To Office or Not to Office?

That seems to be the ongoing question for many employers and their workers. While the continuing debate of remote vs. in-the-workplace employment had left both managers and their staff scratching their heads to find an equitable solution, some form of remote or hybrid work is here to stay.

A recent Littler survey published by Human Resources Executive states that less than 5% of employers believe that most of their employees who can work remotely would like to return to full-time, in-person work. Yet, 28% of those employers plan to have most employees return full time and in person. Also, while more than 70% believe their people would prefer at least a hybrid model, meaning a combination of both remote and office work, only about 55% plan to offer that hybrid arrangement.

What’s more, these findings are proving not to be an anomaly. Several surveys reveal that in larger companies (500 or more employees), most American workers report that their telecommute experience has been better and more productive than they expected. Another report found that a similar, significant majority of executives polled anticipated that at least half of their workforce would be back in the office in July, with more to follow, should the pandemic diminish later this year, as many hope and expect.

So, where is the disconnect?  Many findings indicate that senior management in most organizations feels that employees in the office will foster a culture of collaboration, teamwork, and enhanced work relationships, not to mention better control over productivity. At the same time, many employees now have a better feel for the advantages of working from home, such as more flexible hours, better management of child care issues, the cost savings and stress reduction of less travel, and other factors. These employees have overcome the challenges of shifting to a remote work environment, and they find that they prefer it.

The key concept for organizations trying to navigate these challenging waters can be summed up in one word: agility. Employers need to be agile in both their mindset and practice regarding the acquisition, development and, most importantly, retention of talent in today’s workplace. The reason? Because employees, and job candidates whom you hope will become employees, are demanding it.

Increasingly, employers are redefining work and jobs to optimize their talent. As many organizations look to accelerate their recovery efforts in the months and years ahead and further distance themselves from the competition, this mindset promises to transform talent effectiveness.

A” bottom-up” approach, focusing on the employee’s needs in alignment with their career aspirations, is expected to become more common as organizations try to engage and retain their top performers. In today’s competitive talent marketplace, understanding the needs and desires of those key difference-makers will go a long way to help determine the level of success an organization will achieve. Have questions? Contact Employers Council; we can help.