Employees do not want to go back to the office environment. In other words, they want the right to choose in this matter. Flexibility is a vital issue for employees. But managers do not agree.
About 50% of leaders say their company already requires or is planning to require employees to return to in-person work full-time in the next year, according to new research from Microsoft, which surveyed 31,102 workers around the world between January and February.
This number stands in sharp contrast, however, to what employees really want: flexibility. In the same report, 52% of workers said that they are thinking of switching to a full-time remote or hybrid job in 2022.
According to experts, the companies who push for a full return-to-office could see serious ramifications if they don’t offer employees the kind of flexibility and environment they’re asking for.
A statistic on this issue was also created at the end of 2021. Future Forum’s survey found that 42% of executives are working from the office 3-4 days a week compared to 30% of non-executives. What’s more, 44% of executives working remotely said that they would prefer to work from the office every day, while just 17% of employees said the same.
Managers are struggling to balance these competing desires: More than half of managers believe leadership is out of touch with employees, but 74% say they don’t have the influence or resources to enact change for their employees, according to Microsoft’s report.
An article published on HBR has the following recommendations:
First, identify which employees fall into each of the categories. You can start by using your eyes, ears, and intuition. Some people will voice their disfavor, others their support. Some might say they just aren’t sure, or won’t say anything at all.
Second, talk to active and passive resistors to identify the nature of their objections. No problem solving can take place without a solid understanding of core interests. Remember that resistance is often rooted in feelings of “not being heard.” So, listen.
Third, expose those who fall into the neutral category to the passive and active support categories. Neutral means having no opinions about or mixed views on the change.
Fourth, emphasize the benefits of the change to mobilize passive supporters. Focus on the difference between “zero sum,” where one party wins and the other loses, and “positive sum,” where everyone benefits. Finally, give active supporters a platform so they can help you reinforce the benefits of and legitimize the change.