What a difference a year makes, or does it?

Hello Everybody,

April 2021…

I did a round-up of the PR in relation to return to office/hybrid/remote first plans and I talked about the challenges which were coming to the forefront for many organisations – the real challenges that were just not being spoken about, and organisations were left wondering, ‘Is it just me?’.

April 2022…

Well, I’m happy to announce, it wasn’t just you, it wasn’t just them, it was everybody!

I’m glad to see that there has been less PR around “where” people are working, of course ignoring Jacob Rees-Mogg (as we all should) and instead there has been an increasing amount of PR around the challenges that are being experienced by organisations, questions that remain and lots of data around the impact of things like hybrid working and 4 day working weeks.

I’m not so glad to see that the challenges being discussed are still very much click-bait reads and not getting to the heart of the fact that there are real people who are confused, disengaged, overwhelmed, overworked, feeling unsupported, under communicated to and feel left in limbo.

It’s time to lift the lid, here are some true challenges being shared with me.

Organisations / HR / FM are saying…

  • We have had job adverts live for 3 months and cannot recruit for the roles we need.
  • Employees are resigning for wage increases of up to 30%.
  • Communication between departments is a real issue; we have become used to working in siloes.
  • It feels like our people just work and then log-off, we’re lacking in fun and connection.
  • People are working way too much on virtual calls and then working through their to-do lists into the evening and even on Sunday evenings. We can see people becoming stressed, burn-out and lacking in energy.
  • Because of the ability to work from home, people have not been reporting sickness. We don’t want people to work when they’re ill just because they are at home, especially when it’s mental health, we need the data to ensure we can support them.
  • My older/experienced colleagues are happy to work from home, but I need them in the office to train and mentor the younger/less experienced colleagues. It’s the younger and less experienced that want to be in the office.
  • We used to run first aid and fire marshal training across our buildings, now I have no idea what ratio of people we need to train because I never know who will be there.
  • The office is like a ghost town. People are choosing to sit on near empty floors for peace and quiet. We thought people wanted to come back to the office to speak and socialise with colleagues.
  • The tasks people are doing they can do from anywhere, but senior leadership wants people back in the office, but can’t give valid reasons as to why.
  • Our lease is coming up for renewal, I just don’t know how much space we need anymore and how that may change in the future.
  • We keep asking people what they want, firstly everybody has survey fatigue, but secondly, why are we asking people when we just ignore what they’re saying anyway?
  • We have always used our office to underpin our culture of community and togetherness. How do we do this in a remote world?

Employees are saying:

  • The return to the office has been hyped up in an attempt to get people excited, but when we returned it was quite underwhelming and many people are asking, ‘what’s the point?’.
  • My diary is back-to-back with virtual calls, if I go to the office, I’ll just be sat with headphones on all day.
  • I used to sit next to a colleague who I built a great friendship with. We’d take turns making each other coffee and chat throughout the day, it felt nice. Now we don’t have our own desks so sitting next to each other isn’t always possible. When I sit next to somebody new, I can’t get to know them because they’re sitting with their headphones on virtual meetings all day and distracting me in the process.
  • Our company stance tells managers to choose how and where their team works but it’s like they have forgotten that teams from different departments need to collaborate. People I want to see are nowhere to be seen and when I try and arrange a meeting with them, they’re fully booked for up to 2 weeks. I just can’t get stuff done like I used to.
  • I moved house during the pandemic, and my commute would be 1-hour each way. I can stay at home and work virtually, why would I go to the office and lose 2 hours a day and pay for fuel?
  • My job is reliant on being in the office. I’m sick of hearing about how people have all this flexibility.
  • I like being around people, I miss people, I feel disconnected.

Questions…

  • Are any of these challenges sounding familiar?
  • Do you have any tips to share with the world?
  • What other challenges are you coming across that we can support each other with?

Here is a theme of headlines from recent times…

Johnson backs Rees-Mogg over ‘Dickensian’ Whitehall return-to-office push (msn.com)

65% of UK employees would take a pay cut for a four-day work week (bmmagazine.co.uk)

Growing number of firms link increased productivity to home and flexible working – Workplace Insight

HR firm experiences 75% increase in businesses requesting support to help implement new ways of working – Business Insider

Burns from ironing fall as staff ditch suits and office clothes (msn.com)

Report: 85% of employees want a hybrid work model | VentureBeat

Is hybrid working making burnout worse? | theHRD (thehrdirector.com)

Employers see hybrid working productivity gains (personneltoday.com)

Draft remote working law ‘heavily stacked’ in favour of employer refusals (irishtimes.com)

Job seekers seeing new kinds of benefits as remote work changes workplace – ABC7 Chicago

Remote Work Impacts Real Estate Forever – The Tech Report

Has remote working allowed you have a better work-life balance? (irishtimes.com)

Twitter, Reddit and 8 other companies offering permanent remote or hybrid work—and hiring right now (msn.com)

Be a good human,

SFJ.

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