Emerging corporate refusals to work from remote locations (another, unfortunately, called work from home) is nothing to be ashamed of self-destructive and strange. I say this because at the same time businesses are struggling to attract and retain the talent they need during a severe talent shortage.
It is as if level C executives have argued to their boards: “This shortage of workers is doing us a lot of harm, and it needs to be corrected. But while we are here, let’s make the deficit much worse by undermining the policy of remote workers. “
Apple is a great example because the nature of its operations is ideal for a distributed workforce, and it has seen firsthand all the advantages – and virtually none of the disadvantages – over the past two years. And yet, in the rabbit hole “let’s bring our workers back to corporate buildings” she rushed.
If Apple – or any other company – claimed that material deficiencies on remote sites led to these changes, it could be different. If he claimed that efficiency had fallen (failed), that the quality of work had suffered (not), that managers struggled to get their teams to follow instructions (they didn’t), then perhaps it would not have been so one-sided.
True, however, remote sites have generally worked admirably. There was an expected IT cost to securely configure everyone, but that money has now been spent and it is not refundable. This means that there is not even an argument: “We had to go through these new costs in the early stages of Covid, but these costs are no longer justified.”
These programs also gave all the promised benefits: happier employees; less lost time (and if we drastically reduce the amount of unnecessary video conferencing, lost time will be reduced more); and employees who could translate those hours to work into more work, sleep more and improve work-life balance.
Maintaining (as opposed to creating) such a program has minimal costs, no glitches and helps make the workplace happier. So Apple and others should obviously try to stop this.
To sort out and eliminate a minor argument, it is clear that some positions require an on-site presence, such as some conveyor workers, security guards, cafeteria workers, building maintenance workers and fighters. But for businesses today, the vast majority of workers – especially professionals – can work most of the time perfectly, working remotely.
Apple started with a mandate one day a week at headquarters, then did two, and on May 23 will do so three days a week. It doesn’t make sense for most positions. There is a better way to handle this. Here is what the policy should look like: “If there is a critical reason for a particular employee to be at headquarters, the head of that employee will discuss it individually. Managers will be instructed that this should be an important reason that can only be done at headquarters and only by these employees. Even then, we limit it to a maximum of once a week. “
In other words, in order for an employee to go to a corporate building, there must be a specific reason. “It’s Thursday” and doesn’t come close. Once / twice / three times a week is arbitrary. It should be closer to “how much time you need to do your job based on your supervisor’s written opinion. You can appeal this decision to the chain of command, of course. The last thing we want is for someone to come in when there is no need for it. ”
Many business leaders are just more comfortable communicating in person, as this has likely been a lot of what they have done throughout their careers. According to them, this is how business is conducted.
COVID-19 is part of the confusion. The virus is still with us and will probably stay with us for years, if not forever. Did the flu run away and disappear?
Here’s the confusion: it was COVID that forced businesses to immediately move to remote work. This is not the cause of the remote. In fact, it should have been proposed a few years ago, but at least it is being done now.
Once executives realize that the pandemic has become a push, not the only reason for remote removal, they will see a temporary lull in COVID-19 cases as a reason to weaken remote access.
And there is still a problem with recruiting / retaining talent. Why undermine efficiency, a better work-life balance, happier employees at a time when staffing problems are a problem? If executives want more staff in their buildings, start slow. Start with this: “From now on, all employees and contractors who want to return to corporate buildings can do so. Please do it safely, but be sure to come back if you want. ”
It should not undermine morale and force anyone to leave the company. And yet it attracts more people to the office.
Behind this remote movement is probably the vague belief of some executives that creativity and the exchange of ideas have fallen. Can they prove it? And if so, are there any ways to solve this problem so as not to destroy a successful remote program?
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