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Head back to the office? No thanks, say growing number of workers

By K. Afolevsky

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Head back to the office? No thanks, say a growing number of workers

If there is one thing that the global pandemic of 2020 made clear, it’s that remote work was not only possible, it was eminently desirable for a great many workers out there. And even as the pandemic has abated somewhat, many people would prefer to continue working from home rather than spending time and money commuting to the office daily.

However, their employers don’t feel quite the same way. Almost half of US employers are not willing to entertain the thought of remote work – even hybrid work, which would see workers come into the office 2-3 times a week.


Remote work: a sore point between managers and workers

Working from home obviously has massive benefits for employees. They make huge savings on commutes, work clothing, takeout lunches and coffees, and it also saves them a lot of time. However, a lot of bosses and managers think that the employees’ gains are the company’s losses.

Elon Musk has been particularly vocal about this – the Tesla CEO and Twitter firebrand recently told all employees that Tesla would not retain its position at the top of the pile if employees were “phoning it in”, and demanded a return to the office.

Apple, in a move slightly less draconian than Musk’s, told employees that they were to return to the office at least three days out of the week, but were forced to reconsider when faced with open rebellion from their employees.

It’s a fine line that employers are treading, particularly in the wake of the Great Resignation. Workers are waking up to the fact that they hold a lot of the cards, and the onus is now on employers to keep their employees happy.

Post-pandemic preparation: how workplaces are not ready for returning employees

Even when attempts to get employees to return to the office are successful, unforeseen logistical issues add new wrinkles and even force bosses to backtrack. This was the case for the aforementioned Musk who, after threatening to fire any employee that refused his back-to-the-office mandate, was left in an embarrassing position when it turned out Tesla workspaces simply couldn’t handle the deluge of returning workers. Everything from parking spots to desk-space to even the WiFi was in short supply, leading many managers to have no choice but to direct employees to continue working from home in spite of Musk’s threats.


Google Maps: how the workers faced down a giant

Similarly to Apple, Google Maps operators Cognizant faced down a potential rebellion from their employees when mandating a return to the office for all employees. In that instance, workers actually organized and were on the cusp of a strike before Cognizant relented and granted a 90-day reprieve. This has been seen as more of a stay of execution – but for whom?

The long road back

Many have speculated about whether or not a return to traditional 9-5 office hours is even possible, given the massive shift in the cultural and professional landscape post-pandemic. Reports indicate that, far from encouraging indolence in workers, remote work actually improves productivity whilst making employees much happier than those trapped in the dreaded rush-hour commute. Some employers are coming around to the idea, seeing it as an opportunity to save costs on office space and related costs, and many have begun touting off-peak meeting hours where the team can still get together in person without the bruising exigencies of a full office schedule.

The future remains uncertain, but one thing seems clear: the office will never be the same again.

Keywords : #Futureofemployment #FutureofJob #Futureofwork #remotework 

September 17 2022

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