I can't let my team work from home, they might not work hard.
Sounds like you hire clowns. Maybe you should improve your hiring process. How do you track what they are getting done now?
I don't know. Now I walk around and ask them, and we have meetings where we talk about it; if I'm not around how would I know if they were slacking off?
Maybe you should work to improve what you measure and how you encourage feedback. It is normally a good idea to have ways to tell if people are doing a good job for what you are paying them to do.
But if I can’t see them to make sure they are working, then I can’t manage them.
Sounds like you need to level up as a manager. There are other skills to improve how you manage different types of teams and working styles. Your job as a leader is to have a productive team; take ownership of this and adjust to running a productive team in a new way.
But we can’t let our people not see each other, they won’t communicate well.
People coordinate large projects all the time without being in the same place. You might want to think about improving your processes. Some simple changes could improve your communication.
I can't imagine another day of long Zoom meetings.
The last year isn't typical remote work; most companies were rushing to move away from the office, but were not embracing remote work. Remote work, if done well, is not a day full of Zoom meetings. GitLab, a $6B company, has a guide that might be an interesting read. In it, they say that the company is in the Skeumorph phase when they just do everything the same way, but not in the same place. You can mature past this into later phases where you don't spend so much on video calls.
I'm a manager, if I spend less time in meetings, what am I going to be doing all day?
I appreciate the honesty; that sounds like a great problem to have. Thinking strategically, helping to grow your people, writing documents that would have been meetings. You will be plenty busy, just in a different way.
If we let people work from home they might leave the company.
Sounds like if they want to and you don’t let them, they will leave to one of the many companies that let them. I hope none of them are your competitors.
But we are paying all this money for office space, I don't want to waste that.
That is ultimately your call. Depending on your business, losing a few key employees might be worse that eating a year of a lease. Depending on your business, reducing in-person meetings, being able to hire talented people a few hours away, and having happier more loyal employees might be less important than a big lease cost. Also, you might be experiencing the Sunk Cost Fallacy.
I don't want to change the way I work, I just want people to join me in the office. My kids are driving me crazy. Is it weird to say I'm lonely; I miss my office friends.
The office has some great things going for it. Have you ever sat down and listed them and thought about how more established companies make sure those things happen without an office? You might be surprised. Also, some of the things you get out of the office are things you can get elsewhere. You can choose your friends independently of your work, and there are ways to figure out how to work around your kids.
Your people might also need to get better at remote work.
You might also want to learn how to handle your kids while working from home.