The Great Disconnect: Many More Employers Than Workers Want To Return To Offices
Employers who think their workers want to return to the office as much as they do should consider taking a reality check before it is too late.
The Future Forum Pulse, a global study released today by the Future Forum, shows there is a wide gap about returning to the office between executives and non-executives Failure to address the gap could create crisis situations for companies and organizations.
According to the report:
- Executives who work remotely are nearly three times more likely than employees to prefer returning to the office full-time; 76% of employees do not want to return to full-time office work.
- 76% of employees want flexibility where they work, and 93% want flexibility when they work.
The Future Forum Pulse surveyed 10,569 knowledge workers in the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K. between July 28 and August 10, 2021. The survey, which was administered by Qualtrics, did not target Slack employees or customers. Respondents were knowledge workers, employed full-time and worked 30 or more hours per week.
A Different View
“The view of the office looks different from the top,” said Brian Elliott, vice president of the Future Forum which released the report. The Forum is a consortium that was launched by messaging app Slack.
“While executives are banging down the door to get back to their corner offices, non-executive employees are demanding flexibility in where and when they work. Companies must do more to bridge this gap in order to attract and retain top talent,” he said.
Companies could be creating a crisis if they are not open to alternatives for how and where employees work.
According to the Forum, flexibility now ranks second only to compensation when it comes to job satisfaction. “Employees are increasingly willing to walk if employers can’t deliver. The Pulse study shows that 57% of knowledge workers are open to looking for a new job in the next year.”
Why The Disconnect?
The Forum attributed the current disconnect between employers and employees to the fact that executives have a much higher job satisfaction than workers (+62%) and those executives are far more likely to believe their organizations are transparent with their communications.
Remote Working Trend
As I wrote last month, “In 2020, tens of millions of people started working from home, not because they wanted to, but because their companies shut their offices out of concern about Covid or were required to close by the government.
“Ironically, some employees have enjoyed working from home so much that they'd rather quit their jobs than go back to the office full time, according to a recent survey.”
Clinging To The Past
“Studies show that many executives are holding on to the remnants of the past and failing to see this as an inflection point in the workforce,” said Ella Washington, an organizational psychologist and professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and the founder of Ellavate Solutions.
“If employers don’t pay attention and take action to re-create the best of what we’ve learned working virtually in the office and in hybrid work environments, then opportunities for inequity could skyrocket,” she said.
Advice For Business Leaders
- The Future Forum said, the “dramatic divide between executive and employee preferences should raise the alarm, since [the survey founded] most employers (86%) are close to finalizing their ‘post-pandemic’ workforce plans. But 66% of executives report[ed] that these planning conversations are happening primarily at the executive level with little to no direct input from employees.”
Bridge The Gap
- Companies and organizations that want to attract and retain top talent need to recognize the disconnect between employers and workers, the reasons behind it and ways to bridge the gap.
- Don’t assume or be surprised how your employees feel about where and how they work. If you have not asked them yet, better ask them now.