Companies that enforce a ‘Return to the Office’ will get crushed by those who don’t. Discuss!
Here’s why I think this is going to be the case:
The arguments for Return to the Office (RTO) are unsupported by any science that I can find.
The justification given for RTO is to improve productivity, communication and collaboration, to generate innovation and to ‘maintain company culture’. There’s no data to support this, no studies to back up these justifications. They are assertions, statements of opinion, not arguments. The response to challenge to these assertions is usually incantations of ‘serendipity’ and ‘water-cooler moments’ and other belief mantras. Where’s the data?
2) There are immediate benefits to moving to more flexible (or hybrid) working.
Employees want and value autonomy, so it improves recruitment retention, employee experience and their work/life balance. Happier employees are more productive. You will get more from your workforce.
You can reduce costs by cutting office space. You also reduce your carbon footprint by cutting energy costs and commuting journeys.
3) ‘Unthethering’ from the office gives you better options
You have access to a much wider talent pool than the geographical area around your office, which means you can recruit the people you need, with the skills you need, when you need them.
It is also the enabler for your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programme. I’d argue that you’re not really serious about DEI unless you have implemented flexible working.
4) The real long-term competitive benefits are from changing the HOW people work, not the WHERE they work.
Untethering from the office is the first step to implementing progressive working practices that unlock step-changes in performance. Moving to asynchronous working, self-managing teams, human-centric working increases productivity, creativity, agility, responsiveness and resilience. It can significantly reduce bureaucracy, delivering large cost savings and removing organisational drag.
So that’s my ‘hot take’. In the past week I’ve seen statements that two of the recent bank collapses were due to hybrid working – SV Bank for having too much hybrid working and Credit Suisse for not having enough! Clearly, it’s not a settled debate.
Now it’s over to you guys – discuss!