Why The Return To The Offices Stresses Out Many Workers

May 29, 2021 by

The good news and the bad news, for the indecisive about returning to the office, is that we are in an incredibly unique moment in time.

After many months of being asked to work remotely, your organization is now asking you to come back to the office.

Should you go?

“The decision is really stressing me out,” says Tom Miller, a Sales Representative for a Manufacturing firm in Chicago.  He reports that this decision is all his coworkers are talking about.

“What is it going to be like?”

“What are we going to do?”

The decision is complicated, even if you agree with your employer’s plans for Covid safety.  Some organizations will force their workers to come back to the office, while others will offer their workers a choice.

So, if you feel you are being forced to return to the office, how much should you resist?  Many can’t help but wonder whether refusing to go back, will hurt their career.

Moreover, other factors include the benefits of working from home, such as:

  • Sleeping in and/or staying up late.
  • Taking your child to school or to the bus stop.
  • Shopping online at your leisure.
  • Sneaking in a workout during the day.
  • Avoiding the hassles and cost of commuting to an on-site office.
  • Spending more time with your family.

Experts recommend that workers be especially careful about pushing back on the decision if they are early in their careers.  Likewise, more tenured workers may have more leverage in insisting they continue to work from home.  These workplace experts also recommend that you carefully consider how much clout you have with your employer.  Examples include:

  • How important are you and your skillset to your organization?
  • How much do you contribute to your organization’s success and profitability?
  • How much do your coworkers depend upon you?
  • How hard would it be for your organization to replace you if you left?
  • Will continuing to work from home tarnish your chances for promotion?
  • Are you open to take a pay cut or reduced benefits if you can stay working remotely?

Interestingly, Prudential Insurance reports that most workers do not want to go back to the office, at least not every day.  According to their data, nine out of ten workers say they want to work from home at least one day each week after the pandemic is over.  Furthermore, according to the same survey, one in three workers said they were unwilling to work for an organization that forced them to be in the on-site office full-time.  Moreover, the same study said 43% of remote workers would be nervous about their job security if they stayed at home when others returned to the on-site office.

So, what are the most useful tips in determining the risks of continuing to work from home versus going back to the office?  Here are five:

  • Examine whether your organization is offering benefits to workers who come back such as free parking or free meals?
  • Try and determine whether your organization is hiring from afar. Are new employees being onboarded into fully remote roles?
  • Is your organization shedding real estate as many other employers are currently doing? If so, it may mean that your organization is fully committed to the flexible model of remote work.
  • Pay close attention to what your leaders are doing, not saying. For example, do you see your leaders meeting in person or zooming?
  • Ask your Manager if continuing to work remotely would affect your future opportunities. If she/he says “no,” you have your decision made for you.


Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Email: kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com