Carrot and stick: Would great tech or rewards entice you back to the office?
It’s almost redundant to point out once again how the past few years have been dense with discussion about how, where and when we work. The conversation has moved in peaks and troughs, from the legal and ethical considerations of employers to the responsibilities and requirements of workers.
We’ve talked about quiet quitting and bare-minimum Monday, about loud laborers and workplace dynamics and every other element of the new paradigm that the remote revolution has ushered in.
The thing is, every one of those topics has been a variation on a simpler, broader question: where do we go from here? There was a time when it seemed unthinkable, but there is a growing contingent who believe that where we are going is BACK to the office.
According to KPMG’s 2023 CEO Outlook, a growing number of business leaders (62%) believe that corporate roles that were traditionally office-based in the past, will be so again. This future is significantly higher than the 34% who held that opinion in 2022. In addition, the 45% who were committed to hybrid roles for all has shrunk to 34%.
As always, there are myriad reasons for this reversal. Taking a birds-eye view, there’s the simple fact that all those downtown offices out there need to be occupied.
Outside of tech, there are countless jobs in construction, transport, hospitality and retail that are dependent on the movement of people. Zooming in, there is the argument that hybrid teams simply aren’t as productive.
This is a controversial point, naturally. While work-life balance and employee satisfaction are higher for remote and hybrid workers, a paper by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research suggests that fully remote work accounts for a 10 to 20% drop in productivity.
The genie is never going back in the bottle though; business leaders cannot simply say “you need to get back to the office because you’re not working hard enough”. Instead, a new proposed approach is to reward employees who commit to the office.
According to KPMG’s report, 90% of CEOs were willing to provide office-based employees with favorable assignments, raises, or promotions. In addition, the design and layout of offices is evolving again. Comfortable seating and workspaces combined with tempting technology – interactive whiteboards, state-of-the-art computers and AV equipment, the list goes on.
The intended perception is that the office becomes a destination for collaboration, rather than what Dropbox’s Chief People Officer Melanie Rosenwasser called a “company center of gravity”.
It’s a far cry from the CEOs who tell their employees: be at your desk or find somewhere else to work; this approach actually worked for a certain portion of workers, but at the end of the day, industries have not been able to convince workers that being back in the office is best for everyone.
If (and it’s a big if) a reward system for boosting employee engagement was to take off, it wouldn’t be long before business leaders were counting the cost once again. Free lunches cost money, as do promotions and pay raises and all that tech, so by obliquely clamping down on remote work, would those CEOs be robbing Peter to pay Paul?
On X/Twitter, Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom – one of the authors of the report cited above – predicts that in the years to come, the figures will even out: work-from-home will amount to 50% of jobs, 40% will be in-office and just 10% will be fully remote.
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Start your job search today via the nextpit Job Board. This article was written by Doug Whelan.