It’s May 15, 2021. I’ve had both doses of the Pfizer Bio n-Tech vaccine and it’s been more than two weeks since my last injection. Science and the CDC now say that I am good to go without a mask.* I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this news. Are you really sure, Dr. Fauci? Dr. Walensky? Laura?
With this week’s news that fully immunized Americans can go without a mask indoors, many are wondering if it’s really ok. We’ve just spent more than a year hiding from the threat of Covid. We’ve taken heed of the dire warnings. We’ve seen the news coverage. We’ve lost loved ones. Life without masks is going to take a little getting used to.
I think that most of us are in the same place. We are overjoyed that we can now spend time with family and loved ones we haven’t hugged in ages. We can see each other’s smiles as we greet neighbors in the grocery store. We can gather again inside. This is the day we’ve been waiting for. Right?
Let us not forget that many of us are and have been out in the world because of our jobs. Healthcare workers, essential public safety and health professionals, grocery and food supply workers, and scores of other employees have been “out there” without a break.
For the last year, public health experts have told us time and again that if you don’t socially distance and wear a mask, you could die. So, as more people get vaccinated and we accelerate toward a new normal, is it any wonder that some people are feeling hesitant to let go of those precautions?Christina Caron, “The Nervous Person’s Guide to Re-entering Society,” The New York Times, April 22, 2021.
For those who have been working remotely these past 14 months, going back to the office may be THE thing you have been waiting for. Aren’t we up to here with Zoom? Those in-person meetings we used to dread now sound like the most wonderful thing. We’re missing our co-workers and our company culture that’s (hopefully) geared to that sweet spot of feeling engaged and productive without feeling like a grind. It’s far easier to work where you have organized your space for your job. The things you need are at hand. The internet is more reliable. You don’t have to work on a laptop. Some of us rely on that dedicated space to switch on our work mindset. Everyone else is working with you – it’s a study hall type of activity that your brain registers as the place and the environment in which I do my work. These employees have had a heck of a time with remote work and they are more than eager to return to their workplaces.
In a recent survey of employees at the country’s largest employers, these employees are in the minority.
By week three of working from home, the novelty had worn off for me. I didn’t have a dedicated space in my house and my kitchen table was not a great set up. We were only prepared to be away for a few weeks. I was completely astonished in early March 2020 when my boss said that we’d likely be working away from the office for three weeks. Once the writing was on the wall that this arrangement was in place indefinitely, my back and I decided we needed to get a proper desk chair, a separate keyboard for the laptop, task lighting, and so forth.
Now, I am one of the millions of work-from-home employees who is really thriving. The thought of returning to my workplace finds me a little more than hesitant to return to “normal.” There are no shortage of articles for employers and employees to help make this transition go more smoothly. Forbes, Harvard Business Review, the Society for Human Resource Management, and HR departments around the world are advocating an easing-in process versus a sharp recall of all remote employees.
However, employers may have an entirely different situation on their hands. A recent survey by the professional network, Blind, asked employees at some of the nation’s largest corporate employers how they would answer if they were given a choice between a permanent work-from-home arrangement or a $30,000 raise. A surprising majority of 64 percent chose working from home. The percentages of employees who would forego the healthy pay-raise at mega-corporations looks like this:
62 % Microsoft
76% Salesforce“Work from home or a $30K raise? Employees said it wasn’t even close,” Andy Medici, Portland Business Journal, May 13, 2021
For me? I think that I will take curtain number 1, Monty. As I am within sight of retirement, I’m all about building wealth for my future when I can work from home more easily and be self-employed. I also live in small town rural America. Even if I commute out of my hometown to one of two cities, it’s an easy 60 minute drive. When I’ve made that commute before, it allowed time for me to prepare for work or process the day’s events on the way home.
That said, if it were a choice between returning to my place of work without a significant cash incentive or working from home, I’d definitely choose working from home. I have enjoyed many benefits of WFH. It’s a much less stressful environment. I can work in silence or with The Greatest Hits of Creedence Clearwater Revival. I do not have to get out on harsh winter days. I can let my dog out or take a break to run errands. I have done well with this change.
What about you? Would you take the raise or would you rather spiff up a new home office? Let me know in the comments!