The “new normal”: Charts on how we at Datawrapper slowly return to the office

Hi, this is Lisa! I'm in charge of communications at Datawrapper. This week I am sharing some numbers that show how many of us have returned to the office after the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the evening of March 16, 2020, our CEO, David, came to my place to bring me a large external monitor, a keyboard, my drawing tablet, and everything else I needed to be able to work productively from home. The last few days had been so strange: Nobody knew what was going on, but everything happened very suddenly. David had decided that work from home was mandatory effective immediately. "I'm asking everyone I visit today," he said. "When do you think we'll be working in the office again?" I thought about it a little. Not working in the office for more than a week or two seemed absurd, but I wanted to give a conservative estimate. "May? Or June?"

Three years later, I'm still working mostly from home. And, as you can see, so do many other Datawrapper employees. First we got used to it, then we learned to appreciate its benefits, and now it truly is the new normal. This opened up new opportunities, too, as we started hiring for 100% remote positions. David calls this the most important benefit of our new hybrid work culture: "Once we learned that remote collaboration worked well, we were able to expand our team to include more people living outside of Berlin. As a result, we now have amazing colleagues in cities like London, Lyon, Stuttgart, and Münster who otherwise couldn't be part of our team."

Let's spend some time with these charts: They show the share of workdays. Over the last four weeks, ca. 50% of the workdays of our team members in Berlin have been spent in the office.

But what about the share of people coming into the office? Do 50% of our Berlin employees visit the office every day and 50% work exclusively from home? The answer is no: Most of us go into the office at least once or twice a week. We are slowly getting there since the beginning of 2022, as you can see here:

You can also see that more and more people are happy to be in the office every working day. At the end of July and the beginning of August, four of us (!) did so. I asked my coworkers why they choose to go to the office:

  • "I like going to the office a lot! Biking to the office and getting some sunlight in (only between March and October here in Berlin 😅) and talking to my co-workers is lovely. I also like bringing my laptop outside to our little terrace. Lately, I've been enjoying going to the office to pet Bravo, Livnah's temporary dog 🐶".
  • "I'm a lot more productive in the office: I can focus better when I see everyone else around me working. And I like having a proper separation between 'home' and 'work' environment (too many distractions at home). When I'm done with work and leave the office, I'm really done with it, I don't tend to open my laptop again once I get home."
  • "Our office is nice and cool in the summer, whereas at my apartment at home it gets very warm."
  • "I like not having to think about lunch – just quickly agree on something with colleagues and have a nice break eating together, instead of having to cook at home."
  • "I come to the office to have lunch with my colleagues!"
  • "I prefer face-to-face meetings: So much gets lost when you're talking to people on video calls."

So far, there's no "return to office" policy at Datawrapper. "We are happy to have a hybrid work culture now," David tells me. "A culture where everyone can work the way that's best for them."

That's all for this week! Next week, our product specialist Guillermina will write a Weekly Chart about biking in Berlin. See you then!