There has been a lot of discourse about hybrid work being the future. The pandemic made the case that staff can work productively at home, despite the concerns of many leaders.
In a discussion with Fortune, Laszlo Bock, former HR chief at Google and current CEO of workflow manager Humu, claimed that the success of hybrid work and its positive reception for some was not enough to stop managers from pushing back and forcing office attendance.
Bock noted: “Most executives have been working in offices for 20 to 30 years, so it’s comfortable for them. It’s the environment in which they know how to lead.
“They [executives] want to go back to what is familiar, and they believe their experience trumps what Humu’s science shows: A hybrid model is better for productivity and happiness than being in the office five days a week.”
Bock previously told Bloomberg that companies would use the ‘Boil the Frog’ method. This simply means that employees will see hybrid work become slowly eroded until they are back in the future of work that they would be unhappy with if immediately presented.
Unpacking this, he told Fortune: “The purpose of the ‘Boil the Frog’ method’ [is] to do it [return to the office five days a week] subtly and thereby avoid difficult questions and conflict.
“But that [method] is not only bad for trust and morale, it’s also not the best thing for employees or for the company.”
Keeping hybrid work
Bock predicts that changes that mark a return to office-life pre-pandemic will begin to be implemented in the next three to five years. However, Bock wants hybrid work to be maintained.
Bock’s own company, Humu, claims that the ideal combination of employee productivity and happiness is based on three days in the office, and two days out of the office.
Humu reasons that this schedule enables friendships and relationships to be formed while giving employees time to work on tasks that are best done in isolation.
If businesses do transition away from hybrid work, they will have to do this as a united front. There must not be one rule for one, and another rule for others.
However, it is important to note that shifting away from hybrid work may not be appealing to workers. This is a concern given that a lack of flexibility is a major cause of the ‘Great Resignation‘. With millions leaving the workforce, companies have to be careful about upsetting or losing existing employees and encountering even larger skill gaps.
One solution could be lots of incentives to encourage staff to come back to the office and retain them in their jobs.
Managers have a role here. They need to listen to employees about their views on the office return. With this in mind, boiling the frog could lead to mass leaps.
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