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Back to School, Back to Work?

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In just a few weeks, almost all American public schools are fully-reopening for in-person instruction. It may look a little different, kids may be asked to wear masks indoors, desks may be further apart, lunch rooms may remain distanced, but the overwhelming consensus is kids need to be physically present with their teachers and classmates once more. This begs the question of whether or not people should come back to the office or continue working from home?

Certainly, for responsible, self-directed employees with good time-management skills, continuing to work full-time or part-time from home has its benefits. No need to take off work when kids are sick or schools have holidays. No worrying about last-minute end-of-day meetings when kids are waiting to be picked up (they’ll just join by phone!). Getting dinner in the oven and doing a load of laundry while working at the same time. It’s all great!

The situation isn’t all bad for employers either. Less absenteeism for childcare-related issues. Increased productivity (numerous studies have shown at-home employees often out perform their in-office counterparts due to having fewer distractions at the office). Decreased office space, which can reduce rent costs over time. And increased employee satisfaction.

But, there IS a downside. While at-home employees are often very satisfied with their situations, they should be prepared to stay at the level they’re at for quite some time. When it comes to promotions, visibility matters, and while at-home employees very often do put in far more actual work hours than their in-office counterparts, those same in-office counterparts put in far more hours making the right connections and building the right relationships to be considered for advancement. Similarly, for anyone who wants to lead a team, they need to be accessible to that team. If the team is in the office and its leader is at home, count on decisions to get made away from leadership’s control, which could have disastrous consequences and lead to blow back on the at-home team leader. There’s even the chance that the longer a person works from home the more various people in the office will start to think of that employee as a “clearing house” for busy work no one else wants.

So, what’s the solution? Well, for some, making sure to come into the office a few days a week is the best option. For others, a more full-time scenario may be needed in order

to achieve specific work-related goals or career milestones. Still for others it may mean looking for a company that does 100% remote work, especially if the at-home scenario is too necessary or appealing to give up.

About the VIBE Agency: The VIBE Agency is a Miami-based award-winning full-service production agency that specializes in the creation and orchestration of live and virtual experiences for the corporate industry.   The agency is forward-thinking and was recognized as one of the 50 top event companies by Special Events magazine in 2019 and 2020.  Most recently, Valerie Bihet, founder of the VIBE was named a Smart Women in Meetings 2021 Hall of Fame honoree by Smartmeetings, for her consistent work advancing the industry.  If it can’t be live, make it VIBE!

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