While I certainly understand why any organization or business wants its employees to do their work in the office, we continue to miss the lesson COVID-19 taught us. That lesson is that NOT driving to work, occupying office buildings, saves so much energy, time, and money (see more graphs below).

With the push to bring everyone back into the office, that means that businesses make MORE money from people when they drive into work, polluting the environment, and spend time in their buildings rather than their homes.

What’s my take? Businesses, schools, universities, organizations ALWAYS do what is in THEIR best interest. That “best interest” is usually decided by someone in charge who gets a kick out of having everyone in one place. Centralized control. We now know that remote work has its own benefits, and continuing to rely on past ways of gathering people is nothing more than control via paycheck.

It’s always been that, but now, the facade has been stripped away.


  • Jobs: 40
  • Leisure: 34
  • Caregiving: 11
  • Other: 15

Return to On-Site Work

Consider the announcement from The University of Texas at Austin president:

Beginning this fall semester, the University will require almost all staff members to work on site full time. . .Staff members can most effectively serve our students, faculty, fellow staff members, and other stakeholders when working together in an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, availability, and reliability. (source)

While those kinds of assertions may have held up in the past due to the employer’s authority, today, we have access to AI. Let’s see what Perplexity AI says.

AI on Remote Work

The scientific consensus on remote work is nuanced and reflects a range of findings that highlight both benefits and challenges. Assertions like “Staff members can most effectively serve our students, faculty, fellow staff members, and other stakeholders when working together in an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, availability, and reliability” are partially supported by the evidence but also overlook some of the advantages of remote work.

Benefits of Remote Work

  1. Increased Productivity: Several studies have shown that remote workers can be more productive than their in-office counterparts. This is often attributed to fewer distractions, the ability to work during peak productivity hours, and the elimination of commute time[2][3][10].

  2. Improved Work-Life Balance: Remote work offers greater flexibility, which can lead to better work-life balance, increased job satisfaction, and improved mental health[1][2][3].

  3. Cost Savings: Both employees and employers can save money. Employees save on commuting and work attire, while employers save on office space and related expenses[2][10].

  4. Access to a Broader Talent Pool: Remote work allows organizations to hire talent from a wider geographic area, which can lead to a more diverse and skilled workforce[4][11].

Challenges of Remote Work

  1. Collaboration and Innovation: In-person collaboration is often cited as more effective for fostering innovation and creativity. Studies have shown that face-to-face interactions can lead to more spontaneous idea exchanges and stronger team bonds[6][16]. The “water cooler” moments and unplanned interactions that occur in an office setting are difficult to replicate virtually[6][16].

  2. Communication Barriers: Remote work can lead to communication challenges, especially in terms of synchronous communication. This can result in more siloed work and less effective collaboration[8][14].

  3. Professional Development and Mentorship: Remote work can hinder professional development opportunities and mentorship, particularly for younger or less experienced employees who benefit from direct feedback and guidance[5][8].

  4. Work-Life Boundaries: While remote work can improve work-life balance, it can also blur the boundaries between work and personal life, leading to longer working hours and potential burnout[1][10].

Hybrid Work as a Middle Ground

Many organizations are adopting hybrid work models to balance the benefits of remote work with the advantages of in-person collaboration. Hybrid work combines remote flexibility with the opportunity for face-to-face interactions, which can enhance productivity, job satisfaction, and innovation[5][11].


The assertion that staff members can most effectively serve stakeholders in an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, availability, and reliability is partially true. In-person work environments do offer unique benefits for collaboration and innovation. However, remote work also provides significant advantages in terms of productivity, work-life balance, and cost savings. The optimal work arrangement often depends on the specific needs and goals of the organization, as well as the nature of the work being performed. A hybrid model may offer the best of both worlds, combining the strengths of remote and in-person work[5][11].

Citations removed.