,As a senior public relations agency executive told me last week: “You’re sitting in your home office because of the pandemic and somebody offers you thousands of dollars more to continue sitting in your home office to take Zoom calls and do your work. It’s a no-brainer.”
From The Great Reset to The Great Resignation: What a difference a year has made in the lives of remote workers. Decisions made today — adopting the hybrid work model; allowing employees to decide how, where and when they will work; celebrating successes, anniversaries and other events important in our work lives via WebEx rather being together — have implications for the future.
McKinsey has reported that as many as 30 percent of employees they've surveyed are likely to switch jobs if they return to fully on-site work post-pandemic. Meanwhile, employees engaged in the manufacture of products or in essential roles who've worked long hours and lots of overtime to deliver for their companies, have grown resentful as they've watched their employers adopt new policies favoring their remote office counterparts.
Almost half of all workers are reporting burnout tied to their anxiety and uncertainty about the future, according to McKinsey. Many of us with Zoom fatigue long for a simple phone call or a quiet breakfast meeting. The new reality is that employees joining an organization today may go months before they meet their manager up close and personal. Many have interviewed and been hired for a position, worked with teams and had performance reviews without ever meeting their colleagues or clients.
I worry about the state of corporate and agency cultures — the great differentiator — a year beyond COVID-19. David Mamet once described corporate culture as “the way we do things around here.” Increasingly, the way we do things is being re-interpretted through the remote employee forced to balance agency and client demands with the realities of work and life at home.
In their private moments, CEOs worry that remote workers have grown complacent and lost the edge that makes their corporate cultures distinctive. JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has joined a chorus of leaders who have grown weary of Zoom meetings. WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani caught flak when he told The Wall Street Journal: “Those who are uberly engaged with the company want to go to the office two-thirds of the time, at least." He said the least engaged are "very comfortable working from home" — a sentiment echoed privately by other leaders.
As the War for Talent is redefined in our pandemic-shaped world, now comes the new reality of recruiters using the lure of WFH to raid a competitor. With more than a third of US employees saying they would like to work from home full-time, it's a phenomenon that will surely grow, consequences TBD.