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The WFH Vs. Return-To-Office Debate: What Employees, Bosses Should Consider


The WFH Vs. Return-To-Office Debate: What Employees, Bosses Should Consider

Many Americans have been working from home full-time for a year now since COVID-19 hit the U.S. And many prefer that arrangement to a traditional office. In a survey, 65% said they want to work remotely full-time after the pandemic.

That could pose a problem for them and their employers.

Given the availability of vaccines, many companies are planning to ask their employees to return to the office. But a sizable number of workers might balk – or even walk. In a survey by LiveCareer, 29% of working professionals said they would quit if they couldn’t continue working remotely.

“The reality is that some jobs just don’t work remotely and some people don’t work well remotely,” says Cynthia Spraggs (, a veteran of working remotely, author of How To Work From Home And Actually Get SH*T Done, and CEO of Virtira, a completely virtual company that helps other businesses work virtually. “Companies have time to plan for both – and so do employees.

“Many employees now expect to be able to work flexibly. Some companies will use a hybrid approach, and others will go back to full-time in the office. But if employees are not given the choice to work from home, some will look for other employers that do offer that. Companies need to assess which jobs are best done remotely and assess their employees to understand which ones benefit the company most by either working from home or returning to the office.”

Spraggs offers these thoughts for workers, business owners, and managers to consider in the WFH vs. return-to-office debate:

The WFH type. “At this point, it should be relatively easy to assess who is thriving and who is miserable in a WFH setting,” Spraggs says. “What we’ve found is, regardless if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, the perfect WFH employee is someone who embraces life and who has passions and interests outside of work. They work efficiently and are strong performers because they see work as a means to fund their life.”

The traditional office type. Spraggs draws a stark contrast between people who thrive working from home and those who are much happier commuting to a traditional brick-and-mortar office environment. “These individuals have strong social relationships through work and require the camaraderie that an in-office environment provides,” she says. “For many, especially those focused on the corner office, work is their life. These are the ones who pull down 80-hour weeks to move up the ladder. They stay glued to their boss, and likely are the ones who just won’t function well at home. Sadly, they are also likely your VP.”

Weigh how your company thinks of you. “Although we all like to think that companies care about employees,” Spraggs says, “the harsh reality is that employees are a unit of production and companies will migrate to the setup that senior executives mandate. Do you really want to work for a company that isn’t prepared to accommodate what makes you most productive and happy? Better sharpen that CV and get ready. Plan now and work your networks.”

Management realities. For many companies, even with the environmental, health, and productivity advantages that remote work brings, Spraggs thinks some simply aren’t going to embrace WFH as an opportunity to streamline operations. “They are going to want to return to the ‘old normal,’” she says. “A good number of senior management people didn’t do well with the WFH environment because they view WFH through a lens of slacking-off employees, lower productivity, and lower ROI. So it’s likely these companies are not going to make the investments in training, home-based bandwidth, VPNs, and tools to make it work.”

“There’s coming tension in many companies between what will work best for management and what will work best for the employees,” Spraggs says. “We may see a big migration in workers going to fully virtual companies.”


Cynthia Spraggs ( is the author of How To Work From Home And Actually Get SH*T Done: 50 Tips for Leaders and Professionals to Work Remotely and Outperform the Office. She is CEO of Virtira, a completely virtual company that focuses on remote team performance. Before taking leadership of the company in 2011, Spraggs worked with large consulting and tech companies while completing her MBA and research into telecommuting.

air quality

A Healthier Warehouse Starts with Better Indoor Air Quality

While the “new normal” is still evolving, one thing is certain: We need to continue to focus on how we design and maintain indoor environments. Businesses need to keep occupant well-being and productivity top of mind while minimizing potential risks.

Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) has always been a priority for building operators but until recently many occupants were unaware or less concerned about how IAQ impacted their experience. The World Green Building Council notes IAQ is just one of “a range of tools and strategies” that should be employed to make buildings safer, but adds, “It is clear that an effective approach should…encompass an increased focus on the monitoring and management of air quality.” To this end, warehouses and distribution centers across the globe have taken steps to review current systems and implement new in-building technologies that improve ventilation, air quality, humidity, pressure, and safety.

While every building has some level of these functions, they may not be optimized for occupant comfort and wellbeing. With the holiday season, many warehouses and distribution centers schedule a higher-than-normal volume of employees to stay on track during the busiest time of the year. Air quality is essential to a healthy building, and it is especially important when there is an increase in the number of building occupants. IAQ can impact occupant wellbeing and productivity, energy efficiency, and potentially even real estate value.

As building owners and operators look to provide safer and healthier work environments for their employees, a good place to start is with a building audit. An audit will reveal whether installed systems are operating properly and confirm the facility is meeting ASHRAE standards for a healthier environment based on the type of building and its existing systems.

Aligning with ASHRAE Building Readiness recommendations, building operators should consider the following tips to improve IAQ:

-Increase outdoor air ventilation (use caution in highly polluted areas)

-Disable demand-controlled ventilation (DCV)

-Open minimum outdoor air dampers — as much as 100% — to eliminate recirculation

-Consider portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters

-Consider UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) to protect occupants from radiation, particularly in high-risk spaces (e.g., break rooms or locker rooms)

-Consider altering equipment operating schedules to flush buildings with fresh air for two hours before and after occupancy

Following the audit, building operators should assess areas throughout the building to implement improvements or adjustments. Some improvement options include:

Electronic air cleaners (EACs): An electronic air cleaner is a device that uses an electric charge to remove impurities — either solid particles or liquid droplets — from the air. The EAC functions by applying energy only to the particulate matter to be collected, without significantly impeding the flow of air. They are installed at the point of air intake in an HVAC system, and maintenance of commercial EACs is often tool-free and relatively simple, due to components like removable grills for prefilter and electronic cell cleaning and replacement.

Ventilation controls: Proper air exchange can help dispel odors, chemicals, and carbon dioxide while balancing energy use and reducing disease transmission Building control products like actuators and economizers can bring in the right amount of fresh air based on environmental conditions, as well as meet building regulations. Newer economizers offer onboard fault detection and diagnostics to reduce service and commissioning time for maintenance professionals.

Humidity sensors: Humidity sensors can help gain real-time measurements and keep humidity at optimized levels. Humidity control is not just about occupant comfort. High humidity can promote bacteria and mold growth as well as conditions for dust mites, while low humidity can cause dry, itchy skin and upper respiratory irritations. ASHRAE research found that keeping relative humidity in the 40% to 60% range is optimal to decreasing occupant exposure to infectious particles and reducing virus transmission.

Pressurization controls: Maintaining proper pressurization in critical spaces, including restrooms, can help reduce pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can be present in indoor air. Pressurization can also be used to contain air in a quarantined space or isolate and protect clean spaces. Pressure sensors provide low-maintenance measurement and control.

UV systems: UV systems use ultraviolet light to damage the DNA structure of microorganisms at the cellular level and has been shown in laboratory tests to inactivate certain viral, bacterial and fungal organisms, making them less likely to replicate and potentially cause disease. UV systems can be installed at HVAC coils or with an EAC to deactivate biological contaminants growing on cooling coils, preventing pathogens from spreading to building occupants.

According to the World Green Building Council, while buildings themselves cannot solve all of our current challenges, they play a crucial role in employee wellbeing. Warehouse and distribution center owners and operators must make IAQ a priority — now and in the future — to ensure healthier indoor environments for employees and keep business moving.