are we changing the place again, where to put someone? / Hebrew

are we changing the place again, where to put someone? / Hebrew

Something seems to be happening with the uninstall again. In 2020 – 2021, we saw how large Russian and Western companies massively reported on the successful change of format to remote, on the sale of office buildings and changes in lifestyle forever. And in the last six months or even a year, some of them changed their course to the opposite – they began to demand a return to offices and a transition to a hybrid work format with visits to the corporate location at least three times a week.

Vasya Lozhkin. “Let’s take it all back!”

Let’s talk about where the legs of the latest back-to-office trends come from and whether they mean the “death of remoteness.”

Let’s start with a brief overview of the news…

The loudest, perhaps, can be called Elon Musk’s statements that remote employees do not work, but only pretend, so this format is no longer acceptable. Such wording was accompanied by demands for Twitter employees to return to the office. And Musk is not alone in this opinion.

  • In early 2022, Apple tried to bring thousands of employees back to the new office. The step failed, the initiative was canceled, but that was only the first swallow. In 2023, employees still had to remember about offices, even if not for the entire working week.

  • Salesforce called hundreds of employees into the office in December 2022.

  • In May of this year, Amazon management made a statement that employees should go to the office at least three days a week. The company was ready to demand relocation from some, explaining the need to establish ties in the team and promote corporate culture.

  • Dell in May this year also talked about three “office” days. However, this requirement affected only those who live within an hour’s drive from the corporate location. No deadline has been set for the transition – the management plans to rebuild smoothly.

  • Yandex announced the transition to a hybrid work format.

  • IBM did not threaten to bring anyone back to the office, but warned that working remotely could mean the end of career advancement.

It is clear that none of the companies explains in numbers the reasons for such a step. The messages all rely on statements such as “work efficiency” and “building team spirit.” It is interesting that many of these companies even a few years ago, during the peak of the covid restrictions, reported the growth of this very efficiency and attraction specifically for the remote format. What made them change their minds?

There are different opinions about this…

Inflated recruitment and difficulty with the onboarding of newcomers

In the comments to the news from the side of “simple distancers” there are accusations of generation Z. It is clear that there is a lot of subjective here, but the thought itself seems interesting.

Indeed, it is one thing when a person has 20 years of work experience, 10 of which have been working remotely, and clearly knows how to take the initiative so that the issue is resolved in the shortest possible time. Another thing is yesterday’s student, who is ashamed to pull a colleague one more time, and as a result, sits for weeks without access to the work project. A remote novice does not have a single colleague around to learn the working approach. And if the ice is the same, the situation turns out to be a dead end.

Discussing work procedures, one Dell employee told the press that the company continued to hire during the period of general removal, including hiring just such “specialists”. It is clear that there is no need to talk about the efficiency of work there. What’s more, the source lamented, more experienced deleters are forced to work for such characters in order to retain the right to sit in the home office (while the company continues to hire straight out of college).

Both Salesforce and Amazon complained about the new employees. For example, sitting at a distance, they do not blend into the corporate culture or do it not quickly enough. Perhaps active recruitment and the lack of independence of newcomers really played a role.

A reason for voluntary dismissal

Do not forget about the more important market trend. In the West, the IT market is currently in a difficult situation – the so-called adaptation to the post-pandemic economy. Economic uncertainty (high inflation, rising rates, reduced demand for computers) is on the agenda, causing tech companies to cut offices outside their home region and lay off employees en masse. Analysts Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. counted about 80,000 layoffs last year. And in 2023, the cuts continued.

Against the background of such economic changes, the opinion that the noisy return of employees to the office is simply one of the options for “thinning the garden” is increasingly heard. Those who do not agree with the new rules will simply write a statement of their own free will and leave without any mandatory reductions in benefits. A small but saving for companies.

A way to limit the remoter geographically

The situation in the Russian market is somewhat different. We don’t smell like mass layoffs. On the contrary, recent studies show a shortage of qualified specialists. But the mass departure of remote workers from the country created a difficult situation for companies – they had to overcome legal and economic restrictions associated with the work of an employee from another country. In some cases, such maneuvers are clearly prohibited by security politicians, so it can be assumed that the active desire for a hybrid is connected precisely with the desire to control in which country the employee is located.

Our opinion

A few words about what the situation looks like from the perspective of those who went into distancing even before the covid restrictions drove everyone there, remains faithful to this format.

Talk about efficiency is hardly backed by real numbers

No company discloses how it analyzed such abstract parameters as “team spirit” or “effectiveness of interaction.”

In general, many factors are involved in the concept of efficiency. Low work efficiency at home or in the office is often associated with inappropriate conditions. Living in a one-room apartment with two children and a mother-in-law, it is difficult to provide a comfortable workplace. But the same situation can arise in the office, if you are unlucky enough to sit in the accounting office among colleagues who drink tea more often while talking than keeping quiet.

Of course, there are more comfortable offices – locations where the rules regarding silence are strictly followed or where there are separate rooms for negotiations. But there are also comfortable home offices where you can concentrate. As a result, efficiency is always a very private matter. How can we talk about the effectiveness of the entire team? And how to rely on these numbers, even if it was actually measured?

Discussions about which format is better always boil down to specific examples of everyday difficulties – ie. avoid the main topic

As a consequence of the previous point, all disputes about which format works well and which one is bad are devoid of objectivity. In the case of the answer, which is better – removal, office or hybrid – no.

In the comments under any article about leaving for removal or returning to the office, hundreds of private examples of the ability or inability to focus appear. But it really boils down to the organization of a normal workplace. There are a million options – from the corner of the house (this is quite realistic even in a one-room apartment), to renting a desk in the nearest office that allows it. During the existence of the company, the employees of Maxilect tried many options, most of them cost less than the daily commute to the office. But all these were investments in the solution of a private problem, and not in the processes of remoteness. The conversation about processes starts when we change our hiring approaches so that only self-motivated people pass through the inbound filter. But neither the commentators of the articles, nor, by the way, their authors, talk about this.

There will be dissatisfaction when returning to the office in any case

Changing the format of work for everyone several times, companies forget that for employees these are always global changes in life. It will not be easy for them, and therefore there will be objections. It is with the offices that the objection is caused primarily by the fact that the choice is taken away from people – to go there or not. It becomes mandatory again. And even those who used to willingly go to the corporate location mention with dissatisfaction the need to spend time on logistics.

Almost 30,000 Amazon employees signed a petition in response to calls for a mandatory return to the office. Most likely, at first there were fewer fans of distance among them. But this format was imposed on them at one time, and now, after they have already built their lives around it, they are trying to turn everything back…

Returning to the office involves spending time that a person is already accustomed to consider personal. He used to spend 2 or even 4 hours traveling to work. Now this is the time he spends with his family either on a run in the nearby park or simply on the sofa watching a series. Why is he suddenly happy that this time is disappearing from his life again?

To repay this dissatisfaction, you need to offer something in return. What exactly – the question is open, because it is enough for some to offer silence, for others – money, and still others will not “sell” the balance between work and personal life for anything. In any case, it seems that if the goal is to retain the team by moving it to the office, the approach should be individual, not one-size-fits-all within a company of thousands of employees.

The hybrid format is not really a compromise

This is just the third format, which has now become fashionable. But like the first two formats, it must be KNOWN how to organize it. It is not enough to call everyone to the office, open an open space with table armor and be happy with the results. It is necessary to properly organize communications, distribution of the same free tables and much more. We already wrote about this once (Hybrid format – neither fish nor meat in remoteness), and also about how remote experiments unfold and collapse (People and Process: Why Deletion Isn’t Right for Every Company?).

Let’s see if it will be possible to build the employees of those who declare hybrid as flexibility.

Distance learning requires certain personal qualities

The remote work format is really not suitable for everyone. Moreover, at different periods of life, a person may or may not want (or be unable) to work remotely.

In order to feel comfortable in this format, a high level of self-organization, as well as proactivity and responsibility, is necessary. You need to independently monitor your performance and take measures to improve it in certain cases even before the employer has indicated it.

Since the sharing of knowledge is complicated at a remote location, middle and senior level specialists feel better. Of course, it is easier for June to gain experience from colleagues at the next desk in the office, and then go to the home office.

Data from various studies differ, but on average, statistics say that about a third of professionals feel good about being remote. Another third is convenient in hybrid mode.

In order for the removal to take place, it is necessary to gather in one place a person with the ability and a certain composition of character, as well as an organization that can organize the appropriate processes of recruitment and labor organization. This is the only way it will work in the long run. But massively and for everyone – hardly. In this sense, covid did not change anything for the better, as did subsequent events.

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