Offices lay almost empty across the world

In response to our last blog regarding depression experienced by homeworkers, what are managers feeling about the situation? We are receiving feedback that managers feel that things will never go back to how it was before Covid-19, when you needed to have someone at their desk 5 days a week, but they feel people need to be back in the office interacting with each other.

Even though lockdowns are coming and going with seeming regularity, we have data from polls throughout last year which point us in certain directions. A ManpowerGroup poll conducted in June point to findings that UK and US workers were much more reticent than their fellow workers in Europe, Mexico and Singapore.

Towards the end of the year, a poll conducted for Morgan Stanley showed that just under 50% more French office workers returned to work than UK office workers.

And managers are fully aware of this and are struggling to find solutions. A recent survey conducted by Martec Group found that only 16% of workers considered themselves ‘thriving’ when homeworking. The negative mental health impact from being separated from the working and social community of the workplace is damaging confidence. And that is not even touching the decline in productivity reported, with around 40% of respondents noticing a decline.

The tech leaders like Google have hinted that office working will return as soon as it possibly can. The first question that requires answering is ‘who first?’. Reed Hastings, one of the CEOs of Netflix has commented that the lack of face-to-face meetings is a “pure negative”.

As most things are, this cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Rather than selecting the return of those with a certain role, one must consider an individual’s situation. It must be ascertained whether a worker is one of those who are thriving or one of those who are suffering. Managers must be agile and sensitive to the approaches they take as most will never have experienced this way of working and have never been required to make these kinds of decisions before, decisions that are integral to the full productivity of the company.

The Martec poll identified ‘thriving’, ‘hopeful’, ‘discouraged’ and ‘trapped’ as the four main categories of worker that managers must figure out how to deal with appropriately.

The ‘thrivers’ tend to be introverts and also, interestingly, are predominantly female and predominantly in entry-level jobs. They are happy to have a reduced commute.

Those who are most ‘hopeful’ are a mixed bag of seniors and juniors, dedicating themselves to making it work despite missing chats around the watercooler.

A ‘discouraged’ worker could be either male or female, usually extroverted and aged from mid-20s to mid-40s. Interestingly, these are predominantly management level employees and could explain why managers are keen to get everyone back to the office.

Those feeling ‘trapped’ were primarily younger employees frustrated by both working from home and how the working from home situation has been handled by management.

Of course, bringing people back not only depends on the employee, but the employer. The only way to maximise the potential within a company is to create a space where the employee is allowed to identify and communicate their needs to a receptive organisation.

The C-suite need to leave their own personal preferences out of the equation. A response from a CEO about certain employees ‘gaming the system’ must be dealt with on an individual basis, not as a team. If allowed to fester this can affect the whole team and destroy a productive atmosphere. On the flipside, those who remain remotely working must not be forgotten about and passed over for promotion because they are not able to participate in face-to-face meetings all of the time.

We have been helping businesses access talent that wouldn’t normally be considered due to location or distance from the office. Creating unique hiring plans and strategies, particularly around whether some skill sets need to be in the office or not, means we can make a real difference, so if you are in any doubt over how to precede, you can always engage Zenshin Talent to help.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.