Image credits: Jezael Melgoza
News Article

A Dreadful Return to the Office

By Cinthya Alaniz Salazar | Mon, 07/12/2021 - 14:50

Now that 37 percent of Mexico’s adult population has been vaccinated, business and offices are beginning to open up and are asking their employees to come back. According to the Best Practice Institute, 83 percent of business executives want employees to return to the office permanently while only 10 percent of employees wish to return full time. Employees all over the world are now pushing back on a full return to the office for various reasons ranging from long commute times to flexible work hours.  

Mexico City is the fourth largest city in the world, home to over 21 million people and, as typical of large cities, long commutes. According to a survey conducted by Kokatu respondents cited three main reasons for their unwillingness to return to the office full time and they include: traffic, contracting COVID-19 and not being able to establish their office hours. For starters, according to the INEGI Census of 2020, 27 percent of Mexicans make between 31 minutes and 2 hours of commute to work one way alone. In addition, with the arrival of a more aggressive COVID-19 variant some people are concerned about the efficacy rate of available vaccines in Mexico, specifically CanSino who only has 65 percent effectiveness. Lastly, flexible hours let employees manage their working hours according to their individual needs.  

This is not to say that employees find no value in going into the office, according to a survey by Indeed 73 percent missed socializing in person, 64 percent missed fewer distractions at the office compared to working from home and 63 percent of employees report working more due to not taking breaks during the day. Months of isolation and multiple studies have made clear that humans need social interaction and a lack of it can actually be physically detrimental. Therefore, after months of quarantine people are eager to resume social rituals  that they have been deprived of.  

Remote work goes against the traditional nine to five model but the pandemic forced businesses to adapt in order to survive. This unintended social experiment demonstrated to employers and employees alike that the previous status quo is unnecessary and outdated. In fact, a study conducted by OCC Mundial and elaborated by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) identified that 62 percent of Mexican employees would like to keep the hybrid working model. 

Some companies have already stated a willingness to have employees work from home full time such as Twitter, Amazon and Facebook. Other employers including Apple, the Washington magazine and Morgan Stanley have expressed disappointment and even issued threats to its employees for refusing to come back to the office full time. Results are mixed, but it is presumed that the hybrid work model is here to stay. 

Ultimately, the pandemic has provided a shift in power from employers to employees and they are using their new found leverage to demand changes to the previous nine to five working model. The hybrid working model allows employees to avoid daily traffic congestion, reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19 and keep greater control of their work schedule. This in addition to all the benefits of presential work including social interaction, continued exchange of ideas and innovation. Although it's unclear what the standard hybrid working model will look like, it evident that employees are no longer willing to accept the previous nine to five model regardless of the employer.  

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Best Practice Institute, Kokatu, INEGI Census, Indeed, OCC Mundial, Boston Consulting Group
Photo by:   Jezael Melgoza
Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Journalist & Industry Analyst