Is the future of work back in the office in 2023?

STORY: Is the future of work back in the office?

Before the pandemic, "going to the office" was synonymous with "working".

But COVID-19 caused a split in the two - at a high cost for many corporations and bosses.

So - as the world increasingly learns to live with the virus - there's a new rift:

Employers demanding workers return - while workers ask for flexibility.

Why it matters.

Much is at stake with how the workplace evolves.

It could determine whether people who left the workforce during the pandemic can return:

like women who served as primary unpaid caregivers, older workers, and those who suffered from long COVID.

That, in turn, could impact labor shortages that have been hitting economies and different sectors.

Employers might look to boost their appeal to younger workers with a hybrid model.

It would help them save on real estate - but could come at other costs:

There are concerns about lost productivity - and in regulated sectors like finance, remote work could be detrimental to compliance.

The nature of the workplace could add to inequalities that the pandemic was able to highlight:

racial and ethnic minorities over-represented in frontline tasks... where remote working isn't an option.

Not much has changed for them.

What does it mean for 2023?

In a Microsoft report in September,

85% of leaders surveyed said they didn't feel employees were being productive in a hybrid workspace.

That's despite the same survey showing that the number of meetings per week had increased 153% globally for the average Teams user since the start of the pandemic...

and 42% of workers multi-tasked during those meetings.

2023 could determine who ends up having the upper hand in what the future of work looks like.

A booming economy and labor shortages have given workers more say...

A recession might have taken some of that away.