By letting people choose their own office adventures, employees can gain back some of what’s sorely missing in American work culture: self-determination. Need to plow through a task that will take you a full day? Stay home. Need to talk through some plans with a few co-workers? Everyone goes in. Kid got the sniffles? Expecting a delivery? Have dinner plans near the office? Do what you need to do to manage your life. Being constantly forced to ask permission to have needs outside your employer’s Q3 goals is humiliating and infantilizing. That was true before the pandemic, but it’s perhaps never been as clear as it is after a year in which many employers expected workers not to miss a beat during a global disaster unlike anything in the past century. Now that many American companies have been forced to adapt to remote-work life, there are good reasons to demand continued flexibility from your employer—and good reasons to believe you could get it. “There's this new realization and awareness of how you work best, what's important in life, and how you want to spend your time,” says Janet Pogue McLaurin, the global-research principal at Gensler, the architecture firm. “People are going to shift to align with that.” Employers, she told me, know that the genie is not going all the way back in the bottle, and some will see this switch as a win-win. They get to reduce their office footprint and brag about providing a highly sought-after benefit that saves them money.