Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW students reflect on remote intern experiences as in-person work rises in Wisconsin

Remote work in Wisconsin drops 11% as companies transition back to in-person work in wake of COVID-19 pandemic
Paige Valley
Epic! Headquarters in Verona, Wi.

Between 2021 and 2022, Wisconsin saw an 11% drop in remote work according to In Madison, remote work decreased by 22%.

This trend is due to companies slowly transitioning back to in-office work after the COVID-19 pandemic according to a study from the Pew Research Center. But, some companies are struggling to fill their offices with the national office vacancy rate rising to 19.6% at the end of 2023, according to Moody Analytics.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a similar increase in vacancy rate as companies enforced remote work to reduce the spread of the virus, according to the Pew Research Center.


But as companies attempt to move back to pre-pandemic levels of office occupancy, some employees site specific benefits to remote work.


University of Wisconsin junior Urmi Shukla worked remotely as an IT intern for General Electric Healthcare last summer and said being away from the office enhanced her focus and professional development.

“[While remote], I still feel just as connected, especially since today most companies are on Microsoft Teams,” Shukla said. “I actually felt like I could focus more because I was at home, and I felt more comfortable in my work environment.”

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But, Shukla also said the convenience of remote work didn’t come without issues. Though Shukla didn’t have to commute anywhere and could work from her home, she said collaboration between other interns was difficult in a virtual workspace.

Though the company often held meetings to connect interns with each other and simulate the office environment, the lack of proximity made it harder for her to seek guidance naturally throughout the work day. As a result, Shukla said she missed the ability to ask others questions and hear back immediately.

“It was kind of hard to collaborate with people, especially as an intern, because there were a lot of things I didn’t have a lot of experience with, so I had a lot of questions,” Shukla said. “And it’s a little more awkward to constantly message people for help than it is to just ask in-person when they’re right there.”

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In a study conducted by The National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers found workers who were randomly assigned to work from home were 18% less productive than those working in-office. This difference was noticed from the first day of remote work with part of the difference being attributed to the slower learning and adapting in the virtual workspace.

UW junior Esha Katare worked in-person as an enginnering intern over the summer at Alliant Power, and continued to work remotely during the school year. Although Katare said working in-person allowed her to do tasks she wouldn’t have been able to do remotely, such as taking photos of the facility, she said collaborating with others was something she preferred to do remotely. 

I would even go far as to say, I feel like I can handle more meetings and communicate effectively if it is online through zoom because there’s less of a transition time,” Katare said. “People aren’t coming in from other buildings, and I feel like I can handle more in one day.”

Although Katare believes in hybrid work as the future of employment due to its benefits in flexibility and work-life balance, she had reservations about the over-reliance on remote work modalities. One of these revolved around degradation of interpersonal communication skills.

According to Microsoft, in-person work is important specifically for Gen Z individuals because of the connections and creative environment it fosters in early professional development. The unique challenges faced by this demographic, including feelings of isolation and difficulty in engaging with work remotely, underline the need for a hybrid approach that incorporates opportunities for in-person collaboration.

“I do know that one of the concerns people have with embracing too much remote work … is that you’re not in-person,” Katare said. “There’s not interpersonal communication, and so you’re not really building those communication skills, whether it’s talking to your superior or in a meeting or giving a presentation.”

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