Each year, our Young Professional Committee conducts an interview session with our summer interns. We want to hear from them what they look for in a workplace so that we can continuously improve Flint Group. The biggest thing that stuck out to me from this year’s interview was how many of our interns said they would prefer to work remotely.
At Flint, as with many other companies over the last year and a half, we’ve adapted to a flexible workplace and work with individuals on their preference of working from home, from the office or in a hybrid system. But is working from home really the best option? And why are so many of our interns wanting to work remotely?
To answer the second question, I believe there are two reasons why our interns would prefer to work remotely:
- Most are not from Fargo or Duluth. Our two primary offices are in Fargo and Duluth, and most of our interns this year were from cities closer to Minneapolis. Many commented that they would prefer to move back closer to home. It made me wonder if they were from the area, would they feel the same?
- They spent the last year of school going to class online. The new “normal” to this group is working and living at home. For better or worse, that seems to be where they are now most comfortable. Which poses another question: What does this mean for our future?
Is working from home the best option?
These questions lead to the larger question – is working from home really the best option? As someone who worked from home for about four years and recently transitioned back to the office, I’d say no. But, if you would have asked me this question a year ago, or anytime during the last four years, I would have told you yes.
I really did like working from home. I’m a pretty routine person and when working from home I could really get into a groove and go through my routines without worrying about interruptions. I think this made me a good work-from-home candidate as I had rules for myself around “work time” versus “home time,” but it also made me a bit ornery. I stopped taking time to enjoy visiting with my co-workers because I was working and didn’t have time. Transitioning back into the office has made me value my co-workers and taking time for small talk. I still get my work done and I’m a happier employee because of the face-to-face interactions I’m having.
Flexibility seems to be the answer.
So, to work from home or to not work from home? It’s really based on the individual, their situation and where they are in their life. The pandemic has caused us all to learn to pivot and to be flexible with each individual’s situation. If companies can learn anything from the last year and a half, I hope it’s workplace flexibility.