An Aberration.

Goldman Sachs is focused on welcoming a new class of graduates and interns into its offices this summer. Recently, CEO David Solomon declared that working from home would be short-lived at his company: “This is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal, it’s an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible.”

Aberration (noun): a departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.

(Hence, the need for correction).

They say that first impressions matter. Interns enjoy an entire summer of first impressions when they set foot in their first corporate job. They are (often) young, eager to learn, and curious as to what their chosen host family is all about. Will they stick it out for one summer, never to return, or will they build a life around a career at this very place? Will they be a long-term asset to the company, or a quick entry on their alumni list?

You might say that it is impossible to know. If the past year has taught us anything, it is that life throws curve balls. No amount of personality assessments, trainings, and perks can compete against a cross-country move for a spouse’s job, a health crisis, or a tragedy. Yet, some things are predictable.

People who do not feel seen leave companies.
People who do not feel heard leave companies.
People who do not feel respected leave companies.

Also, turnover is expensive.

Long before COVID-19, there were workers who desired more flexibility at work. Many, in fact, needed it. It is women’s history month, so let’s talk history. Many women have not even applied to certain jobs because the requirement of in-office time (the original FaceTime) eliminated the ability to both fulfill their duties and arrive at daycare by closing. For many of these working moms, the experience of the past year has opened up the possibility that they may be able to, even for one day a week, work from home. This provides a more inclusive atmosphere – and not just for women. Valued, talented employees who commute an hour each way for work may feel like this nightmare has been some version of a dream (and not just because of the extra hour of sleep). People who hate traffic (read: everyone) may feel less stress in their mind and their back.

We all crave some parts of our 2019 lives, and we will return to the office. Our culture depends on people interacting, and there is no substitute for in-person training, mentoring and collaboration. Yet, it would be a shame if we returned without thinking about what we have learned while we were away. Remote work is not all bad, and it comes in many forms. Though some may wish it away, this is a new normal for many.