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Why employers should reconsider back-to-office mandates

By Jack Campbell | |7 minute read

As the pandemic subsides, employers are taking the opportunity to push workers to come back into the office. While some may argue it increases productivity and morale, there are those who disagree.

Social media specialist and digital nomad Carly Koemptgen said employers should see the benefits that hybrid and remote working can bring.

“Talent is everywhere, but you don’t necessarily always have access to it. And so being able to work remotely, you can still attract that top talent and those people that are really motivated and want to do the work that you’re doing. People that are aligned with your values and your mission,” said Ms Koemptgen.


“So, I definitely think being open to flexible work is beneficial to the employer. And I just think it’s something that everyone should consider.”

Being aware of the opportunities and benefits that flexibility can bring to an employee’s life is an important consideration to make. Offering flexible working arrangements can make a world of difference to someone who needs it.

“I have found that if you have an open mind and an open heart about everything, not just who you’re hiring, how you’re running your business, you learn things from others and you learn how you want to interact with the world, how you want to be a manager, how you want to be a leader.

“Having an open heart and an open mind about other people’s experiences is only going to make your business stronger and make you a better leader,” Ms Koemptgen explained.

“Consider the benefits that flexible work provides for your business … Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. So, if you decide to hire remotely, you get access to a greater pool of talent, really motivated workers and some of the best people in your industry, which is super cool and not an opportunity that we’ve ever really had before.”

Providing an environment where employees have the time and capacity to do what they want to do can improve morale and encourage them to work better. It’s a win for wellbeing.

Ms Koemptgen commented: “When your employees feel more fulfilled, feel like they are living the lives that they want to live, they’re not living to work, but they’re actually coming to work because they want to. I think that completely changes the entire vibe, for lack of better words, of your team.”

“If you have people who feel really fulfilled, people who are super excited to be there, people who are aligned with your values and your mission, that’s just going to give you a better team overall.”

Younger generations, especially those who have entered the workforce in the midst of the pandemic, see the benefits of working remotely. In fact, studies show 40 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 say they work more effectively remotely, compared to just 25 per cent of 25- to 49-year-olds and 13 per cent of those aged over 50.

“I can really only speak to my generation because we were the ones that grew up with the internet and we are digital natives. [We’re] people that are used to adapting to new technology, learning new tools. So, it is quite a bit easier for us to adapt to changes like that,” said Ms Koemptgen.

Enforcing back-to-office mandates can drive this young talent away, which is especially damaging during the current issues with the talent market.

“When I was at my very first agency, they did a back-to-work policy where they insisted that we all come into the office five days a week. And they didn’t really ask anyone how they felt about it. It was still when COVID-19 was going on too.

“So, some people were a little worried about health and the people that they lived with and vulnerable people around them. And I saw so many of my younger colleagues and so many of my extremely talented co-workers leave for different companies,” Ms Koemptgen outlined.

“For example, I had one friend who lived with a family member who was a little bit more immunocompromised. And they were like, ‘I physically cannot go into an office five days a week because I don’t want to put that family member at risk.’”

She concluded: “Now that COVID-19 is where we’re rolling out of that and moving into the future, I still think there are a lot of people that leave companies just because that policy just does not work for them, whether it’s their living environment, what they’re doing, their lifestyle, that sort of thing. And I think they know that there are companies that will hire them fully remotely. Why not?”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Carly Koemptgen, click below:


Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.

Remote working

Professionals can use remote work as a working method to do business away from a regular office setting. It is predicated on the idea that work need not be carried out in a certain location to be successful.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.