The hybrid workplace introduces a number of new challenges for managers. Identifying and understanding unconscious biases in the workplace is one of them. Unconscious biases are beliefs about individuals or a group that would be considered to be unfair, such as beliefs about the effectiveness of remote workers vs. in-office workers.
Not Offering Hybrid Work? Say Good-Bye to your Staff
In early 2022, venerable financial firm Goldman Sachs announced a return to what it viewed as business as usual, in a decision not offering hybrid work: all staff must work from the office full time, five days a week. In the view of CEO David Solomon, working virtually is an aberration to be corrected as quickly as possible:
“I do think for a business like ours which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal.” – David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs
This statement bucks the trend of other large companies such as Twitter and Citigroup that plan to implement a permanent hybrid work policy. Indeed, recent survey data shows that 90% of firms overall intend to do so (Gartner) and over 80% of employees want the same (Slack Future Forum).
Viewed in this light, Goldman Sachs and companies like it may find themselves not only swimming upstream, but at risk of losing talented workers to other companies that offer the flexibility and work-life balance staff have come to expect.
Ditching Virtual Work is a Business Risk
The impulse to return to the office full-time comes primarily from executives. According to research from the Slack Future Forum, 44% of managers and above prefer to work in the office, mostly because the hybrid working model is still new and intimidating – making it feel safer to return to a more familiar setup. Add in the outmoded view that employees only work well and are productive when being monitored with direct line-of-sight, and you have a recipe for a bad business decision.
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However, compared to data on employee opinions in a recent FlexJobs survey, it’s all too apparent that reverting to a fully on-site work model presents a massive business risk:
- 29% are currently searching for a new job that allows remote work
- 17% would quit if they didn’t have a remote option
- 44% know at least one person who has quit or is planning to quit over in-person work requirements
The fact is that any mandatory return to in-person work opens businesses up to a brain drain, where talented employees leave to seek more flexible work elsewhere. Goldman Sachs, for all its CEO’s bravado, may find itself backtracking on the commitment to in-person work sooner than they think.
If We Fail to Adapt, We Fail to Move Forward
Far from an aberration, hybrid work is here to stay. With so many employees in the workforce who value it and so many companies willing to provide it, those who are not offering hybrid work and insist on living in a bygone era of fixed desks with engraved nameplates simply won’t be able to compete. Companies that embrace this truth and provide the training, knowledge and technology staff need to thrive remotely will be poised to attract and retain talent for long-term success.
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Research shows that employee burnout is on the rise after such a lengthy period of working from home. People have been trying to balance personal lives and professional responsibilities for many months now while dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, and it has taken a toll on their physical and mental well-being. Burnt out employees lack energy, are more negative about their jobs, and aren’t as productive at work.
Gradually, more and more remote workers are heading back into the office. Over three in five Canadians say that they want to return to their physical workplace or office, according to a recent KPMG survey. But there are still many people who prefer to work from home at least a few days per week. While the evolving hybrid cultures will differ from place to place, company leaders share a common concern – how to maintain high productivity levels from all their team members, regardless of their working location. They wonder if employees will continue to collaborate and be as effective in a new hybrid environment when they are no longer working together in one place.