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From Long Hours in Traffic to Work-Life Balance: Employees Choose Remote Work

Aug 07, 2023 10:00AM ● By Gift Joe

Photo by Arina Krasnikova

Employees want to work from the comfort of their homes. Bosses want them back in the office.

Remote work was popularized and normalized when the coronavirus outbreak forced countries across the world to shut down activities. We learned during the pandemic that employees could perform their duties from home, as companies adapted and found new ways to keep the work flowing.

Three years after the lockdown that accelerated the remote work trend, companies are starting to call workers back to the office. Workers, on the other hand, have become accustomed to the flexibility that remote work offers and are resisting the idea of returning to the office. The question on their lips is - why is it necessary to return to the office?

Employers vs employees: Who will win the battle?

To strike a balance, most companies have embraced the hybrid approach. Employees can come to the office two or three days a week. 

Google has a policy that mandates staff to come into the office at least three days per week. Amazon has also asked employees to be in the office at least three days a week.

Though staff may not like it, employers have their reasons for wanting people back in the office. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy believes that working from home is not the best approach if one wants to achieve the best results. According to him, invention happens when employees work in person.

Employees also have reasons for wanting to continue to work from home. Some have moved to new cities after the pandemic. Others love the flexible schedule and are happy to spend more time with their families as they do not have to deal with long hours in traffic.

With bosses trying to toss out the practice of working from home, some employees are fighting back. Some offices have given employees the option to work from the office or their homes, and many are choosing remote work even if their offices are open.

Lagos traffic. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Who wants to work from home and who doesn’t?

Some employees shared their preferences and gave reasons.

Samuel, who works with a Nigerian bank, goes to the office every day. According to him, some jobs cannot be done from the comfort of one’s bedroom.

Cynthia works with a tech company and does not see the need to drive to work daily. Commuting to and from the office can take her more than four hours.

“Commuting from Lagos mainland to the Island daily is not funny. I have to be out of the house before 5 am to beat traffic. I face the same ordeal after work, spending over two hours from the office to the house.”

She says her job can be done just as well from home.

Amaka, a former BBC Igbo staff, believes the company is likely to get the best out of her when she works from home.

“Working from home means working in an environment you are probably very comfortable in, and comfortable means a high probability of willingness to produce a higher quality of work.

“Avoiding the early morning rush and traffic as those cut into productive time (if you don’t get to work late, you will still need some time to decompress before starting work properly).”

Yusuf works with a media company and they have been working from home since the pandemic, though the office has been opened afterward.

“Work from home enhances productivity as I don’t have to go through the hectic traffic. It also ensures I don’t spend half of my salary on the expensive transport fare.”

Jude, an accountant at an oil servicing firm in Lagos, has a different opinion. He would rather work from the office because he does more there than at home where there are too many distractions. Also, working from home in Nigeria, one has to deal with several challenges such as internet and power issues.

Glory, human resource personnel, says she is not a fan of remote work. She prefers hybrid. She gave reasons why going to the office every day is not such a good idea.

  • High cost of transportation
  • Stress of commuting to work every day with the level of traffic
  • Does not allow work-life balance which affects employee wellbeing

Returning to the office has its benefits and downsides, and so does remote work. This is why a compromise between employees and employers is necessary.

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