Going back to the office

    Business Spotlight Audio 11/2023
    Overhead view of office with employees walking around
    © gremlin/iStock.com
    Von Rachel Preece

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    While some companies have gone fully remote, others have opted for hybrid working scheduleTerminplan, der Arbeiten im Büro und Homeoffice ermöglichthybrid work schedules or have even forced workers to return to the office. This dialogue is based on the Head-to-Head article “Do we need rules for going back to the office?” Michelle and Kyle, two colleagues at Metropolitan Mayhem, discuss the issueFrage, Problemissue in this dialogue. Listen carefully because we will test your understanding of the dialogue afterwards.

    Michelle: Hi, Kyle. How’s it going?

    Kyle: I’ve been better. I’m not going to lie.

    Michelle: Oh, dear. What's up? (ifml.)Was ist los?What’s up?

    Kyle: Well, I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but Davina has just told me that the company is going to force everyone to come back into the office. They are going to ban sth.etw. verbietenban remote work. Apparently, HR (human resources)PeronalwesenHR is going to make the announcement later on today at the staff meeting.

    Michelle: Really? Wow, I’m shocked. I’m curious to hear the logic behind that decision. They’re shoot oneself in the foot (ifml.)ein Eigentor schießen, sich ins eigene Fleisch schneidenshooting themselves in the foot if you ask me — the company will just ostracize oneself from sth.hier: sich etw. verschließenostracize itself from the talent poolPool an talentierten Mitarbeitern/Mitarbeiterinnentalent pool and have a wave of resignationKündigungresignations from current members of staff.

    Kyle: I know, that’s how I feel about it, but they are argue that…behaupten, dass …arguing that people are hard-wired: sb. is ~es liegt in jmds. Genenhard-wired to thrive on sth.durch etw. gedeihen; hier: etw. brauchenthrive on human connection. They say that creative processes are suffering as a result of remote work.

    Michelle: Couldn’t they just organize some offsiteMeeting außerhalb des Bürosoffsites to bring people together every couple of months? They could opt for a hybrid work schedule instead of making everyone come in every single day. Going from a really flexible policy that offers workers the choice to work from wherever they want to a fully office-based working model seems like a step in the wrong direction to me.

    Kyle: Hmmm, it’s a trickyschwierigtricky one. I mean, on the one hand, I can see their pointhier: Argumentpoint about new hireneue(r) Mitarbeiter( in)new hires finding it hard to acquire knowledge and relationships within the company if over half the workforce is at home, but on the other hand, commutependelncommuting every day would really affect sth.sich auf etw. auswirkenaffect our work-life balance.

    Michelle: Each individual’s situation is uniqueindividuellunique. If I lived by myself, I might welcome a move back to the office, but I live with my partner, so I get enough social interaction at home. At the moment, I’m quite happy coming in two to three days a week and spending the rest of the time at home.

    Kyle: Yes, personally, I think flexibility and autonomy are key: be ~wesentlich seinkey. But I have a sneakingschleichend; hier: heimlichsneaking suspicionVerdachtsuspicion that this decision has more to do with the high rent the company must be paying for the office space. It must be annoyingärgerlichannoying to pay through the nose (ifml.)einen Haufen Geld bezahlen, Wucherpreise zahlenpay through the nose for an office full of empty chairs.

    Michelle: Yeah, but there are savvy (ifml.)klug, ausgebufftsavvier solutions to that issue. They could convert sth.etw. umwandelnconvert a portion of the office into a co-working space, rent out a few desks and get employees to book their desk space a day in advance. Surely, that would be a better solution than forcing everyone back to the office?

    OK, now let’s test your understanding of the dialogue you have just heard. Decide whether the following statements are true or false. You will hear the answers after the sound that follows each sentence.

    1. The official announcement about the decision to ban remote work will take place at a company-wide meeting.

    • This statement is true. The official announcement about the decision to ban remote work will take place at a “staff meeting”. This type of meeting is the same as a “company-wide meeting”. All employees are present at this type of meeting.

    2. Michelle thinks that potential applicantBewerber(in)applicants will be less likely to apply (for sth.)sich (für etw.) bewerbenapply as a result of the company’s decision to ban remote work.

    • This statement is true. Michelle thinks that the company will ostracize itself from the talent pool as a result of its decision. If you “ostracize yourself from” a group of people, you alienate yourself, making yourself an outsider rather than a member of the group.

    3. The decision to ban remote work was taken to make it easier for long-standinglangjähriglong-standing members of staff to feel integrated in the company.

    • This statement is false. One of the reasons that the decision was taken was to make it easier for new hires to acquire knowledge and relationships within the company. A “long-standing member of staff” is a person who has worked for the same company for a long time.

    4. Michelle thinks that the company should make everyone come in every day instead of adopting a hybrid work schedule.

    • This statement is false. Michelle thinks that the company should opt for a hybrid work schedule instead of making everyone come in every day. If you “opt for” something, then you “choose” it.

    5. Kyle believes that the real reason for the decision might be financial.

    • This statement is true. Kyle has a “sneaking suspicion” that the people in charge of the company might be frustrated about paying high rent for a half-empty office. He uses the expression “to pay through the nose”, which means “to pay a lot of money for something”.

    6. Michelle believes that the smartest solution would be to stop renting the office and move the entire company into a co-working space.

    • This statement is false. Michelle suggests converting a portion of the office into a co-working space and getting employees to book the remaining desk spaces a day in advance.

    Did you get all of those right? If not, listen to the dialogue again and try the exercise once more.


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