Since the pandemic took root worldwide in late 2019/early 2020, we the people have had to drastically turn our lives upside down.
We went from hugging our family and friends at social gatherings to maintaining a six foot distance at all times. We went from talking freely (and smelling freely) to wearing a mask at all times wherever we traveled. We went from working next to our colleagues all day in the offices to working from home, taking Zoom calls and thinking of presentation ideas all by our lonesome.
This “New Normal” is not how I want the world to be, and I can confidently say that countless people probably agree with me. Which is why when the pandemic passes us by (fingers crossed sooner rather than later), we’re going to want to get back to hugging our family and friends at social gatherings. We’re going to want to get back to talking freely and smelling freely. We’re going to want to get back to working with our colleagues all day in the office. We’re going to want that normalcy back.
I don’t want to get too broad with the topic - and I definitely don’t want it to be centered around the different areas of life the pandemic has changed.
Instead, I want to narrow in and talk about those of us who have been forced to work at home (to keep the population safe, of course). I want to discuss why working from home is not something we humans are going to want to do permanently, in the long run. I firmly believe that we, as a people, will want to get back to working closely together again, for a variety of reasons. Those reasons are what I’ll mention below.
People will want to work in close quarters again because working from home does not promote motivation.
Think about it - staying at home on the laptop, tablet, or cell phone doesn’t necessarily get us motivated. The definition of motivation is the general willingness of a person to want to do something. I know that when I’m at home, I’d rather be lounging on the couch watching television. I’d rather be sleeping past noon. I’d rather be drinking a bottle of pinot noir.
However, the second I sit at a desk in my office, it all changes. I want to see how my colleagues' days are going and I want to bounce ideas off of them. Almost immediately, I want to get everything done on my list of things to do, to exceed expectations. Just being in the presence of other people makes it easier to get the job done.
People will want to work in close quarters again because we’ll have all this built-up energy.
Working from home is such a downer. It’s like we’re warranted to stay in our pajamas all day, lazily moping around the house while we get the bare minimum our job requires us to do done.
It’s the opposite when working in an office. I know that when I have to go in and face my boss, colleagues, and the rest of the world, I put in more effort into my appearance. I get a good night's sleep, wake up early to snack on some breakfast, dress appropriately, and pull myself together. After getting that routine completed, I have this burst of energy (might have something to do with the large coffee cup I drink) and I’m able to get a ton of stuff done.
People will want to work in close quarters again because emotional health is at an all-time low when we’re not surrounded by other people.
I know that when I’m home doing work by myself, there’s nothing that really makes me happy or excited. Sure, there’s nothing that necessarily makes me sad or mad, but that’s beside the point. I’m alone, getting the job done, no distractions, no emotions.
But when I’m in an office, I get to see my co-workers smile or laugh at a joke. I get to smile or laugh at a joke. I feel happy to be around the people I spend my day-to-day life with. I get excited to grab lunch with a dear friend of mine. I become sad when a certain situation doesn’t pan out the way it’s supposed to. I get angry when there’s not enough time in the day to get the stuff I need to get done. My point being, I feel emotions and that’s a healthy part of life. Working from home just doesn’t allow us to reach our full emotional potential.
4 Mental Health
People will want to work in close quarters again because mental health is also at an all-time low when we’re not surrounded by people.
Anxiety and depression settle in when we’re not allowed to socialize and be next to people. We forget how to communicate efficiently (anxiety) and we start to let the sad emotions creep in (depression).
There’s this thing that happens in our brains when we are surrounded by people - a happy chemical, so to speak, is released, ultimately relaxing us. This brings our mental health up, subsiding anxiety and ridding our minds of depression. But in order to have the release of that happy chemical, we have to be in the presence of people.
I know that when I’m at home, cocooned in my blankets and locked away in my room, I spiral downward with my mental health. However, when I’m surrounding myself with people and allowing myself to communicate with them, I instantly feel relief.
People will want to work in close quarters again because there’s too much pressure when we’re part of a one-man team working at home.
It’s hard to be a part of the team when we’re taking notes and gathering ideas from the comfort of our home. Sure, a quick Zoom call could launch and we could go back and forth about what to do next on a particular project, but it’s not the same as developing an in-person connection to get the job done.
I know that the pressure is seriously on me when I’m coming up with brand new ideas from scratch on my own. I feel entirely more comfortable when I have the opportunity to work together with others - even if our ideas clash, at least the conversation is getting us somewhere and the project is getting done. There’s just something about teamwork in reality versus on a screen that takes the pressure away immediately.
People will want to work in close quarters again because we’ll feel the support we’ve been looking for over the past year.
There is no support when working at home. We can phone a friend (or a boss) and we can look up any information we need online to justify what we are saying in a presentation or report, but it’s not the same as in-person, human support.
I know that I genuinely appreciate having a support system in the office, that way I don’t feel all alone at the end of the day. Not to mention I believe that having a support system at work makes the day go by quicker and makes the morale in the company much better.
People will want to work in close quarters again because we’re sick of the isolation.
We know, we understand. Working from home was put into play so that we could keep the population at large and healthy. But after some time, isolation eats away at us and makes us forget how to participate in everyday life.
I know that for me, isolation took a toll on my mental health (as previously discussed). Isolation made my anxiety skyrocket and I had no idea how to avoid that situation. Isolation has really taken a toll on every person in the world over the past year and it’s not healthy to continue to stay locked away in our homes for a long, long time.
People will want to work in close quarters again because we want to nix the stress.
Working from home is so stressful. We can potentially procrastinate a ton of projects, adding stress to our lives. We can get instructed to do something the wrong way, adding stress to our lives. We can make a mistake and wonder how or who to report it to, adding stress to our lives. The list goes on.
I know that being in an office really alleviates stress for me. I have more motivation to get things done. I ask questions if instructions are not communicated to me properly or to my standards. I report a mistake to my higher-ups. That list goes on, too.
I just feel overall more comfortable in an office environment. I think it’s safe to say that most of us feel the same way - unless, of course, you’d rather make your schedule when you want and have that extra freedom in your occupational life. To each their own.
All I know and believe is that we are social beings and we need to be around other people to thrive. We need to be around other people to stay motivated, to have high energy, to express our emotions, to have great mental health, to de-escalate the pressure, to have a support system, to decrease isolation, and to omit stress. And I’ll stand by that.