Sunday 8 August 2021

Avoiding Returnaggedon

How a company has treated its staff over the last 18 months, and how they treat them over the next few months as traditional workplaces open up, will have a huge impact on their future. Forcing teams back into the office is likely to result in Returnaggedon, where they come back just long enough to hand in their notice.

Now that most legal restrictions in the UK around COVID-19 have been lifted, thoughts are inevitably turning to what happens next in terms of remote work. Many of us are drifting back in for the odd day here and there for meetings, while some CEOs seem determined to revert back to how things were before. Apparently working from home doesn't work for those who want to hustle, and if you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come to the office. Although most of the time, the impending switch back to the old normal was immediately pushed back as the delta variant proved to be no respecter of desires or plans - a couple of days ago Amazon were the latest to push back from a September 2021 to January 2022.

Expecting everything to go back to how it was because that's how you liked it seems rather short sighted to me. While many reasons may be given for why everyone needs to be in the same physical location to get their work done, a lot of this will come down to trust, or lack thereof. The pandemic forced many managers to trust that their people were working even when they couldn't stand over them and, while they paid lip service to how well it was all going, that trust really wasn't there. Hence some can't wait to get everyone back in the office where their every move can be watched. Trust begets trust, however, and many employees report not trusting their leadership to manage the return to work safely - last September a survey found only 14% trusted their CEOs and senior leaders to make the correct call, which is pretty shocking. 

It's not just about safety though. People have adjusted to the benefits of part or full time remote working and are reluctant to put the genie back in the bottle.  No commute and saving money are the main reasons that most people want to stay remote, and they won't give that up easily, especially if they can avoid it by simply changing jobs. And people are changing jobs. A lot. So much that it's being called the Great Resignation. A Microsoft survey of 30,000 workers around the world found that 41% of them were considering quitting or changing profession. Imagine losing 41% of your workforce - it's hard to see that as anything other than catastrophic, given how long it takes to fully onboard new employees. While most executives say they don't want things to go back to how they are, around 70% of them want people in the office 3+ days a week, so it's clear that many want it to look an awful lot like it did before, with a few bones thrown to pretend they embrace remote work.

In Salesforce world, the competition for talent has always been intense, and somehow gets hotter every year. Companies need to offer people what they are looking for, or they will miss out to those that do. A survey of 1,000 US office workers in May said 39% would consider quitting if their employer didn't show flex. If you add in to that how easily people can walk into another Salesforce job, it's clear that if employees want to continue with this way of working, an accommodation must be found.  If plans aren't in place to offer remote/hybrid working going forward, it's going to be a bumpy ride!

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