Here’s what Bay Area residents really think about going back to the office

The sudden shift to working from home was an unexpected change for millions at the start of the pandemic. But, after years of working remotely, the pressure to get workers back to their offices has been rife with shutdowns and restarts, marked by the threat of new virus variants and employee outcry. Now, as more companies blast the proverbial back-to-office conch, many are taking a harder line on time in the office, upending the routines people have built up over the past couple of years.

Some find that everything from babysitting to dog walking needs to be overhauled when they get back to the office. Workers returned to offices and meeting rooms and found that commuting can still be as harrowing as ever. And others just don’t feel safe in the work environment and want to choose for themselves.

Still, some enjoy getting back in shape, saying the time spent helps them focus more on their family when they get home, or that they can focus better in an office with their heads clear from a train ride. the morning.

Caitlin Kamm, head of people growth at workplace software company Envoy, really enjoys being back in her SoMa office three days a week. She took the job instead of other remote options in part because of the in-person company requirement. She started in March coming twice a week and now shows up on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“I had many conversations with my husband about how I had felt about mental health throughout the pandemic,” Kamm said. A self-proclaimed introvert with a one-year-old son, she said her previous job was working remotely: “I became very isolating. It just escaped me. Being able to chat or have lunch with colleagues and share parenting tips with other mothers gave her a social outlet and daily structure that she felt working from home lacked.

That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to juggle family and a car and Caltrain commute from San Carlos. Kamm’s husband takes their son to daycare on days she is in town and she picks him up when she gets home at the end of the day. She said if she was still working from home, she would probably do both.

“The first three weeks I was doing it was an adjustment and it was exhausting,” Kamm said. She doesn’t mind now, but marvels that so many people used to take these kinds of trips five days a week, and many still do. “It seems completely exhausting.”

Caitlin Kamm, head of people growth at Envoy, works on her laptop while commuting to her CalTrain home.

Caitlin Kamm, head of people growth at Envoy, works on her laptop while commuting to her CalTrain home.

Yalonda M. James, Staff/The Chronicle

Kamm said she does her best to schedule her son’s pediatrician appointments with their doctor in San Carlos on Mondays and Fridays when she is home. But that doesn’t always work.

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