EXPAT VOICES: Foreign employees on returning to office vs. hybrid work in Czechia

In an earlier survey, we asked readers how much they prioritize hybrid or fully remote working, and whether they base job searches on this.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 12.02.2024 16:03:00 (updated on 15.02.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns changed the face of working in Czechia as across the world. Almost four years later, remote working in many industries has become the norm rather than the exception, redefining trends in the labor market and shaping people’s priorities when searching for jobs.

However, the working-from-home trend may be reversing on a global level. A recent study from the U.S. found that a whopping 90 percent of companies plan to implement return-to-office policies by the end of 2024.

With an increasing number of companies in Czechia asking their employees to return to the office for part of the week (or even every day), we asked our readers just how important remote working is to them.

Does it sway whether (or not) you’ll apply for a job? Would you ever join a company that offered no chance of working from home? If your current company made you “come back” to the office five days a week, would you seek opportunities elsewhere?

We also wanted to know the challenges associated with your work arrangement – whether you work in the office, at home, or a mix of both.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

How important is flexible working in choosing jobs?

Reader Zeke, a business consultant who fully works from home, recounts his experience when applying for jobs in Czechia: “I kept trying to find mostly remote work, as that’s what I’ve done since 2020, but more and more Czech companies are now requiring at least three days a week in the office. I now work for a U.S. company fully remotely.”

“Offices are obsolete. If 100-percent remote work is not possible, I don't even apply for the job.”

An Expats.cz reader

Another reader said: "I am not willing to work for any company that requires me to be in an office full-time.” Similarly, reader Dunston – a supply-chain manager who also works only from home – says: “I would only consider a job that was fully remote or, at worst, hybrid.”

All other readers praised the importance of working from home, citing improved work-life balance and productivity. In fact, every single response in our survey approved of remote working and home-office arrangements. “I just aim for jobs that allow a hybrid model and the possibility to work from abroad at least three months per year,” said Francisco, an accounts payable team lead who works hybrid.

“I would not accept a job without home office entitlement or a hybrid mandate,” replied Joe, a commodity manager who works fully remotely. 

What are the challenges with working in the office – or remotely?

Readers listed several benefits associated with not being in the office – although others admitted there were some advantages to being physically present with other colleagues. 

Commuting, communication, meetings, and distractions were the most frequently mentioned themes.

Zeke only sees the positive aspects of remote working. “There is no commuting, no pre-preparing lunch. I can go to the gym at 8 a.m. and start work by 10 a.m. Flexibility was my main criterion when it came to finding a job, and I was unemployed for almost three months because of it. It’s not easy to find a job that offers such flexibility. But it’s totally worth it,” he said.

A recent study by investment management company Colliers found that hybrid work models attract seven times more candidates in Czechia.

“In the office, I am much less efficient, my work-life balance is much worse, I have to face micromanagement, there is not much space for teams to work together, and there is no possibility of regulating temperature (such as opening windows) as per individual needs,” said reader Renata, a freelancer.

Maria, a hybrid worker, notes the time saved by working at home: “I live far from the office (one hour commuting per journey)...by the time I arrive at the office, I am already mentally and physically tired. As I was working full time at home during Covid-19, my quality of work was better, I was more relaxed and less stressed.”

Reader Simonas, a test engineer, notably pointed out that working fully remotely negated the need for relocation and moving to potentially more expensive neighborhoods; it gave more locational freedom. They also believe that working in the office has a “big impact on mental health” due to the “inability to properly work in an open-plan office space due to ADHD and other psychological issues.”

Are you currently allowed to work remotely in your job?

Yes, whenever I want and for however long 47 %
I can work from home once or twice per week 26 %
I work remotely three or four days weekly 18 %
I can't work remotely at all 9 %
465 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

One reader who works at SAP told Expats.cz that the company is asking them to return to the office for three days per week. “Until now, we had the freedom to work from home. Now we're forced to return to the office three days a week. It's a huge problem for many people as it will greatly increase the expenses and time spent on commuting,” they said.

“The office is distracting. I can’t work properly with so much chatter,” said technical account manager Eoin.” 

“Working hybridly, I have been able to expand into a role that does not operate only within the boundaries of the Czech Republic,” he says.

Reader Dustan

One reader working at the Czech branch of beverage company AB InBev, which recently told its employees to return to the office five days per week, said there was still some hope for flexibility: "You can still align with your manager, so it's not a 100-percent back-to-office policy."

The downsides of remote working

There are some aspects of working in an office that remote roles cannot provide (or struggle to), according to some responses. “Having a company that has a mix of remote- and in-person- working employees can make communication difficult,” says reader Alen.

Other readers, like Dustan, also admit that the “lack of face-to-face contact with colleagues” can be challenging. Florencia, a fully remote-working reader at a multinational pharmaceutical company in Prague, says: “If I consider my previous team, I can see a motivational impact when people are not experiencing at least one day a week of face-to-face interactions.”

Another reader noted that “some meetings are better done in an office.”

Joel also says that one problem fully remote working involves is drawing a definite line between one’s workspace and living space.

With many companies in Czechia asking their employees to return to the office, and others conversely deciding to go fully remote, workers and job seekers will need to adapt to companies' wants – and in many cases vice versa – in the shifting Czech job landscape.

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