Will returning to the office boost productivity?


Ainsley Howard

A number of people enjoy working from home and it has increased their productivity and positively affected their mental health. Others like going to the office because it gets them out of the house and into a social environment with other co-workers. (Photo Illustration)

Tami-Ann Treasure, Opinion and Editorials Editor

Working from home was the main method of keeping the workforce afloat when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020. With the introduction of vaccines and safety protocols in place, employers are now trying to get workers to return to the office and out of the comfort of their homes.

The question is do they want workers in the office to boost productivity or simply to satisfy their need to monitor employees? There are pros and cons to working from home with the pros no doubt outweighing the cons.

Working from home fosters personal, mental and emotional growth. Such is the case with Colin Dose, a student based on the Cartersville campus.

“Working from home helps me to sustain a regular schedule and work at my own pace,” Dose said.

Knowing that you are working in a comfortable, secure environment improves your mental capacity to get your work done. I know I am better focused in the comfort of my home with no human interaction.

There is more time to improve one’s health and exercise and a decreased risk of illness. Working from home gives me more time to plan my daily meals and find time to attend yoga and pilates sessions as well.

As we are experiencing high prices due to inflation, working from home also helps to save on fuel and vehicle wear and tear.

GHC Associate Professor of English, Michelle Abbott, said, “Because I travel to campus at my own expense annually, and because I bring my parents and children… my annual trip to Georgia–just the work-related part of the trip–is about $2500.”

Abbott has been a fully online instructor since 2014, helping students from out of state, 12 hours away from the campus.

Some employers believe that workers need to be present in the office to be more productive. I don’t believe that workers need to be micromanaged to get work done and the pandemic proved this.

“I feel more productive working from home than in-office because there are fewer distractions,” GHC Professor of Communications, Dana Pergrem, said.

This is not the case for everyone, as GHC Professor of English, Cindy Wheeler said that she gets very distracted when working at home. There is always something to divert attention to. Be it the TV, a book, a device or even chores. Being in the office makes it more productive for her to get her tasks done.

Others are not as affected by distractions.

“I am neurodivergent, so I am good at working in an interrupted way; I’m not frazzled if my kids ask a question while I’m working…” Abbott said.

The cons of working from home will depend on the nature of one’s job. GHC Professor of Psychology, Elizabeth Dose, said, “I never feel done when working from home and my classes feel like they are 24/7.”

There is a constant need to respond to student emails or make clarifications to work assignments which could be limited to office hours.

Conversely, Abbott said that the blended home and work life allow her to be more available for her students than she otherwise would be in the office.

“I often chat with students on phone or via text while I prep dinner or fold laundry,” Abbott said. “Sometimes I miss being in the classroom with students, but for the most part, me working as I do is a win-win.”

Working from home has the potential to make one feel like a loner. Jessica Valdez, an English major at GHC says that working from home promotes less social engagement with peers. This can affect those that need human interactions to thrive.

Everyone has a different work style and some may be more productive in the office versus at home, but this is dependent on each individual. The risk of burnout, lack of teamwork and motivation are important factors, but organized workers have no problem striving in their home environment.

Productivity is not dependent on the environment, but on the worker, and working from home should be applied for a better work-life balance for those who can benefit.