location to balance convenience with cost, to placing windows in just the right position to let the right amount of light in.

And because many office blocks are located in prime real estate areas, the surrounding scenery isn’t always too bad, either. From overlooking parks and lakes, to being great spots for people watching, many people miss the interesting scenery that comes with travelling to an office to work.

17. The air conditioning

In the summertime, when the weather is fine… you might find yourself wishing you’d invested in an air conditioning unit for your home office!

While the optimum office temperature may indeed be the source of many disagreements and arguments, most decent office spaces do at least have the option of regulating this temperature pretty easily. And people who work in places where weather conditions can be extreme, appreciate that they can control their climate during the height of the day.

18. The decent furniture

Furniture was perhaps one of the most underlooked issues of working from home – but one of the most critical. How quickly did you realize that your kitchen stools were not great for sitting on for eight hours in a day?

Many people miss the office because the furniture is designed with optimum working conditions in mind. From adjustable seats with proper back supports, to ergonomic hand rests and comfortable desk spaces.

Read more: CIPD research indicates that mixing home and office working will increase substantially

It’s nice to spend a day or two working from the sofa here and there, but many people are eager to get back to an environment with decent working furniture.

19. The visitors

One element of office life that people were surprised to find they missed, was the random visitors you might see throughout the day.

Whether it’s a client arriving for a sales demonstration, or even a health and safety officer arriving for a surprise inspection. Not all visitors were necessarily welcomed with open arms… but many people have since said that they miss them, simply because of the way they broke up the day by adding unpredictable variety.

20. The cleaners

Who’d have thought that we’d miss the office cleaner? But it turns out, we do.

Our home office bathroom doesn’t magically clean itself. Our desk doesn’t dust itself, either. And our floors seem to need vacuuming more often than they used to!

Office cleaners were often taken for granted, because they would do their job early in the morning or late at night when nobody was around. But as with many other office characters, the cleaners are some of those we miss the most.

21. The sick days

Fewer employees take sick days when they work from home. But this isn’t necessarily a good sign.

You see, when you have to physically show up to the office to do your job, taking a sick day means you actually get to focus on your recovery. But when we’re all working remotely, it’s easy to try and battle through the illness and force yourself to ‘go to work’, even if you’re not fit enough to do so.

While nobody likes to take a sick day, people do miss working from the office – where taking a day off sick actually meant being able to rest and recover.