Getting the job done

The Editorial Board Tue, 06 Jul 2021 04:00:00 GMT

Now that indoor and outdoor capacity restrictions have lifted, the way is clear for companies to call back their workforces to the office full time. For some, this is a necessary move that will benefit employers and employees alike.

But for many companies, it may be smart to weigh alternatives -- hybrid models of work-from-home and in-office work, for example. Some factors to consider: economic savings for employers that are tied with telework; employee productivity; and quality of life.

Employees and employers should be casting a critical eye on the matter. Did employees who worked from home give a full day's work to their employer? Did companies take advantage of workers who ignored the clock? Can companies benefit from giving their employees flexibility moving forward? Is there a certain energy that comes from gathering in a central location?

Honest answers are needed to yield the best decisions.

Plenty of bosses fretted that workers were distracted and less productive when working from home. And there's some evidence that the worries were justified. A study conducted by the business technology news site ZDNet showed that more than half of employees working from home had reported napping during work time, had shopped online, or had worked a side hustle. Around half said they had been on a date or had consumed alcoholic beverages between 9 and 5.

On the other end of the spectrum, many corporations saw significant jumps in productivity. But who paid that price? For many employees, the boundary between home and work life blurred. They worked longer hours. They worried about job security and prospective promotion so they ignored the clock. In sum, there was uncompensated work. And while that may be a short-term gain for the employer, the long-term cost can be burnout in the ranks.

Employers and employees alike should weigh not only productivity but also organizational innovation, engagement, commitment, and personal well-being.

The decision about how to work and where to work is one that boils down to individual work places. There's no one right way to do it. What is fine for one place may not be good for another. In the best of worlds, employees and employers will see themselves as a unified team with a unified goal: to get the job done and to treat everyone fairly in the process.

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