The fading promise of remote-work: Employees feel the sting of the bungled transitions back to the office – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2021-06-09 06:05:36 –

A good example of this is a recent editorial by the CEO of a Washington, DC magazine, which could lose medical and other benefits if workers insist that they continue to work remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes. The staff refused to publish for a day and responded.

The CEO later apologized, but she’s not the only one who seems to have hampered the transition to the office after more than a year when tens of millions of employees were forced to work from home. In a recent survey of full-time business or government officials, two-thirds said their employers didn’t or only vaguely communicate their post-pandemic office strategy.

As labor mechanics, we are interested in clarifying how workers deal with this situation. According to our recent research, this clear communication failure negatively impacts morale, culture, and retention.

Immigrant workers

In July 2020, a home waiting order closed the office and remote work was widespread, so we first began investigating the workers’ pandemic experience. At the time, we wanted to know how employees could take advantage of their new freedom to work virtually from anywhere.

The Business and Technology Newsletter analyzed the dataset obtained by surveying 585,000 active readers. It asked them if they plan to move within the next six months and asked them to share a story about why and where they came from and where they moved.

As a result of the examination, a little less than 3,000 people answered, of which 1,361 were planning to move or have recently moved. We systematically coded these reactions to understand their motivation and the degree of ongoing remote work policy they are likely to need based on the distance traveled.

It turns out that some of these employees need to arrange full remote work based on the distance traveled from the office, while others face longer commute. Among the many workers who moved during the pandemic, some explicit or implicit expectation for continuous remote work was woven throughout this.

In other words, many of these workers acted on the assumption or promise that they could continue to work remotely for at least some time after the pandemic ended. Or, if the employer was not obliged, they seemed willing to quit.

When the pandemic began to converge in March 2021, I wanted to see how these expectations were met, so I searched the Reddit online community to find out what employees were saying. A forum was especially helpful. One member asked, “Did your employer make remotework permanent or are you still considering it?” And he continued to share his own experience. This post generated 101 responses with considerable details about what each company was doing.

This qualitative data is just a small sample that doesn’t necessarily represent the entire U.S. population, but these posts provided a deeper understanding of workers’ feelings that simple statistics cannot provide. .. It turns out that there is a disconnect between employees and management that begins with the problem of the remotework policy itself and goes beyond it. Broadly speaking, we found three repeating themes in these anonymous posts.

1. Breaking the promise of remote work

Others have discovered that people are taking advantage of pandemic-related telework to move to cities far enough away to require partial or full-time remote work after returning to the office. .. A recent study by consulting firm PwC found that nearly a quarter of employees are considering or planning to move more than 50 miles from one of their employer’s headquarters. .. The survey also found that 12% were already doing so without finding a new job during the pandemic.

Our early findings showed that some workers quit their current jobs at the request of their employers without giving up on their new location. One employee planned to move from Phoenix to Tulsa with his fiancé after the company became remote, planning to get a larger area at a lower rent. She then had to quit her job to move, “they said they would allow me to work from home, but they said it was okay.”

Another employee said the teleworking promise was only an implicit understanding, but after the leader “continued to work from home and offended us for months that he was likely to be able to work occasionally.” When they changed their minds, he was still hopeful that employees were asked to return to the office once they were vaccinated.

2. Confused remote work policy

Another refrain we often see in employee comments was the disappointment or lack of a company’s remote work policy. Almost a quarter of our sample people, whether their employees are currently in remote locations, returning to the office, or still uncertain, have their leaders driving policy. I found that I didn’t give a meaningful explanation as to why I was there. To make matters worse, the explanation could be confusing or insulting.

One employee complained that the manager “want to sit down because we couldn’t trust him.” [work from home] I’ve been doing it since last March, “he added,” I’ll notify you on Monday. “

Another company complains that everyone has a two-week deadline to return to the office. “Our management felt that people weren’t productive at home. As a company, we’ve achieved most of our goals this year …. it doesn’t make sense.”

It’s not surprising that workers need time to re-adapt to office life after a long office closure, and recent findings show that. Switch when recalling employees. Employers who switch quickly and lack clarified grounds are at risk of appearing deaf.

This is a lack of confidence in productivity when many employees are spending more effort than ever and reporting that they are nervous due to the intensity of digitization of their work, the increase in online meetings and chats. Indicates that you are doing. Employees blame them for motivation, even if the company says they don’t need to return to the office, and many say they have financial motivation.

“We will be hybrids,” wrote one worker. “Personally, I don’t think the company is doing it for us … I think they understand how efficient and how much money they are saving.”

In our sample, very few employees said the company asked for feedback on what their employees really wanted from future remote work policies. Given that leaders are interested in corporate culture, they are missing out on important opportunities to engage with workers on this issue, demonstrating that their policy base is not limited to dollars and cents. We are thinking.

3. Corporate culture “BS”

Management gurus such as Peter Drucker and other scholars have found that corporate culture is very important for connecting workers within an organization. Corporate culture is essentially shared among its members. The values ​​and beliefs that are made. This is more difficult to grow if everyone is working remotely.

That’s probably why corporate HR professionals cite maintaining an organizational culture as a top priority for the 2021 workforce. Keeping workers away, this kind of “building of culture” is unwelcome. Insisted.

“Everyone came to the office for an outdoor lunch a week ago,” a worker’s company added, “stupid,” according to a post.

Research shows that when it comes to corporate culture issues, employees want more remote work resources, up-to-date flexibility policies, and more communication from leadership. I did. As another employee said, “I can tell you that most people rarely flip over” corporate culture “twice and think it’s BS. “

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