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Never ever go back to the office.
Okay, we will be there from time to time.
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If you haven’t read the last post, I strongly suggest you go ahead and read it first. If you are like most people and do not like to click on links when reading, here is the TL;DR (Too long, did not read) version.
Laszlo Bock, who used to head Google's People Ops, gave his five cents about remote work, and Bloomberg turned it into clickbait by saying that "Google's former HR chief says hybrid work will not last." He was a bit more nuanced in the article, and if I am informed correctly, he's also the ex-HR chief, but I guess that's not such an appealing headline.
Anyway, last week I made a plea for the office. This week, I am doing what I wish I had done immediately. I am poking at the article for any errors.
Let us start with the first and most obvious one.
Who’s in charge?
/.../ the bosses want people back in. Executives at Google and other large companies are eager for a full return to office life, according to Bock. He imagines a slow, “boil the frog” transition. Here’s how one unnamed executive put it to him recently: “‘We’ll get everyone back into the office eventually. I just don't want to pick that fight now.’”
Sorry to all bosses who want to send their employees back to the office. For many tasks, you will not make the decision. Sure, wait to pick your fight, and you'll see that most people will not fight back. They will leave.
I admit that I did not read all of the 600+ comments the article generated on Reddit, but let us say that most people are not that eager to be pulled back into the office or, as one Redditor put it;
I think this dude may be behind the times.
Tech companies do not have the leverage to do this. There is such a massive shortage of qualified engineers that they will need to offer it to stay competitive.
I do not understand why some people have not grasped the blunt reality yet. If you want to stay competitive and attract in-demand professionals to your company, you need to offer flexibility. And as we have discussed before: If you offer it for some, offer it for all and build with a remote-first mentality.
The only thing that will happen to bosses and companies that think this way, in the long run, is that there will be no one left to manage.
By the way, this also applies to departments at HR. I have heard many HR people say that "they have to be in the office for X and Y."
If your company works remotely, you probably should too, or you'll end up like the scenario described above, without an organization you can manage.
No promotion? Bye-bye.
Secondly, there's the talk of all the missed promotions and all the fun at work you'll miss out on if you choose to work in a hybrid or remote office.
Why the fuck would I want an internal promotion chained to some desk when I can get an even bigger raise jumping ship to one of the many forward-thinking employers that have fully embraced remote?
And that's all I have to say about it. (You can call me Forrest, Forrest Gump).
No, but seriously, as we have mentioned here several times - if you set people aside, you can bet your right thumb that they will eventually look for other opportunities.
We can debate for hours whether Reddit is a valid sample of the general population or not, but he's certainly right. Certainly, some employers will overlook people and give promotions and perks to people in the office, but will those go to the right people? We need to improve our ability to be an inclusive employer in every way, not just in terms of the people we can reach and grab.
Third, people point out that it is an elite problem and that many employees cannot work remotely. That is 100% true. But that's another thing that has nothing to do with discussing those of us who can work remotely.
Even before most knowledge workers had the opportunity to work remotely, there was a disparity between the different occupations, and they always will be. Knowledge workers (is that still the term we use? It seems outdated, but it still seems to exist) are still on the rise as more and more work becomes knowledge work.
That means more and more people can work remotely. Is this really an elite problem? It is a general and widespread phenomenon that needs to be addressed.
And we are not going back to offices. And it's not up to the bosses to decide.