Should we say goodbye to the five-day-a-week office?

You might have missed reports this week about a surging US economy, fueled by vaccination rates that have enabled many businesses to reopen, Americans eager to get back outside, and relief checks and other government-led financial support that have helped drive increases in consumer spending. Predictions of GDP growth of 7.5% in 2021 would be, as the AP reported, “the best annual performance since 1951.

That got me thinking about the wonders of science (thanks Dr. Fauci and vaccine researchers) and the razor-thin victory of President Biden in a number of key states (thanks Stacey Abrams and other get-out-the-vote workers). But a visit to an Irish pub to watch a basketball game with my daughter made it possible to overhear a conversation of thirty-something workers bemoaning the fact that soon they’ll be expected to stop working remotely and come back to the office.

That got me reflecting on the question of whether the pandemic has shown those of us who’ve been lucky enough to have jobs and work from home that we can be productive—indeed more productive—if we aren’t shackled by the obligation to show up by 9 and stay to 5 Monday through Friday. I’ve been hearing that some employers have already reconsidered the equation and proposed making Monday or Friday (or both) optional days to work from home.

What do you think? Should the five-day-a-week office become a thing of the past? Can a different combination increase productivity, improve work/life balance and, in many cases, cut down on long commutes? Or is there a risk that continuing a version of pandemic Zoom life will undermine the benefits only gained when people are compelled to come together every day and share their trials, tribulations—and insights? What has been your experience?

As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and learning from you.


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