Are we going to take stock of remote work?
After the pandemic forced offices to close, millions of people converted homes and apartments into workspaces and helped keep their businesses afloat. Many want to continue working remotely and employers have spoken of adopting hybrid models.
But there is a big gap.
While most employees think remote working is beneficial and increases performance, most managers take a negative view.
In a July survey of 817 supervisors, nearly three-quarters said they would prefer all subordinates to work in the office. A good portion, 42%, sometimes forget about teleworkers when assigning tasks.
Perhaps the most disturbing result: Two-thirds of supervisors said they considered remote workers “more easily replaceable” than on-site workers.
“It scares me for those who work remotely,” said Liz petersen, quality manager of the HR knowledge center of the Human resources management company, who conducted the investigation. “The biggest concern is that it depends on your industry, your business, your culture and management, as well as your employees. Remote working will not be for everyone.
From late June to early July, about 1.74 million employees in Dallas-Fort Worth used remote work due to the pandemic, according to the US Census Bureau’s Household pulse survey. It was down nearly a million from December, when COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked.
But it’s still much bigger than in 2019, when 250,000 employees worked from home at D-FW.
Yet some employers insist that meeting in person is essential to collaborate, develop skills, create a sense of belonging, network and be a mentor.
McKinsey cautioned against this disconnect in a July report titled: “It’s Time for Leaders to Realize the Hybrid.” “
Companies want to bring workers back to the office in droves, but employees resist, and that could scare people away. Nearly 4 million American workers left their jobs in April, the highest monthly number on record.
“Employers must deal with the growing disconnect between how they and their employees see the future,” the McKinsey report noted. “At best, the rosy message of a big comeback to the office falls flat.”
At worst, it could lead to waves of departures, what McKinsey has called “the big attrition” of 2021 and beyond.
The way forward starts with recognizing that it will take time to figure this out, said Mihir Mysore, co-author of the report and partner in McKinsey’s Houston office. It is difficult, he says, to disentangle conflicting messages from employees.
They often complain that they cannot disconnect from their work and keep their personal lives separate, which suggests that working remotely causes burnout. They also say they don’t want to return to the office due to mental stress, which suggests they want to continue working from home.
“What we suspect is that different segments of the employee population are sending different types of messages,” Mysore said.
Veteran workers with family responsibilities may have made stronger bonds with their children and spouses while working at home. Many also developed other good habits during the pandemic.
They “find it hard to let go of this because they are safe in their city, safe in their network and safe in their net worth,” Mysore said.
But many young workers are eager to gain experience and develop deeper relationships. Mysore quoted a youngster from a corporate client who complained about not having enough opportunities – literally to work.
He said his supervisors had more time and therefore did more of the work he did before, Mysore said.
Remote work dominates the conversation in the job market. In a July survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement company, 172 HR and business executives were asked what drives so many to quit. Almost 74% said workers want more flexibility, the main problem by far.
“Supervisors can say these workers are replaceable, but more employees think companies are replaceable right now,” said Andrew Challenger, first vice-president of the company.
He said it has never been easier for recruiters to reach candidates as they work from home with no friends or colleagues nearby. The corporate culture and “connective tissue” that bound many employees and employers have frayed during the pandemic, he added.
“I’m calling people today about job opportunities, and every person is picking up,” Challenger said. “The workforce situation is so tough and the talent shortage is so real that I think companies are just capitulating to hybrid and remote work. “
The vast majority of workers have been removed since the start of the pandemic, including 3,000 at its US headquarters in Plano. Early on, the company said it would adopt a hybrid model, and Clark said it was open to people working from home all the time.
“In almost all cases, we’re pretty comfortable with that if they’re productive,” Clark said. “We’re really focused on empowering the worker in these situations.
NTT Data, which provides IT services around the world, has been outsourcing for years. Even before the pandemic, employees were using technology to build major systems rather than assembling a “war room” of experts on site.
“Whether you’re at home or in a remote office building, it doesn’t really matter,” Clark said. “And we don’t forget our teleworkers. “
NTT Data isn’t rushing back to the office, not with the soaring delta variant and new masking guidelines. The company has invested in virtual ways to collaborate and employees are improving in their digital engagements, he said.
But many still yearn for face-to-face interactions, and he’s worried about long hours working remotely.
“It’s a success and the productivity continues to increase,” said Clark. “But I’m starting to wonder how long we can keep it going.”