Back to irrelevance

The majority of bosses want to go back to the office.

The majority of employees want to work flexibly.

Which is odd, because it’s the bosses that have mostly found working from home to be productive, whilst the employees have tended to be the ones having difficulties.

(Leesman Index research, attributable to the fact that bosses are more likely to have either a home office or a dedicated space to work in, whilst employees are of working in their living space, or even from their bed).

This is puzzling. What could explain it?

I can’t get past the conclusion that it’s power, status and ego.

Perhaps it’s also a resistance to change. Managing and leading in a flexible work environment is a different challenge, requiring different skills, methods and processes. That seems like a lot of work, it’s so much easier just to snap back to how things were before. After all, that was working OK, wasn’t it? For them, at least?

Maybe they fear that they won’t be able to do what is required of them in the changed environment. That they lack the attributes and sensibilities needed to manage in a flexible environment. Maybe they’re afraid that they won’t be able to adapt, that they will look foolish and weak, that they will fail.

These are understandable, they are part of the human condition, but they are still rooted in power, status and ego.

So, many bosses are just going ahead and insisting employees return to the office. Because that’s where they feel most comfortable, where they can exercise their power most easily, where their status is obvious and reinforced, and it’s where their ego gets stroked on a regular basis.

Kind of makes sense – for them, anyhow.

But I think it’s pretty unwise in a tightening labour market. It’s also unwise to tie yourself to an older, more static business model whilst your competitors embrace and more agile, flexible and lower cost one. 

So this is not about serving the needs of the organisation. This is about serving their own needs for power, status and ego.

I don’t think its going to end well for the organisations.

And consequently, it won’t end well for the bosses either.

As General Eric Shinseki said, 

“If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.”

There’s no power or status in irrelevance and it’s definitely not good for the ego.

So bosses can choose to change, or they can go back to the office and prepare for irrelevance.

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