Ok, in recent blogs I have talked about how the pandemic has changed our employee-employer work relationship for good in many cases. Those employers who think they can gradually get back to 100% pre-pandemic in terms of employee work arrangements are in for a shock. You don’t have to look hard to see employee surveys and opinion polls all indicating a marked shift in employee mindset when it comes to a hybrid type work models post pandemic. Many employers are sitting on the sidelines now in the midst of a 4th wave here, trying to figure out what a return to work will actually look like. Many other employers I see are being proactive and have already re-designed offices for a much smaller on-site presence.
The myth of low productivity associated with work from home has unquestionably been shattered. In fact the opposite has proven to be true. Companies and managers that require an old fashioned 5 days a week office presence are either tone deaf or in denial of the monumental shift in how we will work going forward. Hiring good people will be in some ways made easier by these companies because their employees will not want to stick around after having experienced a long work from home trial brought on by the pandemic.
Company cultures will play a significant part in employee hiring decisions. I am seeing this already, prospective employees demanding that their offer letters contain descriptive language that describes the work from home arrangements post pandemic. I am personally seeing more applicants asking about the company culture even in a first screening interview.
Here’s what I see the progressive/smart companies doing now:
- They are talking 1:1 with their employees about their views on WFH going forward. In some cases they are already re-configuring offices for more transient work stations and overall less space. They are trying to find the right balance per employee per job.
- They are defining best practices of how management of work from home employees should work going forward based on 18 months of recent experience now.
- They are being pro-active in recruitment ads by outlining the company policy on work from home.
- They are carefully “weeding out” managers in some cases for not being supportive of WFH initiatives and policy.
- They have put specific team building and communication systems in place to keep employees properly connected.
- They are offering WFH office expenses as incentives to continue to work from home.
- They have very specific WFH agreements in place specific to each job which is eligible.
In short, our work life has undergone an unprecedented/unpredicted monumental change and the need to be aware of this in all aspects of the effect on employees and businesses is in many ways about business survival itself.
RETURN TO WORK – OR NOT???
By: Ron Guest, Senior Partner
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