Remote working was rare before COVID-19 hit in 2020. The vast majority of professional, white-collar workers worked in the office five days a week.
But now that has completed switched. The pandemic forced office workers to work from home full time to stay safe from COVID-19. Two years (and multiple viral variants) later, employees are now starting to return to the office.
Hybrid working seems to be the preferred model for the vast majority of workers. This is when employees split their week between the office and remote locations.
But research by employment background check provider GoodHire found that managers want to return to full-time office work in the near future.
60% of 3,500 managers surveyed agreed that a full-time return to the office would happen. The same percentage thought that their companies would mandate full-time remote work; just 24% didn’t believe there would be an office mandate at their organization.
Shockingly, 77% of these managers said they would be preferred to severely punish any workers who disobeyed the mandate – this included firing them, pay cuts, loss of benefits like paid time off. Just 23% said they would allow full-time remote work for certain individuals.
Could this suggest that former Google HR chief, and now CEO of Humu, Laszlo Bock was right – hybrid work is on its way out and the office is going to be the future?
Managers are out of touch
Forcing full-time office work on employees is a risky move. This is because we are living through a competitive war for talent – which has been dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’ – where employers are struggling to retain and attract talent.
The US managers acknowledged this to GoodHire – their main concerns about fully in-office work was employee dissatisfaction and them quitting for remote work opportunities.
However, this doesn’t seem to stop them from forging ahead with the office mandates. This is, puzzlingly, despite 68% saying remote work was good for businesses and 73% admitting that productivity and engagement stayed the same or improved when employees were working from home.
“As much as employees love remote work, managers are concerned about control,” notes GoodHire. “In fact, some companies are even resorting to tools like…that monitor workers’ computer activity.”
Ultimately, “as long as there is a talent and labor shortage, however, employers will still have to be flexible, and even in 100% back-to-the-office situations, workers will still be able to negotiate some remote working scenarios.”
Now is not the time to rock the boat. Managers must not assume they know what employees want – 51% told GoodHire employees wanted to return to the office full time, but have they taken the time to ask their workers?
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