The Case for Returning to the Workplace

Published: May 8, 2024

If you are really going to make me add a 90-minute commute to my workday, I’ll have to work for an hour and a half less. Fine. As long as we’re not counting billable hours, I’ll exchange productivity for whatever benefits you decide result from water cooler conversation. Also fine. I’ll catch the bus, ride the elevator, park myself at my workstation, and wait for you to drop by my office with a creative idea that never would have happened if not face-to-face.

Sarcasm aside, some of us are tired of managing all of our collaboration from our living room, or wherever in our homes has the best Zoom background.

The answer isn’t one or the other. Depending on your industry, work setting, and role, you can make a compelling case for either remote, onsite, or hybrid collaboration. So, make your case. Even if your employer has communicated a policy, go ahead and argue for the circumstances that best support your contribution to the team.

Or just do what’s best. Why wait for permission? By the time you’ve reached your mid-career or later, your employer needs you more than you need them. So, assert yourself. If it isn’t well received, perhaps your workplace is funding your job hunt. Maybe your talent fits better elsewhere.

It’s not binary, even if the boss has dichotomized your options. It’s nuanced. A tech support colleague might be equally valuable from any location. A creative director might be more convincing to the engineering department if debating in the same geography. Every teammate has a unique argument.

It’s not about maximizing convenience or minimizing virus prevention. It’s about optimizing teamwork. Make the case.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.