Two and a half years into the remote work revolution, its long-term implications for the future of work are less clear.
nts know what they want from employees – namely to hire the best people who do their best work. However, you have no idea whether this is remote work, office work or a hybrid.
They pretend they want a hybrid, but some companies are deeply suspicious of it delivering the right productivity.
Employees know what they want – namely as much choice as possible. Some love to work from home. Others hate it and can’t handle it at all. The pragmatic solution seems to be a hybrid model of going to the office two or three days a week.
If you want to understand what will happen in the future with this natural tension between the needs of management and workers, look at the office market.
During the Covid pandemic, large companies continued to pay huge rents for huge buildings that sat empty. They had to because they have long leases.
When companies say they’re happy to go hybrid, they don’t need the space they had before.
Still, only a few large companies are reducing their office space on a large scale. The truth is that most management teams have no idea what works best. When in doubt, stick with the old is a common management mantra.
But bosses know they need to offer something new to potential employees whose expectations have changed.
Take the commercial bank Citigroup, for example. It has opened a new center for young investment bankers in sunny Malaga, with its beaches and hot climate.
About 27 entry-level analysts will go there on half the $100,000 salary they would have earned in London or New York, but have been promised eight-hour workdays and weekends off.
This is about half the typical hours they would normally work on the job. The idea is a real headline maker. Citigroup says it wants to do something to address the burnout problem among junior analysts.
Having 27 juniors at half pay isn’t really going to change the culture of the company or the industry. Why not do something about all those burned out juniors they’ve already hired?
Some bosses are pretty blunt about what they want, and it’s about getting everyone back in the office full-time. Banks like JP Morgan, Goldman and Morgan Stanley are urging their employees to return to the office five days a week.
Elon Musk has told his employees that he’s happy for them to work from home as long as they’ve worked 40 hours in the office.
Midtown Manhattan is overcrowded again and subway ridership has fallen back to two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels.
The Citigroup Malaga option will not become the new norm. The Malaga analysts could be viewed slightly negatively across the company. Does someone who says they want to live near the beach, pay for half the usual hours, and pay half for it signal management that they’re a real go-getter?
The fact that they are away from the main office and showing their thirst for work could affect their career prospects.
They could be marginalized and, as one commenter put it, the new co-ed version of the 1980s and 1990s “mommy track” that sidetracked the careers of many women who chose to cut back their hours.
The Malaga program draws at least some positive attention to the company in a highly competitive hiring environment. It can only be seen as a kind of virtue signal in a crowded market.
Nobody has any idea what the future of remote work will hold. There are scientific studies with conflicting results.
An economist from Stanford University in the US concluded that working from home is fueling the growth of companies around the world. A study found that 77 percent of workers report increased productivity when working remotely. Other reports conclude that those who work full-time from home are 70 percent less productive than those who don’t.
I’ve always believed that the mass remote work spurred by the pandemic was less a revolution and more a series of giant experiments. As with any experiment, the results are incomplete and will be discussed and contested for some time to come.
At home, the M50 seems as busy as ever, particularly Tuesday through Thursday as more workers rediscover the benefits of visiting the office or have been hard-pressed to return.
It’s hard to imagine that the pandemic level of remote work would survive a major recession. Businesses will look to cut costs in a downturn. It is easier to be selected for dismissal when you are not present, direct and central to your bosses.
With so much speculation of an impending recession, this could be one of the reasons we are seeing a return to big traffic in places like Dublin. If you smell a cost cut at work, you better jump in and show your worth.
If managers are truly forced into the situation of long-term remote work, they may well find that employees working in a more cost-effective location do not need as much salary. This lower cost location could be across the country or in a different country entirely.
There is a natural tension between workers and employers. The pandemic has shifted the balance a little more in favor of workers. If real economic pain comes across the tracks, it will tip them back the other way.
https://www.independent.ie/business/in-the-workplace/remote-working-employees-may-see-the-sunny-side-of-things-but-it-could-pay-to-go-in-and-show-the-boss-your-worth-42013534.html Remote work: Employees may see the bright side of things, but it might be worth stepping in and showing the boss your worth