The Spectrum


As Offices Re-open, Workers Ponder the Pros and Cons

By Katie Chang

As much as she loves the convenience of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate accountant Kamila Gosiewski said some of what happens while handling clients remotely can be annoying. 

“Not all of our clients want to show their faces on camera,” said Gosiewski, audit and tax manager at Anchin, Block & Anchin in Manhattan. “I don’t know why, because, in person, we do see them. It may be the set up they don’t have or they don’t know how to. If I’m with you now talking, it’s kind of weird because it’s like talking to a blank wall.” 

As more companies reopen their in-person doors, many workers are considering the pros and cons of going back to the office; and many employers are planning to offer a hybrid of at-home and in-the-office schedules. 

Gosiewski said she hopes employees will be allowed to determine which days they need to be in the office. 

“Maybe during busy seasons when we have to go to clients, that’s when it should be communicated that we are expected to show up. If we aren’t going anywhere outside of the office, I don’t think it should be mandatory,” she said. “We know when we have to go in that we shouldn’t be told we have to go in on specific days.”

Communicating how things will work is key, regardless of being in person or not. It is what keeps everyone on both ends in check and on the same page, she added. 

For Annie Zhao, an accountant at the same firm, working remotely has been spectacular, too.

“Right now, it’s the best schedule,” Zhao said, then starts joking. “It took me like five months to get used to what we are doing now, so it will take me five years to go back to the normal Monday to Friday.”

 In the beginning, because so many returns had to be mailed to clients, instead in person, there were delays.

Both Zhao and Gosiewski find they are more productive working remotely. 

But human resources manager Christine Heckman said otherwise. “For a lot of the staff, especially for the lower level of staff senior and below, productivity has declined because they haven’t been able to focus as much as they can when they’re in the office,” Heckman said. “The immediacy of getting the answer to a question seems to lag now that we’re home. Some of the higher level of staff think that people automatically have availability to do other work than they’ve been assigned. So, a lot of the staff are becoming overwhelmed because they’re getting hit from all different sides in trying to get work done.” 

A June 2021 survey by the Partnership for New York City found that 12% of Manhattan office employees had returned to the workplace by late May. By early March, 10% had returned. Of the surveyed employers, 71% said they plan to adopt a rotating or hybrid office schedule. Of those employers, 63% said they will require employees to be in the office three days per week.” -office/