August 2022 Volume 4
OPERATIONS & MANAGEMENT
Is it Time to Rethink Where We Work? By Mark Ernst
It seems like a long time ago, but in January of 2020 we still did our jobs at work, the employers’ office or shop location. But then the world changed, and we shut down. Employers scrambled to stay in business and keep work going even if employees couldn’t
come into the office. ITmanagers scrambled to set up home offices and within a few weeks employees began working remotely. Now fast forward to 2022. The pandemic has eased, consumer demand is up, and employers want to return to “normal.”
But employees have other thoughts. Many employees liked the freedom of not coming to the office every day. They saved time not commuting to an office, money on child and parent care, and they were able to fit errands into a busy day making up the time at their convenience. Couple with that a shortage of employees, and employers find themselves unable to dictate terms to employees. By the first quarter of 2022 we were clearly in an “employee-market” in which workers could dictate terms and employers were forced to accept them. Pay increased and employees quit seeking greener pastures. The question for employer is not just whether to have office employees return to the office full-time, but also what other consideration works best for the business and the employees. Recruiting and retaining the best employees is a serious challenge and dictating terms that are not appreciated by the employee can mean you have to find new workers in the midst of a worker shortage. When we examine the data several facts should not be ignored. First, employee productivity increased by working remotely. This can be attributed to more time to work when you eliminate commuting time and non-work activities in the office. Second, survey data supports a flexible work force. Consider data from a recent Gartner survey. Their data frommore than 4,000 employees was reported in a June 2021 article entitled, Make the Future of Work a Win-Win for People and Organizations. Here is what they found: • 39 percent of employees are likely to leave if you insist on a “hard return” — a wholesale return to a fully on site experience. • 55 percent of employees say their ability to work flexibly will impact whether or not they stay with their employer.
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