I having a client who runs a business that was not considered “essential” and therefore had to close its doors during the height of the pandemic and send its employees home to work. This went on for a few months. When things started to wind down last summer, he called everyone into the office. Without exceptions.
“Working from home is not an option in my business,” he told me. “I don’t buy it. I want my people here. “
Are you out of touch? Maybe. But this point of view is shared by more than a few clients of mine. They mostly fit a similar demographic: older, established in their own way, long in business, family businesses. It is obvious that most companies will need to offer work-from-home options in the future. But what is more obvious, at least to me, is that so far, this has been a failed experiment. And sooner or later, many small businesses will start to think like my customer.
If you don’t believe me, consider the results of a recent and large study from Microsoft.
Nearly two-thirds of the more than 31,000 full-time or self-employed workers in 31 markets said they were “craving” (yes, craving) more in-person time with their teams, according to the study, and 37% of the global workforce complained. that their companies “asked too much” of them when they were out of the office.
About 54% of these people feel overworked and 39% are simply exhausted. Thanks to these new work-from-home arrangements, meetings are significantly longer, “chats” are up 45%, and 41 million more emails were sent in a single month (February 2021) compared to the same month. last year (remember when email was supposed to be “dead”?).
While bosses and older workers appear to be taking it easy (61% of them say they are “thriving” right now, a number that is 23 percentage points higher than those without decision-making authority), Younger generations – specifically Gen-Zers (ages 18-25) – are struggling to balance work with life and are simply more exhausted than their counterparts. They reported difficulties feeling engaged or enthusiastic about work, speaking during meetings, and bringing new ideas to the table.
Worse still is the murder of innovation. Microsoft reports that companies have become more isolated than they were before the pandemic. And while interactions with our close networks have been more frequent than before, the fact is that even these close team interactions have started to decline over time. “When you lose connections, you stop innovating,” said Dr. Nancy Baym, Microsoft’s senior principal investigator. “It’s more difficult for new ideas to come in and groupthink becomes a serious possibility.”
All this is taking its toll on workers and large companies are beginning to realize it. Recently Citigroup Announced a series of “Zoom Free” Fridays to encourage workers to stay away from their screens and LinkedIn he said he was giving your employees a paid week off to deal with the stress they have been enduring while working from home. It’s also why Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said a lecture Recently that working from home is an “aberration that we are going to correct as soon as possible.”
So do you see where my client is coming from? You want your people to go back to the office, where you can see them, talk to them, brainstorm with them, connect with them. It’s old school. And you are probably not wrong about this.
Unfortunately, the work-from-home trend is too strong to resist. That’s because there is this illusion of more independence, flexibility, and control over life, which is why probably 70% of workers who participated in the Microsoft survey, despite all their concerns, still want some kind of job options. flexible in the future.
There are also powerful interests at work to keep us at home. Big tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple love these deals because they further tie their customers to their cloud-based collaboration subscription models. Giant media providers see more people at home clicking on their content. Large retail companies are enjoying the rise in online sales driven by bored and unsupervised workers. And corporate employers are sniffing out big savings in real estate costs, as well as the ability to hire better (and cheaper) talent regardless of geographic limitations.
And yet, study after study shows that people who work from home are more stressed and less happy. The model has been shown to create more disruptions, less productivity, and less innovation. However, small businesses will have to figure out how to balance the perceived benefit (and demand) of remote work options with their costs. I think, based on the failure to work from home so far, most will be like my “old school” client. They will want their employees to be in the office most of the time.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism