Employees want to work from home. Their bosses, however, can’t wait to get back to the office. Experts believe that remote work improves their work, while managers are worried that such an arrangement could lead to a deterioration in the quality of work. But by letting go of remote work, companies may now be masking the real scourge of creativity: too much work.
According to a Slack Future Forum Pulse poll, executives nearly three times more likely than non-executives said they wanted to return to the office full-time. The report found that while nearly 80 percent of knowledge workers want flexibility in where they work – citing benefits ranging from work-life balance to reduced anxiety at work and a better sense of belonging – their employers think such an arrangement will lead to various diseases, reducing the collaboration, creativity and culture of the company. These concerns stem from another recent report from Northeastern University, which found that more than half of C-Suite executives were concerned about their workforce’s ability to be creative and innovative in a predominantly remote work environment.
As the worse effects of the omicron option begin to wane, companies will start making noise again about the return to office of people who have worked from home on their computers for the past two years. However, due to the incredibly busy job market, these employees have more leverage than usual to get what they want. How this will happen will affect how the work will be carried out over the years.
One problem is that some employers ’concerns about remote work may be unfounded.
“Consensus seems to prevail, at least when you ask managers,‘ oh, if you’re all away, it must be bad, ’and so you have to get people back to the office,” Christoph said. Riddle, an associate professor at Northeastern University who has spent nearly ten years studying teamwork and processes. “We can directly compare the performance of teams that work remotely with teams that work face to face, and overall we find no difference in team performance.”
Undoubtedly and the reason for much of this concern is that our work networks are shrinking. Data from Microsoft and the employee engagement platform Time is Ltd. found that workers communicate with fewer people at work outside of their immediate teams. While this type of interagency conversation is not a silver bullet for innovation, it can help bridge the gap and encourage new solutions. But remote work is not the main reason that prevents these interactions: the problem is that they do not have enough time. In other words, we talk to fewer people not because we work from home, but because we work too much.
“The more immediate reason people use time and available hours per day is workload, not remoteness,” said Denise Rousseau, professor of organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon University, Recode.
“I think people tend to attribute one problem to another just because they come together, saying, ‘We work from home, so we don’t innovate,'” Rousseau said. “Our to-do lists are long and the number of employees is shrinking. This is another very good reason not to innovate. “
When people quit their jobs or left the workforce, during the so-called Great Resignation or the Great Reshuffle, those left behind had to lift their slack. Two-thirds of workers said their workload “increased significantly” after they started working remotely (read: since the pandemic). More than half of those who remained at work said they took more responsibility when their colleagues left, and 30 percent struggled to get the job done, according to a survey conducted last summer by the Management Society. human resources (SHRM). According to Time is Ltd, people continue to work, send and read more emails and have less time to focus.
“Even before the Great Resignation, when someone left the department, often key tasks were shared among others in the department until they found a replacement,” said Recode SHRM Knowledge Adviser John Duni. “The challenge [now] Is there a higher percentage of people resigning, so more work needs to be distributed, and just hiring people takes longer. ”
This shortcoming can be seen in our communication with wider networks of people at work.
“There is no time for chatter, no time for such interaction, which would happen naturally,” Duni said.
As if the increase in work activity was not enough, pandemic-related obstacles such as lack of childcare and smaller social support systems have forced many people to work out of pay.
“They have more work to do than their job, and they have the added role of health experts,” said Dana Sampter, an associate professor of organization and management theory at Pepperdine University, referring to the many new hats the pandemic has forced people to wear. . The situation is especially difficult for women, who are more likely to take on a large share of childcare and work at home. “They sacrificed to allow the working relationship to break down or even end because they have limited time, energy and attention.”
People everywhere are burned out by the pandemic and are doing their best to survive. As Brandi Aries, Professor of Organizational Theory, Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon, said: “When we are threatened and everyone is still filled with fear, people will retreat and become very tribal and they are collapsing. That’s what we see. ”
According to a Slack poll, that seems to give employees some consolation, so that’s what executives worry about: remote work. While there is scope to improve remote work in terms of collaboration, creativity and innovation, a more pressing challenge is to ease our workload.
This means either hiring more people or reducing the amount of work for existing employees. In order to give people the opportunity to talk to those who are outside, with whom it is absolutely necessary to talk, it would be necessary to separate the critical from those who have good qualities.
If we have a little more time and space, we can focus on how to encourage collaboration, creativity and innovation in a remote setting. If executives want to improve the quality of work, they may want to look at the amount of work they expect. If they want to improve remote work, there are better places to start than office.