Companies across the U.S. are trying to persuade workers to return to the office – at least part-time. What will this mean for the future of remote work?
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The COVID-19 pandemic created new and innovative for employers and employees to work together when in-person work was impossible. A number of workplaces in the post-pandemic era have kept some level of remote work and have introduced a hybrid approach to work. However, now that COVID-19 is better managed, workplaces like Zoom and Meta require employees to return to the office at least a few days per week.
According to KPMG's Global CEO Outlook, research showed that 63 percent of CEOs predict a full return to in-office work by the end of 2026, while only 7 percent believe that full-time remote work will continue in the long term.
What does this mean for the future of work?
1. There will be a resurgence in entrepreneurship
One primary causality of the COVID-19 pandemic was that people learned to create wealth for themselves. Many employers were laying off their workers out of fear, requiring people to figure out how to make money to survive and take care of their families. I suspect the same thing will happen as more employers force employees back into the office. Now don't get me wrong, there are many benefits to working in-person like – in-person gatherings, productivity, and more. The problem is that many employers are FORCING employees to have to choose. One of the biggest benefits of remote work is that it helps to increase work-life balance for employees. We can never get time back so anything that will help employees function better at work and in their lives is a crucial benefit.
If employers begin to take the stance that employees have to return to the office full-time, then they are going to begin having a turnover problem. Think about it. Pre-pandemic most employers offered workers 2 weeks of vacation annually unless they've worked for the company for 5 years. There are 52 weeks in a year and most workers had on average two weeks per year to dedicate to full-time rest before COVID-19. In the United States, we do have an issue with work-life balance especially compared to other countries in Europe. The rise of remote work was bound to happen at some point. A better and more sustainable approach would be 2-3 times per week in the office, with a remote option. Otherwise, employers are going to find themselves in the same place last year – worrying about The Great Resignation.
Check out our previous podcast episode – The Great Resignation or the Great Reorganization.
2. Employers will encourage more in-office gatherings
According to Gallup, 90% of office workers said they didn't wish to return to the old ways of working. This will force employers to come up with creative solutions to meet the needs of their employees while promoting more in-office work. A great compromise is to encourage workers to be in the office for pertinent meetings, training, or group collaborations. For example, when I worked as a Chief Operations Officer, the company was 90% remote which meant I had to get creative to promote interactive gatherings. Typically, I planned 4 in-person retreats annually to encourage us to plan in advance for every quarter, encourage team building, and host any necessary training. To keep things interesting, I planned on 2 out of 4 of these to be off-site retreats making it fun and interesting for employees to attend. I believe it's beneficial every now and then to step away from the computer and engage interactively with one another.
3. An increase in absenteeism
Remote work helps to decrease numbers in absenteeism because it allows employees the flexibility to work from anywhere. For example, if you're battling the cold or flu – you could easily work from the comfort of your own home without risking exposure to your colleagues. Let's get real for a moment. There are times when you don't have the mental capacity to go into the office because of all the things you could be dealing with – sick kiddos, coordinating with contractors, illness, death, mental health and so much more. If employers make the return to the office mandatory full-time, it'll cause employees and workers to call out and take more days off. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing since we always want to encourage employees to take time off. However, COVID-19 has taught us that getting over illness in a day or two is not always realistic (It took on average 10 days for people to get over COVID-19). This is something employers need to consider when making plans to change their remote work policy.
Employers will need to consider the needs and desires of their employees and workers in order to prioritize both business needs and employee well-being. Instead of forcing workers to return to the office full-time, employers should consider a hybrid or an optional model. Some workers have increased productivity working remotely, while others have it in the office. The key is to understand that not everyone is the same – we all work and thrive differently. It's important for employers to understand that in order to redefine traditional work structures.
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Hire Breakthrough™ specializes in taking the breakdown out of your hiring breakthrough for business owners, startups, and corporations. In addition to providing recruitment services and consulting services tailored specifically to each client’s needs, we also offer programs and training on how to start your own successful 6-figure recruitment agency.
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