In the absence of a government mandate dictating who comes to work, will going back to the office be a matter of choice for employees, or a matter of policy for employers to dictate?
With the Singapore government now allowing up to 75% of workers to be back in the workplace at any one point– working from home will no longer be considered the default mode of working.
The past year has seen many changes in employer-employee dynamics. Employers have been forced to evolve their management styles, breaking the shackles of a ‘presentee’ workplace culture. Employees have grown more comfortable in this new flexible norm, where the office is no longer the primary place for work. In the absence of a government mandate dictating who comes to work, and now that COVID-transmission risk is at a minimum, will going back to the office be a matter of choice for employees, or a matter of policy for employers to dictate?
Think about “Us”
The conversations I have personally heard in the last few days of this change that Singapore is putting into effect, is all about “I” (i.e. I tend to work better at home; I have no meetings, so I want to stay remote; I want to come back to office), but there is a component we all must think about: “Us”–the team, the camaraderie, and our collective productivity. We can encourage our colleagues to think about the impact of coming to work that benefits the team. Us above me.
As a change management consultant, I feel the power of “us” has always led transformation, and it’s time we invoke the same sentiment and create a considerate, viable and inclusive work environment that takes this return-to-work decision together.
To be or not to be (flexible)?
But going back to my earlier question – do companies even have a real option? Has the great ‘work from home experiment’ transformed the decades of office culture too deeply for staff to want to return? Would employees obediently follow a no-choice policy (whether it mandates 100% work from office or 100% remote work) or would this lead to an exodus of talent in search for competitors who offer greater flexibility? Alternatively, if companies gave workers the complete freedom to choose, would they be able to right-size their real estate and predict what proportion of workers would want to stay home vs work from the office, owing to various factors, from their commute times, residential space per capita, living conditions etc?
Regardless of how flexible your company decides to be moving forward, pull is better than push. The onus is on the employer to demonstrate the benefits of the office in building company culture and maximising ‘organic’ or ‘bump’ collaboration that comes from people exchanging information and developing social and personal bonds with each other. While remote working can increase levels of self-reported productivity, it can also lead to people feeling disengaged with the rest of their team and the company, as we’ve seen from work with our own clients.
Ultimately, we took a year to manage the change and help people to build a productive work at home mindset; now we need to patiently build the future return (whatever that looks like) – together.
Source : https://www.knightfrank.com