Should We Stick With Remote Work or Return to the Office?

With the heated debate around employers bringing employees back from remote work, there may be one group that’s happier than you might expect—IT Professionals—or maybe not.

When I think of IT professionals and remote work, the first thing that comes to mind is when I used to work in a corporate office and needed to call the HelpDesk to save me from myself constantly.

They would do their best to help me remotely, tap into my computer, and solve all my tech issues—which there was no shortage of. 

But occasionally, they would need to come to find me in the office, access my computer or printer, and save the day.

That’s getting close to 15 years ago—the tech world has changed dramatically since that time.

I’ll let you in on a secret—when I was asked to write about National IT Professionals Day with a perspective of remote work, I didn’t think the article would go the way it goes below if you keep reading.

There has been a lot of talk about remote work and the push CEOs are making to bring people back to the office, which gets me a little fired up because I don’t necessarily agree with them.

However, it challenged my opinion once I started digging into the research about remote work and how it’s impacting IT Professionals.

The Great and Powerful Oz Has Been Exposed

I loved watching The Wizard of Oz as a child, and still enjoy it now. 

Toward the end of the movie, there is a scene where Dorothy and her friends stand in front of the Great and Powerful Oz to make their requests, but Toto pulls back a curtain to reveal that Oz is really just an ordinary man sitting behind a curtain, pulling strings.

None of it was real.

When the pandemic started, CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and others needed their workers to adapt to working from home so they could continue to grow their companies.

They sang the praises of remote work and how it would benefit everyone involved.

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They even threw out trendy words like “work-life balance” to convince everyone that this major change would actually be a great opportunity.

Now, a few years later, they are trying to change their tune to force employees back to the office because they want to continue to grow their companies.

The pandemic and the need to shift to remote work peeled back the curtain, like in The Wizard of Oz.

It showed employees they didn’t really need to sit at the office to get their work done, and there’s no going back from that now.

We know the truth—many jobs can be completed from home without the commute, allowing us additional time in our personal lives.

At this point, to argue these CEOs are concerned about what’s best for their employees is frivolous; they’re concerned about what they believe is best for their bottom line.

But What About the IT Professionals Making Remote Work Possible

I’ll be honest—I’m a huge fan of remote work.

As a self-employed writer and digital marketer, there’s no need for me to sit in an office building all day. 

And I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity and ability to work from home because I also homeschool my three daughters.

Over the years, I’ve had plenty of video meetings with clients and even a few in-person meetings.

But for the most part, I’m sitting at at home working alone.

My personal experience makes me think this should be an option for everyone all the time in an ideal world.

But there’s another side that many of us, including me, aren’t familiar with—the world of IT professionals.

Remember, those people who are crucial to keeping all the tech things running for a company.

Remote work and hybrid options haven’t been as great for all of them.

IT Professionals Are Quiet Quitting

There have been a lot of conversations in the past about occupations that were struggling at high levels due to the challenges that occurred due to the pandemic.

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These conversations mostly centered around medical professionals and teachers.

However, you can now add IT Professionals to the list.

Here are some of the numbers coming out:

  • 1 in 4 IT professionals are burnt out.
  • Their workload increased by 73% due to remote and hybrid work.
  • When working remotely, they are 2.5 times more likely to work long hours.

If you look at those numbers, you might think that IT Professionals want to return to the office and eliminate remote work altogether.

You would think that they would be all for the CEOs pushing to bring workers back to the office to reduce their workloads, but that’s not necessarily true.

In fact, the vast majority of them want to continue working remotely. 

So, how should companies navigate these situations?

How do you make everyone happy while continuing to grow your company—which needs to happen so employees can keep receiving paychecks?

Take a Customized Approach

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say we’re tired of “mandates.” 

There are very few situations and circumstances in life or work where a one-size-fits-all approach is the best option.

It may be easier to try to force one thing across the board, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in life and business, it’s that the easy way isn’t usually the right way.

Trust Employees to Do What’s Best in Their Roles

I think it’s time for organizations to begin to put some of the power in the hands of their employees. 

Hire the right people who fit the company culture and care about the vision and mission of the organization, and then allow them to control where and how they work.

It’s time for more companies to move away from telling employees how to do things and instead share what the desired outcome is while allowing flexibility and creativity in how to get there.

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Making this change could lead to innovation throughout organizations and industries.

It would allow new ideas to flourish instead of doing things the way we always have.

Would this mean taking a new approach to how you train and manage employees?

Of course, but maybe it’s time for a change like that.

Think Outside of the Box for Team Building

Employees don’t need to be talking about the latest episode of whatever their favorite show is at the moment around the water cooler to build connections with each other.

And forcing people to sit in a lunchroom together doesn’t make them friends—and let’s be honest—most people eat from their desks anyway.

Using the excuse of “better collaboration and team building” as a way to force people back to the office is lazy.

There, I said it.

There are plenty of companies that made enormous strides throughout the last several years, even with people working remotely.

You can allow people to choose where they work and still find ways for them to connect.

I work as a contractor for three different companies, some of which I’ve worked with for more than five years, while not having met face-to-face at all.

We still collaborate on new ideas, share life stories with one another, and keep the companies growing.

Where Do You Stand on the Remote Work or Back to the Office Debate?

Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to both remote work and being in the office.

Those advantages and disadvantages vary from employee to employee and company to company.

But if even IT Professionals, the individuals who are burdened by remote work the most, still largely support it, why wouldn’t we continue to pursue it for every job where it’s possible to work from home?

What are your thoughts? 

Should CEOs be demanding employees back to the office?

Or should employees hold the power to determine where they work best?

Let’s continue the conversation in the comments.

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