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These types of people may benefit the most from returning to the office

For certain workers, returning to in-person work allows for maximum productivity and work-life balance.

These types of people may benefit the most from returning to the office
[Photo: AndreyPopov/iStock]

The return to the office has begun. Some workers are anxious about it, and others can’t wait to return. Some were able to thrive over the course of the last year and a half, perfecting their home office setup. But for others, going back to the office may mean a boost of motivation.

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Early-career professionals in particular may be better suited to this return. Dustin Grosse, a chief marketing and strategy officer at Nintex, told Fast Company early this year that although younger generations are portrayed as digitally native, many have been struggling without in-person interactions to enhance their career trajectory.

He notes that there are many benefits to in-office work for those who are still early in their career. They get the chance to not only connect with colleagues, managers, and teammates but also potentially to find a mentor.

But younger professionals are just one type of worker who might enjoy (and benefit from) working in an office. Here are a few other examples:

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1. Working parents

In a year when work, school, and personal time moved online, working parents shouldered an overwhelming load of responsibilities. A shift back to the office serves as an opportunity for some parents to take back their schedules and delineate better boundaries.

In an article for Fast Company this year, writer Erin Schulte spoke with parents who expressed how much they struggled to get their work done alongside handling family obligations. One mom of a 13-year-old and a 2-year-old shared how she felt there was never time to focus on one task: “I found myself working all hours of the day, crazy hours. . . . Being at home with kids and trying to single-task is absolutely impossible.”

2. People who like collaboration

People who work best around other people are also excited about returning to an office. These members of the workplace may not necessarily be extroverts but can be individuals who find themselves not getting as much done while at home. They might just enjoy working among others in a non-solitary environment, since for some workers, being around another person they’re familiar with can boost motivation.

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“People often say they value the rhythm of the workday [and] a return to the office often offers a more consistent schedule,” says Tracy Brower, a sociologist, regular Fast Company contributor, and author of The Secrets to Happiness at Work. “Returning to a common space has the benefit of helping people feel a greater sense of belonging, connection, and camaraderie. And it can contribute to mental health by reducing social isolation.”

Individuals who enjoy working in a collaboration-heavy environment may also enjoy helping others, which has been shown to boost motivation and productivity. The act of giving back can trigger a boost of confidence and a decrease in negative emotions. “People are less stressed if they feel they are enriching the lives of others,” says Robert Brooks, a psychologist specializing in children’s mental health.

3. People who have trouble staying motivated or need external stimuli

People who are more organized and conscientious, according to the Big Five personality test, likely prefer to work from home. But other personalities who feel energized from buzzing, people-friendly environments may get more done in the office.

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Brower says that the constantly connected atmosphere of remote work can sap employees’ motivation and creative impulses. “The office offers well-being opportunities by [establishing] boundaries and spaces to be inspired and stimulated,” she says. “It also offers greater variety than an ‘always home’ routine.”

But employees eager to be social should also think about what environment is best suited for their type of work. Says Brower, “The nature of the work matters. For instance, people who work on more rote or routine work are well suited to work from home.”

4. People in crowded homes

Of course, not all employees have a quiet place to get work done remotely. For workers living in small apartments, or boomerang young workers who have moved back into their family’s home, working remotely can insert more distractions and stir up tensions. Many are looking forward to transitioning back to a place where their attention isn’t so frayed.

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“Humans tend to shy away from ambiguity or uncertainty,” Brower says. “A return to the office often offers a more predictable, consistent routine, which some people really missed.”

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About the author

Diana is an assistant editor for Fast Company's Work Life section. Previously, she was an editor at Vice and an editorial assistant at Entrepreneur

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