At what cost? The abrupt return to office in the digital nomads' era

Jessica Leon
March 16, 2023
minute read
A team member working at the office on the computer and wearing a mask

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It's been only a couple of years since some skeptical companies across the world realized that many jobs could be done remotely without losing productivity or profits. Nonetheless, in 2022, some of these companies decided that employees must return to the office, just like before, disregarding that remote or hybrid work changed the rules for everyone. Then, last month, Elon Musk, the new CEO and owner of Twitter, shook things up again when he abolished remote work abruptly, with 40 hours a week of in-person activity demand. So after almost three years of remote work frameworks and improvements, what are they actually losing? 

There is "no way to sugarcoat the message" was the opening sentence of the Tesla and SpaceX CEO when he demanded Twitter workers that "starting tomorrow (Thursday), everyone is required to be in the office for a minimum of 40 hours per week". The reason? For them, the economic downturn makes necessary arduous and intense work to achieve success, which is only achievable with in-person activity, but is it really? 

As a fully remote company, we have firsthand experience with the countless benefits of building a world-class team without the constraints of synchronous communication. With this innovative approach to work, we have found new ways to optimize time and unlock the full potential of our team, which are our greatest assets in building a successful company and navigating any crisis.  

Yes, when we talk about work conditions, people are divided. There are many ways to approach projects. For some, remote work has become non-negotiable. In contrast, others are glad about a hybrid work culture. Finally, some are tired of working at home and must return to the office as soon as possible.

But without question, the benefits that remote work reveals can't be erased with the stroke of a pen. So here is a list of things some will lose in the short term.

Saving money on transportation, parking, clothes for work, etc.

Going to work can be expensive! Gas, car maintenance, transportation, parking fees, lunch, coffee and snacks, clothes for work, and we can keep going. But, even if your electrical consumption takes off at home, people who work from home half-time can save around $2,500 and $4,000 a year, and even more if they are able to move to a less expensive area and work remotely full-time. And that looks like an instant raise. 

Endless commuting 

Wasting time commuting is the second -and for some people the first- downside of traveling to and from the office. Spending 30 or even 90 minutes trapped in traffic every day can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, which eventually brings out other health issues like:

  • Higher cholesterol
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Increased risk of depression

By simply removing commuting time from their daily routine, people experience physical and mental health by allowing them to focus on other priorities, like getting extra sleep in the morning, reading a good book, spending more time with family, etc. And for us and many others, 

"time is worth more than money"  

So this remarkable time-saving aspect of remote work is the perfect introduction to its most valuable benefit 👇🏼

Extra hours to spend time with family, friends, and/or pets 

Working at home for long hours is not healthy either. You can stop for a moment and use your extra hours to spend more time with your friends, family, and pets. Remote work has proven that many tasks don't need to rely on synchronicity for their development. Suppose your team has experience in planning, good communication skills, and clear roles and stages of a project. In that case, there is plenty of room for flexibility. If we do the maths, all those hours saved from commuting are instantly gained for well-spent time with our loved ones. That is priceless.  

Time for activities that help your physical and mental being

Remote work can also help you care for your physical and mental health. With some spare time and resources, remote work gives you the opportunity to discover the best way to take care of yourself. The options are limitless: you can start a new diet or plant yourself to eat healthier, and you can also give it a try to mindfulness. Or you could take a formative course on a subject you're interested in. In addition, if you look after your mental health, you will be more productive and motivated, which leads to better quality work. 

Exposure to different cultures

Remote work has removed barriers for small companies to build teams with skilled professionals from across the globe. Thanks to their diverse backgrounds and unforgettable experiences independent of the company's location, people with unique perspectives and expertise in their fields can now contribute to the team. In addition, technology has enabled the creation of more diverse and inclusive teams, fostering a rich environment for fresh ideas and innovative solutions.

After reviewing some of the top benefits that remote work has brought, it's clear that we are experiencing an important change of paradigm about work and life dynamics. Of course, some changes take a while - there is still much to do for improving communications, detecting problems at a distance, or enhancing onboarding processes - but plenty of incredible projects are innovating in this field: tools, software frameworks, you name it. The growth opportunities are limitless.

Every time humankind wins a new right or benefit, the veil falls, and everything takes a new perspective. It's challenging to go back to how things used to be. Some bold opinions indicate that companies that don't understand this shift to remote work will die in 10 years. 

Elon Musk's recent Twitter poll, in which 57.5% of respondents voted for him to step down as head of the platform, raises questions about the appeal of a hardcore work culture, even with a competitive salary. Such a culture can create a false sense of productivity, which can have a negative impact on employee morale and motivation. After all, a room full of people sitting at their desks isn't necessarily a guarantee for a highly motivated and productive team. 

Final thoughts:

We believe that alternative work policies prioritizing employee well-being and morale, rather than just focusing on productivity at all costs, create a more positive and supportive work environment. Under this premise, companies can foster greater employee motivation and engagement.

Our team at Moonshot Partners is an eclectic group of over 70 individuals hailing from 18 different countries. At our core, we believe in the simple yet powerful mantra of "Happy team, Happy client!" We strive to create an environment that fosters creativity, collaboration, and mutual respect, which enables us to deliver exceptional results for our clients. Our diverse and dynamic team brings a wealth of experience and expertise to every project, ensuring that we are always pushing the boundaries of what's possible.

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