Back to Work or …

Last week this headline caused quite a stir: Elon Musk tells employees to return to the office 40 hours a week — or quit. The story prompted a wide range of discussions amongst organizational leaders who were in the midst of executing plans to move forward with business and life after two and a half years of a global pandemic that changed the way we live, work, play, learn, and feel. Organizations have wrestled to pivot to a new normal – increasing production, creatively solving supply chain constraints, and maintaining a stable, healthy, engaged team.

During the early months of the pandemic, we worked with clients to create policies that provided safe working conditions aligned with the ever-changing government regulations. Many team members were sent home to work. They took the necessary equipment and created a functional home office. For some, it meant that they could relocate and work from different cities. Parents and adult children changed their childcare, schooling, and eldercare solutions. They adopted a flexible workstyle to juggle the new demands of work and life. Some team members discovered that working remotely and creatively addressing family care requirements worked really well.

Fast forward to the recent return-to-work phase. Organizations have grappled with the lingering impacts of the pandemic. Prior to last week, leaders learned that returning to an office location Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. was not an attractive option for a lot of their team members.

The hybrid model was one solution that became popular. Organizations required team members to come into an office a couple of days per week or month. Some leaders synchronized schedules to intentionally gather team members. Others forced a schedule that balanced the number of people that would work in close quarters at any given time. Team members could continue to work from home on the alternate days.

Continuing to offer some job roles a remote-only office solution was another option. It provided an appealing alternative for team members and environmentally conscious organizations. Restaurant servers, as an example, lost their jobs during the height of the pandemic when restaurants were forced to close. Some of these individuals discovered that their skills applied to new career paths. They embraced the remote work and chose to continue down the new path. As a result, it has imposed a significant strain on the restaurants that have reopened and have tried to serve the suppressed demand for a dining experience.

Several organizations offered each team member the option to work at the location of their choice. Surprisingly, that solution didn’t suit everyone’s needs either. Some individuals longed to reconnect with people and eagerly returned to the office, but discovered they were still alone. Few team members took advantage of the option to return to work in a traditional office, so the few individuals that drove to the office encountered a lackluster environment.

Circling back to the Tesla mandate to return to work in the local office reminds me of my early career. I started work during a period of time that hard work and long hours yielded rewards. Burning the candle at both ends was a common strategy to get noticed. The people that were seen arriving in the office early and leaving late in the evening were viewed as loyal, invested, hard-working, and promotable. There were no written promises, but there was an unspoken understanding that hard work paid off. On the rare occasions that severe weather necessitated working from home, having a business phone call with children’s voices in the background was not deemed appropriate.

We just spent two years on web meetings with children’s’ voices, animated images, and pets in view. It added an element of humanity and connected us to one another in new ways. Clearly times have changed.

As many organizations vie for top talent to support their growth objectives and implement new programs to retain their key employees, which work policies will positively impact their businesses? If Elon Musk can require everyone to return to the physical workplace, can other organizations follow suit? How will it impact their human capital? It’s yet to be seen, but the current battle for talent raises a cautionary flag to consider the risks, as we develop strategic plans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headquarters
230 Hampton Woods Lane, Suite 101 Raleigh, NC 27607
Satellite Office
2929 Breezewood Ave. Suite 101, Fayetteville, NC. 28303
OUR LOCATIONSWhere to find us
https://onboardwithus.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/img-footer-map1.jpg
https://onboardwithus.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Veterans-at-work.jpg
Headquarters
230 Hampton Woods Lane, Suite 101 Raleigh, NC 27607
Satellite Office
2929 Breezewood Ave. Suite 101, Fayetteville, NC. 28303
Where to find us
https://onboardwithus.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/img-footer-map1.jpg