Louis Carter and David Burkus, two colleagues of mine from Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches, have written about going back to the office. I quote them and their work in this new article for SmartBrief.
Here is an excerpt.
There is always a tension between the wishes of management and what employees are willing to do. The challenge is for those in authority to provide a means for employees to achieve the mission by following the organization’s strategic direction.
One such issue arising and worth of study right now, even before it happens, is the workplace’s future. According to a new survey by the Best Practice Institute (BPI), 83% of CEOs want their employees to come to work back in the office. Only 10% of employees are interested. Of those who responded, safety was the prime concern. “Over 60% of employees responded they wouldn’t be comfortable returning without trusting the company’s confidence in communicating co-worker illness, clear instructions on health and safety policies, and the option to work from home.”
Management wants a physical presence
Louis Carter, CEO of BPI, told me in an interview. “Research shows that any change, especially during a highly volatile time, will most likely cause a great deal of stress. People are already very concerned about their health and catching COVID (and rightly so), and going into work present a huge amount of potential for additional stress. Those who did indicate they would come into work gave us clear expectations of what they needed to make it easier for them to come back to work.”
David Burkus, Ph.D., organizational psychologist and author of Leading from Anywhere: The Essential Guide to Managing Remote Teams, says it is necessary “to recognize that it’s about way more than just where people work from during normal business hours. People had the opportunity to rework when and how they do their work as well. So even those who want to return to the office are unlikely to want to return for the standard, Monday to Friday from 9 to 5. There’s no way around a need for flexibility, so the best thing you can do is recognize that it’s not a binary choice. Most people will end up choosing a little bit of time at the office and a little bit of time at home. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s probably better.”