Back-to-office plans fall flat amid arbitrary rules, lack of communication

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Experts say after the major shift in work culture prompted by the pandemic, employers on the whole aren't approaching hybrid work in a way that makes sense for their workers or their businesses.

The big question hanging in the air post-pandemic is whether working from home is a right or a privilege, said Linda Duxbury, a chancellor's professor of management at Carleton University's Sprott School of Business. Many employees have come to believe that it's a right, but she disagrees.

"The research that's coming out right now says what's really important to trust, to collaboration, is face to face," said Duxbury. "Not all the time, but sometimes." Nola Simon, a consultant who calls herself a hybrid/remote futurist, thinks the tide started to turn at the beginning of last year, when big, influential companies started enacting return-to-office policies.

But Simon says there seems to be a major disconnect between what workers want and what their employers are pushing for. When asked why people need to come to the office, employers use vague terms such as innovation and collaboration, and it doesn't ring true with workers. Among those who were consulted, job satisfaction was high, and they were less likely to seek a new role elsewhere.

She advises employers to begin by looking at the job itself, not the person, when trying to determine whether it should be done remotely or on a hybrid basis.

 

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