Where you work matters.
It can impact your productivity, job satisfaction and overall well-being.
Some employees might prefer to sit in an office surrounded by coworkers, while others find it better to work from home. Ultimately, an employee’s work location is determined by their company’s preference for remote or in-office work.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the adaptability of companies and their employees. Remote work was identified as the best solution for social distancing. Employees used platforms such as Zoom and Slack to remain connected to their coworkers.
In today’s post-pandemic world, companies have the choice to alter their workplace models to best suit their businesses and employees. Trends show many companies shifting from strictly remote positions to hybrid or in-office structures.
“We’re still feeling the permanent effects of post-pandemic work,” said Eric Weissmann, executive director of NEXT Upstate, which supports and builds collaboration between entrepreneurs. “There will always be some level of flexibility, measured with … some tendency to work together – to be centered in the same location.”
Best of both worlds
Hybrid work models that combine home and in-office locations have become the norm. According to a Gallup poll, 52% of people use a hybrid schedule, while 29% reported working remotely and 20% only work on-site.
Catherine Culler, a recruiter at Godshall Recruiting, explained hybrid work offers many companies the best opportunity for flexibility and connection.
“A lot of companies like having in-office collaboration where people can be in the office to bounce ideas off of each other,” Culler said. “Since COVID, when work from home became so popular, a lot of employees like the flexibility of having a hybrid schedule.”
How each company enforces a hybrid schedule varies. For example, some employers might only require people to come to the office three days a week. Other companies may leave it up to the employee to determine their in-office work schedule.
Corporations that offer hybrid or remote positions will find fewer employees in the office on a day-to-day basis. When this occurs, it is more cost-effective for companies to downsize to a smaller office space, said Shannon Caldwell, senior associate at commercial real estate firm NAI Earle Furman.
Duke Energy explored this strategy after creating a new post-pandemic workplace model that offers hybrid, virtual, field and onsite positions. The company completed a comprehensive analysis of its real estate portfolio to identify opportunities to consolidate office space.
“As a result of that analysis, we have reduced our space in our Greenville office while expanding our real estate footprint where it makes sense to do so for the benefit of our customers, such as recent expansion of our Columbia office and through construction of the Spartanburg Operations Center,” said Ryan Mosier, spokesman for Duke Energy.
The company also disposed of five facilities and moved into a new corporate headquarters building in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2023. In total, Duke Energy reduced its real estate footprint by more than 1 million square feet in the Carolinas.
Back to office
Other organizations, including Greenville-based bank United Community, continue to prefer the traditional, in-office work structure for its employees.
CEO Lynn Harton said the company never mandated work-from-home policies during the pandemic, though the option was available to employees.
“We saw the impact on the culture,” Harton said. “With some people working from home and some people in the office, you could see tensions coming up in the surveys.”
Deirdre Gallagher, a lead facilitator with JAMS Pathways, an alternative dispute-resolution company, explained the nature of remote work can lead to more problems in the workplace. It can create a sense of isolation and disconnect for employees.
“If you are in the office every day and someone else is remote, it may impact how you are perceiving that person’s contributions,” Gallagher said. “The other challenge when you have remote and you have in-person is that there is a kind of a gap in communication.”
Companies implementing return-to-office policies might find a need to move to larger offices to accommodate employees. They can either build new offices or renovate pre-existing spaces.
“We are seeing companies decide to say, ‘Well, it seems that this trend is going to continue, that people are more comfortable back in the office, and we’re going to go ahead and make the move to increase our size,’” Caldwell said.
To bring all its Greenville-based employees together under one roof, United Community is building a new headquarters in downtown Greenville. It was designed to promote employee connection. The new headquarters is planned to open in March.
“At the end of the day, people will choose different models, and some people will win or lose based on the model they choose, so I think it’s still a debate out there,” Harton said.
Innovative workplaces offer cost-effective solutions for startups
From Amazon to Apple, many successful startup companies have been created in home garages or offices.
Remote-work environments tend to be the standard for early-stage companies as they develop their product and business models. Many startups won’t begin to look for permanent office space until they hire more employees and raise enough money to afford it.
However, working from home can often feel isolating. Founders may explore working out of local innovation centers or co-working spaces in Greenville like Venture X or Endeavor to change up their environment. These offer a social, collaborative space for people from different organizations to come together and work.
“You want to go someplace where other people are building businesses, same as you are,” said Eric Weissmann, executive director of NEXT Upstate, which supports and builds collaboration between entrepreneurs in the area.
A company ready to find a permanent workspace might consider splitting an office space with another company. This cost-effective solution allows employees from both companies to alternate in-office working days.
“That time shifting of you want to be able to use (the office) when you want to use it but when you’re not using it, can somebody else be using it? All those are their economic decisions, as well as mental decisions for the health of your team and for the forward momentum of your venture,” Weissman said.
Remote work models allow employees to work outside the corporate office in a remote location.
- Establishes a more flexible schedule
- Saves time and money on commuting
- Employee controls work-life balance
- Increased feelings of isolation
- More distractions at home
- Increased communication barriers
Hybrid work models use a mix of in-office and remote-work schedules for employees.
- Allows for a flexible work schedule
- More efficient use of time
- Less burnout
- Feel less connected to the organization
- Difficult to coordinate work schedules
- Decreased team collaboration
In-office work models require employees to work in an office environment.
- Better collaboration and communication
- Establishes a structured routine
- Offers more networking opportunities
- Limited flexibility
- Requires a daily commute
- Increased risk of burnout
According to a Gallup poll from May 2023, 52% of remote-capable employees reported working hybrid.
Only 29% of workers reported working exclusively remotely and 20% reported working on-site.
Pros and Cons
According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of people working from home say it helps with work-life balance.
Among employed adults, 56% said working remotely helped them get their work done and meet deadlines.
However, 53% of people said working from home hurt how connected they felt to their coworkers.
Nikki Weiner is an occupational therapist and president of the Greenville-based ergonomics consulting company The Rising Workplace. She shared her seven tips on how to set up a home workstation for people working remotely.
- Find a designated workspace with good natural lighting and limited distractions
- Set up your station at a desk or table
- Use an adjustable chair with good lumbar support
- Adjust the chair so your desk is level with your resting elbow
- If you don’t have a desktop computer, use anything to raise your laptop screen so its at eye level
- Plug in an external mouse and keyboard
- Keep the mouse and keyboard close and centered to your body with your elbows by your side
“It’s really difficult to be perfect about ergonomics,” Weiner said. “I see it from the perspective of setting your workspace up to fit you as a unique person and then creating that baseline position that you’re more likely to go back to during the day.”