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Friday Cannon Fodder: in the office?

Houston Chronicle Photo by Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Good Friday morning, TSFers. Arsenal return to action tomorrow, which is fantastic because I’ve been losing my mind over here without Premier League and Champions League football to watch. International breaks are dumb.

On Gunner’s walk (Gunner is the rescue pup), my partner and I discussed her law firm’s return to office policy. Apparently there were concerns among the rank and file that the firm might be changing their generous, easy-going policy where people are “encouraged” to come in three times a week but there are no requirements that they come in at all.

It’s a conversation I’ve had with a number of people lately about how their company / office is handling things. It seems like there was an initial push in 2021 or so, when offices were “safe” again and that now there is another push to get people back to in-person work.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on the issue, but I can see that there are compelling reasons on both sides of the discussion. I think it’s an artifact of my being in that weird, in-between generation — the one where I’m old enough to remember a time without the internet and all the technology that permeates our lives but young enough to be comfortable and facile with it.

I understand the value and importance of in-person interactions in the office, both from a work and social standpoint. You don’t build relationships with your coworkers nor positive company culture when you’re not seeing people and interaction face-to-face. Passing somebody in the hallway might lead to a positive exchange about how the kids are doing, or from the work side of things, trigger a novel idea about a work project / problem. And those are just examples.

On the other hand, working from home is more flexible. It saves people time, money, and headache because they don’t have to commute. Taking cars off the road is better for the environment, too. It lets people set their own schedule, to an extent. If they work better later in the day or in the evening, they can do their work then, or if they have kids to ferry to and from school, practice, whatever, they can work around that more readily. And if people are getting the same amount and quality of work done, does it really matter where that is taking place?

It definitely cuts both ways, and I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer. For those of you who work in an office, what have you been doing? What does your company require? And how is that going?