Back to the office

Jun 09, 2024


The benefits of getting everyone together in the office each week are simply too great to ignore.

I haven’t worked in an office since 2018. But I have to say that sometimes I miss it. And I think companies in our business are missing out by not requiring their people to spend a certain amount of time there every week.

People need actual contact and face-to-face interaction with other humans. When they don’t get it, they get weird, depressed, and in some cases, less productive. I could say as a business owner and manager I don’t care about the first two and only care about productivity, but that isn’t the case. “Weird and depressed” aren’t good for the business, either.

Sure – office space is expensive. And every poll taken of professional workers shows that a vast preponderance of people would prefer working from home some or all of the time – but what is best for the business? I think the benefits of getting everyone together are simply too great to ignore.

There is something to be said for getting up early, taking a shower, putting on some decent clothing, and heading to the office. Then when you get there you can see your work friends and have a nice, clean place to work. Lunch out with co-workers is a time to talk. And the banter and short conversations you have throughout the day keep you informed on how things are going for the people in the company. Relationships formed and sustained through constant contact are healthier and make it easier to work together. All good stuff.

And while we talk about how great it is to work from home because there are fewer distractions – now that we have all experienced it during COVID – do you really think that is the case? Kids who want things from you, barking dogs who want to get let in and out, Amazon deliveries, a yard that needs to be cut, dishes in the sink that need tending to, a teenager who needs to be picked up and taken for an orthodontist appointment – do you really believe that there are no distractions working from home? Of course there are! They are just different ones than those you would encounter at the office.

I think most of us who own and manage AEC firms today would agree that it would be best if we could get our people back to the office. But the question is how? The cat has been let out of the bag. It’s going to be hard to get it back in. People have been able to work from home for so long their lives have been organized around that. And many don’t want to go back.

Some firms have simply mandated that their people work in the office either full-time or so many days a week. Rumor has it here in Northwest Arkansas that Walmart – which is building a new corporate headquarters here that will rival Apple’s – is telling all of its remote workers they will have to come back. Those who don’t want to do it are supposedly going to be looking for new work.

Maybe that’s too draconian for our industry with the labor shortage we are facing. I don’t know what the alternative is. I guess we can ask. We can also sell the benefits. And we can make our offices as nice and as fun to be in as possible. Because the truth is, those who are there and seen, and have relationships with you and the other principals of your firm will be more likely to get ahead.

Let me know if you have any creative ideas to get people back to your office. But one way or another, it’s time to get back to the office! 

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.