Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Back to the Future...er, to the Office.

    Posted 08-08-2021 06:45 PM
    By now, it sounds like a lot of people I know have some sort of plan for a "return to the office". Other companies have seemed to commit to exactly the opposite idea.

    My situation is somewhat in the middle.  I used to work out of a client office. This client is a government agency that did not previously allow remote work. They are planning a return to work that still allows for 1-2 days a week of remote work.  However, due to social distancing rules, they have had to reduce the number of desks that they can fit in their office.

    The result is that the consultant staff supporting this client (including myself) will not be going back to the client office with them. While we do not have a final plan yet ourselves, it is likely that we will continue working remotely, and occasionally be able to drop in to the client office by means of a few "visitor desks" that will be set up for just such a purpose.

    I have mixed feelings about this. I expect that our virtual communication will need to remain just as strong as when everyone was fully remote. I don't expect any changes on that front from what has been done during the past year. Meetings will still be mostly virtual. I will continue to enjoy not commuting, but will feel slightly left out of seeing many of my coworkers face to face.

    What about the rest of you? Did you work remotely before? And are you planning to return to the office now? How do you feel about it?

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    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
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  • 2.  RE: Back to the Future...er, to the Office.

    Posted 08-09-2021 09:19 AM
    In the government agency where I work, there's talk of bringing people back at full capacity, but no concrete plans yet. No outside visitors, virtual meetings only to avoid physically present personnel, in the office one week out of every four for the staff and two days a week for managers. Some managers have been taking days off when they are supposed to be present, to avoid the virus.

    In a college that I attended, they've abandoned deep cleaning, are focusing less on social distancing, and have instituted a vaccine mandate and universal masking. I feel like they have a really good handle on the science so far, though their hands are tied because they have to answer to a higher authority.

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    Tsee Lee S.M.ASCE
    New York NY
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  • 3.  RE: Back to the Future...er, to the Office.

    Posted 08-11-2021 12:02 PM
    Thanks for sharing! I am a little surprised to see that the rules are going to be different between staff and managers. Seems like a recipe for discontent.

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    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
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  • 4.  RE: Back to the Future...er, to the Office.

    Posted 08-11-2021 01:51 PM
    Ok, so I'm finally doing the math. 5 days every four weeks for the staff vs. 2days/wk for four weeks...The staff is expected less in the office than the managers--well, the staff is represented by labor unions. They also has the option of taking vacation days instead of going in the office, although it's unsustainable for anyone in the long run. There are starting to be quits and retirements for those unwilling to comply with the various mandates and full return to office.

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    Tsee Lee S.M.ASCE
    New York NY
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  • 5.  RE: Back to the Future...er, to the Office.

    Posted 08-11-2021 03:13 PM
    Hi Chris,

    I work in a state agency and when I first started working earlier this year, my supervisor gave me the freedom to choose how frequent I would come in to office to work. Most of my colleagues opted coming into the office once a week and worked remotely the rest of the week. I chose a combination of 3 days work in office, and 2 days work remotely. Now entering the last quarter of the year, our agency is transitioning into having employees come in to the office full time. If the employee wishes to work remotely, they'd have to submit an application and get approval from their supervisor. I'm planning to submit an application and maintain my 3 days work in office and 2 days work remotely. A lot of the work that we do in our division can be done remotely and so working in the office is usually preference. My supervisors and coworkers also have mixed feelings about this as there are pros and cons.

    I personally enjoy working in the office as I save electricity from air conditioning, have better internet connection, and have coworkers to talk to when they're present. It's easier to ask questions and discuss things in person than virtually. I also walk to work so I don't really have expenses regarding transportation.

    But I also like working remotely because I can be a potato while getting stuff done.

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    Elijohn Siggaoat A.M.ASCE
    Brooklyn NY
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  • 6.  RE: Back to the Future...er, to the Office.

    Posted 08-16-2021 09:25 AM
    I used to WFH one day a week pre-pandemic and have been WFH full time for the past 18 months. Now that our office has opened with limited capacity, I will probably be in the office only once a week to meet my team. Other than that, I am happy with WFH because my productivity is much much higher comparing to pre-pandemic time. In addition, not having to commute 1.5-2 hrs a day to the office is another big plus for us and the environment. Luckily, my employer let every employee choose what works best for them so everyone is quite happy. I think it's the right thing to do as companies would lose talent people if they force them to go back to the office full time

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    Tung Nguyen, PhD
    Water Resources Engineer
    Sacramento, CA
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  • 7.  RE: Back to the Future...er, to the Office.

    Posted 08-17-2021 09:45 AM
    I have a similar situation to Tung. I work for a private company and had been doing one day a week remote pre-pandemic for almost a year and now have been full remote for 18 months with a couple days as the exception. Our firm, like many others, will be moving into a hybrid work model allowing up to three days remote but you have to apply and get approval from your supervisor to discuss if your role is feasible remote.

    I have a little over an hour commute each way so I don't miss the cost or the time loss in my day for commuting but I am excited to have some regularity of going to the office again starting likely in October. Beyond just the faster internet and network, it is easier and more fulfilling in a lot of ways to just go over to someone's desk and ask your question in person. I think it's going to be interesting to navigate the mix of remote and in person communication that'll take a little while to get used to. Overall I'm happy to have more in person time with my coworkers but happy that the flexibility is also remaining.

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    Taygra Longstaff
    Arup
    Ipswich MA
    taygra.longstaff@...
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  • 8.  RE: Back to the Future...er, to the Office.

    Posted 02-12-2022 11:50 AM
    Before the pandemic hit in 2020, the plan was that I spend the summer continuing to work on campus with a database and projects, along with unpaid research into a transportation microcosm. After getting an extra week of Spring Break to get everything from my dorm room back to the house, the second part-time job was cancelled and after eventually figuring out how to get even myself onto online work (the database for the first job required going on the office's computers), I was laid off for the rest of the summer to stabilize finances.

    When I was welcomed back for both in the Fall semester, I was glad to be back inside the office for the first job, because of the limitations of doing that job remotely. The second job transitioned into remote work, which was alright, because the work itself transitioned into something I could do on my Mac laptop anytime without problems.

    When I get my next job, I think it will be alright if I am doing online work, so long as it was not necessary to do in-person in the past. Whether because of security or team work, some jobs were always more feasible to do in-person.

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    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Student
    Bexley OH
    granato.3@...
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