“Previously, we were seeing an increase in productivity levels. I think there was probably something new about working from home and having that new freedom and autonomy,” said Laura Putnam, CEO of Motion Infusion.
“But now, what we’re starting to see is that as we continue down this path… our productivity levels are actually going down.”
While many studies have detailed how workers have benefited from being able to work at home, these benefits won’t lastsaid Laura Putnam, executive director of Motion Infusion.
“There is a feeling that we as human beings are elevated up to… the moment. And this is what happened, actually, with the pandemic,” he said.
One thing it points to is the level of commitment from the workers.
“At the start of the pandemic, our engagement levels went up, which is kind of amazing,” he said. “But then, after the murder of George Floyd and as we continued with the pandemic, participation rates fell to all-time lows. So, they went from all-time highs to all-time lows.”
For a company that has benefited greatly from the new reality, hybrid has worked and sees it as the way forward.
“In our future of work model, our employees can choose their preferred work style. Given the outstanding success of remote work, we are not pushing to reopen offices. Instead, we are gradually integrating it as part of our hybrid model. We continue to learn and adjust as creating a great program to bring teams and employees together is incredibly important,” said Matthew Saxon, chief people officer at Zoom, whose sales increased 326% to $2.6 billion in 2020.
Saxon said leaders want to create an environment that enables productivity, increases team collaboration and helps contribute to a strong company culture. For some organizations, that means fully remote or hybrid work. For others, those goals can only be achieved through in-person work.
“It is crucial to test and learn what works for each company and its employees, and from there, adapt where necessary,” he said.
“Listening to our employees is a top priority that leads to mutual trust between our leaders and employers. Talking with our employees about potential plans and the complexities of decisions, and then listening to their feedback, is one way to build this deeper trust. Ensuring clear transparency with return-to-office policies and listening to what employees prefer should be a priority.”
But the old guard is still in love with the old ways and will continue to fight to go back to the way it was before, according to a new report.
Predictions 2023: Future of Work, authored by Forrester, found that four in 10 hybrid work companies will try to undo any work and fail, with 49% of leaders expected to drastically alter their approach back to the office this year.
Why? Well, it all comes down to economic panic and inflation fears.
Employers are having a knee-jerk reaction to the current talent shortage and are inadvertently falling back into old habits, said JP Gownder, principal analyst at Forrester.
“Many employers have not rushed to try to undo remote work; more than two-thirds of companies have relaxed their policies compared to before COVID,” she said.
“However, as company bottom line and financial performance struggle, some leaders are turning to old lessons learned over long careers.
“The data indicates that, on average, employees are most productive at home, so hybrid or anywhere-first approaches will increase productivity. However, old-school leaders like to see people in front of them, which often doesn’t boost productivity, while in other cases there are legitimate reasons for employees to spend at least some time in the office.”
‘The return is expensive’
For those employers who insist on forcing employees back to the mother ship, it will cost them, found a new poll.
Employers will have to dish out more cash if they want their workers to return to the workplace full-time: Workers would agree to this in exchange for a 26.93% pay rise, according to the survey of more than 300 adults, conducted in September.
“The result is a warning to employers: think twice before forcing employees back to the office full time,” said Stefani Balinsky, Hardbacon’s editor-in-chief.
“Return is expensive for you and your employees.”
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