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Editorial: Is an office return a good thing?

Whatever makes an employee the most productive is the best option

Deciding to mandate that federal public servants return to the office at least two to three days a week is a complex issue that can be viewed from different perspectives.

Specific benefits and drawbacks of such a policy will depend on factors such as the nature of the work being done, the physical layout and safety of the office, the needs and preferences of the employees and the broader social and economic context.

In general, returning to the office can provide opportunities for in-person collaboration, networking and training that may be beneficial for employee productivity and morale. On the other hand, it can also increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission or other respiratory illnesses and place undue burdens on employees who have caregiving responsibilities or live in areas with fewer transportation options, such as some outlying areas of qathet Regional District.

Some also argue that remote work has been a valuable option to improve employee work-life balance, increase access to job opportunities for remote workers, and reduce carbon emissions.

Ultimately, whether or not a return-to-office mandate is a “good thing” will depend on how well it is implemented and how well it balances the competing concerns of employee health and well-being, productivity, and social and environmental impact.

For employees, can you be efficient at home, with distractions that can pull you away from your day job? Does brainstorming suffer via Zoom or virtual chats? Do you miss chatting with co-workers at the water cooler, or your favourite lunchtime restaurant or cafe? Is eating leftovers for lunch getting old?

From an employer’s standpoint, whether it’s the federal government or a small business, the most important determination is whether the work is being completed at the expected standard of quality, and on time.

Whatever makes an employee the most productive is the best option. In other words, don’t fix what isn’t broken.


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