Is commuting into the office back? Well, sort of

Traveling for hours every week to and from the office temporarily went out the window during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For some people, working from home provided sweet relief from commuting stress, leading to greater job satisfaction. But others missed the camaraderie and collaboration that comes with meeting in person, and were itching to get back to their routine and colleagues.

Four years on from April 2020, with return-to-office (RTO) mandates becoming standard in companies from Amazon to Google, how is this shift impacting workers?

3 exciting roles hiring right now

The return of the commute

For starters, it turns out commuting is back – sort of.
Through an analysis of transit data this year, it was found that commuting in 10 big cities around the world has recovered since the lockdowns. But, as you might expect, recovery has varied depending on the city. Not every location showed the same patterns of return.

That’s in part because of the variation between companies as to how flexible they are with employees returning to the office, and in turn what office-home ratio is desired by employees.

Some companies are even sending a message that remote working could be the least desirable choice. IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna said last year that remote workers might struggle to get promoted. Less than 12 months later, the company asked all US managers to immediately report to an office or client location at least three days a week.

Employee flexibility

When Owl Labs surveyed the world of work in 2023, it found a consistent theme: Americans want more flexible work, as it makes them feel more productive and balanced (and loyal to their companies).

Some (62%) would even take a pay cut of 10% or more in order to be given that much-desired flexibility. Yet overall, 94% of workers said they could still be convinced to come to the office.

Meanwhile, 68% of managers believe that their hybrid/remote employees are missing out on impromptu or informal feedback.

‘Coffee badging’

Some people are back in the office by choice, eager to take advantage of face time with colleagues. But for others, office time is unnecessary. The survey found that while 66% of respondents are back in the office full time, only 22% want to be.

With RTO mandates coming in thick and fast, we’re now seeing reports of trends like ‘Coffee Badging’, and ‘Office Peacocking’.

‘Coffee Badging’ sees a person turning up at the office, making sure they’re seen––and then grabbing a coffee before making their exit. Owl Labs found 58% of hybrid employees are undertaking this behavior.

On the other hand, ‘Office Peacocking’ sees the employer trying to make the workplace more enticing, laying on the perks in order to encourage people to stay longer in the office.

But the presenteeism seen in ‘Coffee Badging’ could impact on your role. It’s all well and good to show up at the office and then dash off to work from home, but your manager might not share your enthusiasm for this new technique.

Yet in feeling frustration about your company’s approach, you might discover there are alternative careers you’d like to explore, where your desired mode of working – remote, hybrid or office – matches the company’s. Some companies are even completely or mostly remote, particularly in the tech start-up arena.

Career passion

If you do show up at the office, it’s better to do it for a job you are passionate about, where neither you nor your manager feel like you’re phoning it in.

As to what matters to employees when it comes to returning to the office, Owl Labs found that greater office privacy, no dress code and companies paying commuting costs ranked high on the list of desires.

Some employees will find negotiating their ideal situation a breeze, but others will use this change as a chance to seek out new pastures. Employers should note that the same report found that one in three workers would start to look for a new job if an RTO mandate is introduced at their workplace.

If you’re looking for a new role that matches the flexibility you desire, visit The Hill Jobs Board to check out who’s hiring, like these roles below.

Federal Civilian Enterprise Account Director, Adobe, McLean

Join the Adobe team as Federal Civilian Enterprise Account Director delivering government solutions to US Federal Civilian customers, other agencies across government, employee intranets, and to mission environments that support the U.S.

Government Relations Coordinator, Topsoe, Washington D.C.

Topsoe is a leading global provider of technology and solutions for the energy transition. It seeks a Government Relations Coordinator to be located in Washington, D.C. You’ll support the building of, and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders including senior global government officials.

Licensed Therapist (Remote), Two Chairs

This fully remote role is for a Licensed Therapist looking to work a 40-hour schedule, including an average of 25 scheduled sessions a week, between 8am and 7pm (Pacific Time) Monday to Friday, with weekends off.

If you’re looking to find your ideal level of job flexibility, take a look at the roles available now on The Hill Jobs Board

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