The wheels on the bus go round and round… 

The wheels (employees) on the bus (going back into the workspace) go round and round and round… Put yourself in your bosses’ shoes. While we remain vigilant to stay safe and not spread the virus, not going back into the office is not always an option.  Staff may welcome going back to workspace: others reel from the dread of a return, from a sense of missing out on family time or the daily freedoms, to frustration about being in the same space with colleagues who might not be vaccinated, to getting back on public transit or dealing with a commute.

The current workforce is hovering around 60% of them never having had the opportunity to work from home. Those positions are focused on either working face to face with the public, or their role required in-person attendance for factory or laboratory work, or a food and beverage position in the hospitality field.

Management navigates return anxiety, striving for a balance of safety against not overstepping privacy boundaries. Both getting back to work in a way that feels comfortable and protected must work for all. In the simplest of terms, returns are still in flux as there is no specific end date for when the wheels on the bus will stop turning.

Data reveals that the workplace must prove itself to staff, or they risk losing hybrid workers willing to adjust to shifting work patterns. There is a range of solutions across multiple industries and geographic locations, taking regulatory considerations under advisement, seeking the solution that works best for their business.

Forcing teams back to a desk is not an option.  Not because an employer can’t enforce such a decision, but it’s just not in the best interest of their brand. A return will be required for some, voluntary for others, just like requesting staff be vaccinated. Under federal law, a business can require vaccinations if it impacts the health and safety of the workforce, just as a company can require people to work on site but risk losing talented professionals.

Here’s what we DO know:

  • We are going back into the workplace, but not everyone is happy about it.
  • Employees value in-office work if they can decide when, where to sit and who they can collaborate with.
  • Work-life separation boundaries and mandated time off is expected as part of a wellness package.
  • Workers want private spaces in elaborate offices where teams can spread out but still spark interaction. 
  • It’s normal to have a life outside of work 
  • Today, health and safety will come first
  • We see improved ventilation systems, natural light, access to the outdoors, staggering shifts, flex time 
  • Work from home continues, and hybrid models will be the norm because it’s about flexibility 
  • Business trips will be limited as zoom meetings proved successful and cost effective.
  • Leadership comes from everyone as teams rely more on one another as much as themselves when out of office, 
  • The work environment is more casual as we see our colleagues as humans  
  • We’ve bridged technical and biological generation gaps 
  • Tenure of remote workers has decreased due to less physical present interaction with colleagues
  • Long-term remote work causes feelings of being disconnected 
  • Managers find it easier to manage, engage, and monitor employees when they see them in person
  • The new office is a status symbol representative of company culture 
  • Change leads to improvements, but not without its’ challenges
  • The great workplace resignation did happen but for reasons of burnout, not just resentment

Many businesses continue to contemplate lease cancellations, down-sizing, cultural shifts and altering their global footprint to save money. We see a future where having a desk in an office is more a status symbol, but in reality, we’re going to be spinning the bus wheels for a long time to come.

Posted in Our Thoughts.

Sharon Miller-Trackman