Slowly but surely, it’s become time for frequent flurries of ‘out of office’ emails, prosecco-and-ping-pong team socials, and the general sense that the year’s already over. At this point, the most useful thing you can do is think about 2022.
It’s been another year of remote working, for most. Of video calls and live documents, later wakeups and virtual stand-ups. So what does the future hold?
A handful of organisations are showing a preference for office-working – including Goldman Sachs, due to CEO David Solomon showing a clear preference to have people back in. Much like Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who’s been outspoken about perceived failures of remote working to accommodate collaboration.
Major players like Facebook and Amazon delayed their office re-opening to January of 2022, but once that happens they’re not expecting everyone in full time. Like many businesses going hybrid, 2-3 days it seems like the common consensus – partly because the pandemic isn’t over, but also to respond to employee demand.
While hybrid working seems to be the most common choice, some companies are choosing to stay solely remote (if employees request it). Twitter is allowing permanent remote working if desired, and Coinbase and Slack will adopt a remote-first approach – essentially allowing the same freedom of choice.
It’s clear that, on the whole, some level of remote working is the preference. To the point that over 60% would think about quitting for a remote job. And with 3/4 of UK workers currently job hunting, that’s a big risk for businesses to take. However, they’re not as keen:
By and large, business leaders aren’t big fans of working from home. There’s a lot of reasons for this – from the loss of control to the lack of visibility – but comes at odds with the fact that remote working isn’t bad for business. Most organisations recognise that too, seeing the second biggest perks being reduced overheads and increased productivity.
Businesses hate it, employees love it – why not consider making everyone happy? A hybrid model could be the right approach here, giving you quality time to collaborate on top of several days of work-life balance. Consider how that’d work for you.
From proximity bias to exacerbating gender divides, getting a remote or hybrid approach right might be tricky. The first thing to do is be conscious of the risks, and aware of how they manifest. Think about the challenges different groups face here.
This is the crucial point: the pandemic’s not over. When considering returning to the office, first ask this: is the office a safe space for all your employees to mingle? Do you have stringent hygiene and social distancing requirements in place? What if things take a turn for the worse, do you backtrack? It’s important to be preemptive.
It’s a very real risk. Taking away what feels more like a right than a perk? That’s not going to be popular, and employees are already threatening to hand in their notice as a result. Not to mention, if they do stay but disagree with your decision, you’ll see poorer performance.
The things that businesses dislike about remote working aren’t necessarily inevitable. After all, dropping into that world unexpectedly during a pandemic wasn’t the best preparation. Review your tools, and understand if there’s ways you can collaborate at a distance.
We can’t stress it enough: this is key. The only way you can know the impact of your next steps – even if you’re fixed to your decision – is by asking. If being office-first is non-negotiable, understanding people’s reservations will help you mitigate them.
With questions on everything from safety concerns to working location preferences, our Returning to the Workplace Survey will help you plan your next steps – or mitigate any challenges based on decisions you’ve already made.