Employees Fight Return to Work Mandates
I don’t want to quit, but Friday’s email from our CEO may force the issue. He announced that starting February 10th, all employees must return full-time to the office.
His edict makes no sense. Every internet article I read states employees are more productive and loyal when allowed to work remotely at least part of the week. Every employee I know wants to work from home. We grip to each other when we endure our mandatory three days each week in the office. By taking away the two days we work in our home offices, he forces us to look for new jobs.
I see no reason he’s made this decision. I’m more productive at home, where I can focus without distractions. My morale is higher because I have a better work/life balance. I searched last weekend for an employer that offers interesting work and reasonable compensation for full-time remote work. As soon as I find one, I’m gone.
In the meantime, what can I and other employees due to fight this return to the Dark Ages?
Employees fight return to work mandates
Employees across the nation have challenged employer directives to return to work, https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-bosses-order-workers-back-to-the-office-as-job-market-shifts-11672689665?mod=management_lead_pos3. When the New York Times told employees to return to the office three days a week after Labor Day, 1300 signed a pledge to continue to work remotely. They did so, at least for the first week.
A group of Apple employees formed “Apple Together” and petitioned their CEO for location-flexible work. They suggested managers work with their teams to which type of work arrangements work best for each team member and Apple. They claimed they’d done “exceptional work” during the pandemic. They stated that many employees had “compelling reasons” for remote work, including disabilities, health concerns, family care, and morale. They recommended Apple survey its employees, and additionally ask departing employees if they resigned to seek remote work. https://www.hcamag.com/us/specialization/employee-engagement/apple-workers-petition-against-companys-return-to-office-plan/418249.
It’s a tug of war
Return to work policies have galvanized a tug of war between employer and employee desires. Microsoft research reports that fifty percent of employers plan to require employees to return to in-person work full time in 2023. This same research reports that 52% of employees are considering changing jobs to seek full-time remote or hybrid work. https://www.forbes.com/sites/heidilynnekurter/2022/09/30/3-things-to-consider-when-trying-to-bring-your-employees-back-in-office/?sh=3577c3d33bcd. A survey of one thousand engineering, IT and technological employees reports that forty-five percent prioritized flexible or remote work when seeking jobs, second only to increased pay and benefits. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/11/03/tech-companies-forcing-a-return-to-the-office-are-ignoring-the-data/?sh=e4c5d7459ee9
Remote work may be past its prime
You and other employees may wind up losing the fight. Recession threats have undermined employees’ leverage over employers, and remote work opportunities appear to be on a downward trend. LinkedIn’s December 2022 Workforce Report, that analyzes over sixty million paid job postings on LinkedIn since January 2021, reveals a national trend away from remote work. In March 2022, the highest number of job postings were for remote jobs. The number of remote job postings then abruptly declined. Less than fourteen percent of November 2022 invited remote applicants. https://economicgraph.linkedin.com/resources/linkedin-workforce-report-december-2022.
According to a September 26, 2022, Resume Builder report, ninety percent of employers plan to require employees return to the office at least part of the week in 2023. Paycom Software ordered their technology team to return full-time to the office in January 2023. LifePro Financial Services Inc. tells applicants their jobs are one hundred percent in-office. https://www.hrdive.com/news/report-9-in-10-companies-will-require-return-to-office-by-2023/633055/.
Here’s my suggestion—take a cue from the Apple employees. Make your case and negotiate. Good luck.
(c) Lynne Curry 2023
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2 thoughts on “Employees Fight Return to Work Mandates”
I have to question all these articles that claim everyone is so much more productive at home while at the same time there’s a ton of articles out there on how to keep Teams from snitching on you when you aren’t actively on your PC, as just one example. I’m sure some people are more productive, and equally sure some people aren’t. Additionally, productivity isn’t the only thing that employers are concerned with. My own employer is doing away with its partial work-from-home policy because employees collaborate better in the office and training is more effective in person. The only people who really have a right to complain are people who were hired after a work-from-home policy was in place and may feel they were hired under false pretenses. Employees that were hired prior to the pandemic need to recognize that it was inevitable that eventually most employers would want them to come back into the office.
It sounds like hybrid work is a possibility and increasingly remote work may not be. Also, a umber of large employers of workers who can work remotely, even if only part of the time, have begun large layoffs. It looks like bargaining power over work conditions is diminishing, thought it also sounds like employers cold do well to pay attention to the feedback that workplace flexibility is second in importance to attraction and retention of employees to benefits.