This past year has allowed a slow return to a resemblance of what life was like before the pandemic. Yet there is one aspect many people would like to remain the same. Remote work became the job benefit many employees didn’t know they wanted until it was thrust upon them during quarantine. And now as the pandemic has officially been declared over, many of the world’s top CEOs have demanded a full return to the office, declaring that in-office policies yield higher productivity, team trust, and creativity. Employees, as well as multiple survey results, disagree with them. The convenience and alleviation of stress that remote work offers are now a priority to most employees.
Companies that are requiring all employees to be in the office five days a week are discovering their demands are being met with disastrous results. For example, Goldman Sachs required a full return to the office in 2022. Yet one year later, many employees just aren’t showing up, and in-person attendance is 10 – 15% lower than it was pre-pandemic. Both Amazon and Disney implemented a return to office policy, to then have thousands of employees petition against it. Yet these two corporate giants have only doubled down on these policies.
The convenience and necessity of remote work are particularly true for women and underrepresented groups. According to a recent survey by Pew Research, women are still carrying more of the burden of household chores and childcare, even in houses where both husband and wife earn the same amount of money. The hybrid work schedules offer the flexibility needed to find more balance in their overburdened lives and open up leadership opportunities where restrictive in-office policies limited them in the past. The 20th-century work location policies are no longer effective, especially for companies that are dedicated to having diverse, gender-balanced leadership.
Sallie Krawcheck, co-founder and CEO of Ellevest said recently in an article to CNBC, “If being in the office was working to get more women and people of color promoted, it would have happened already. It’s not like we didn’t try hard enough.”
So what are employees saying needs to happen? According to a survey completed by Harvard Business Review in 2022, people need more than just company expectations to return to the office. The survey showed that 85% of employees would be motivated to go into the office to rebuild team bonds. 84% of employees would be motivated to go into the office if they could socialize with coworkers. 74% of employees would go to the office more frequently if they knew their “work friends” were there, and 73% of employees would go to the office more frequently if they knew their direct team members would be there. What this boils down to is social connection and team building. This isn’t about “butts in seats,” it’s about rebuilding connections and social capital to refuel creativity, teamwork, and strong support systems that help teams to confidently tackle challenges. Leaders need to make office time together purposeful and intentional and strip away “busy work” like having back-to-back meetings – which negates the point of being together in the office. Use the time together for strategy, brainstorming, planning, problem-solving, and team building. By combining team connection and collaboration in-person with the flexibility of remote work, employees by and large prefer a hybrid work schedule.
According to a survey released in February by International Work Group (IWG), 67% of the respondents said they would be willing to give up a portion of their salary to have a hybrid work schedule. Nearly a quarter (24%) of those making more than $150,000 per year would give up more than $40,000 per year.
Leaders that have not spent time cultivating connections with their teams are being driven by this short-sighted fear and need to control. Progressive leaders understand that they have to move forward with work policies that work for everyone, not just a select few. Leaders need to be intentional and thoughtful in creating and focusing on a process that builds teams, innovation, and creativity. But how do you turn the wheel when fear is in the driver’s seat?
The IWG survey reports that 64% of respondents believe there should be more training on working in the hybrid model. Training will give both leaders and employees the tools needed to build that trust and confidence in this new working culture and not be driven by fear. Modern leaders need to learn how to:
- Make policies on work schedules evidence-based
- Look beyond their own experience and instincts about “what works” and ask members of underrepresented groups what works for them.
- Show intellectual curiosity, not defensiveness, about flex/hybrid work options.
- Collect data on how their policies impact the retention and advancement of women.
- Have the courage to share this data both internally and externally and use it to adapt.
- Remember this: A lot of younger men also expect flexibility around work-life. Like many women, they’ll vote with their feet if their organization insists on re-creating the traditional workplace.
Powers Resource Center (PRC) understands that each company is unique with its own challenges, strengths, and weaknesses. This is why we offer multiple solutions to train your leaders and teams to create an effective, productive, and fulfilled team that is invested in the future of your organization as you move into the future.
Our Everything DiSC Certification gives you the tools to build human connections in a virtual environment and unlock creativity, potential, and trust.
“In my decades of working with corporations, I have seen first-hand that those who implement DiSC across their company culture build psychologically safe teams and facilitate trust faster and more effectively than their counterparts,” said Tara Powers, PRC’s CEO, and founder.
PRC also offers our award-winning Build Up Done-For-You Workshops, which is a turn-key solution to leadership training that is customizable to your company’s brand for immediate, effective employee training materials that trainers can start delivering right now.
Our Level Up Training Master Class offers a full package of workshop design and development resources that will train YOUR trainer to create customized training programs for your company’s unique needs.
These are just a few of the many tools PRC offers to train your leaders and employees for this evolving remote work environment. Leaders need to prepare for both NOW and the future. This includes opening the doors to flexible work policies that advance opportunities for women and underrepresented groups by cultivating effective team dynamics through training. This won’t happen through old policies and fear-based narrow thinking. PRC’s programs can be the bridge between the old and archaic to the new and inventive future of your company.
Contact PRC today to talk about your next steps forward with our training programs for your company!