Tuesday, October 24

Back to Office Challenges

I met someone tasked with implementing back-to-office measures for a local company, but it's apparently quite a challenge. I've read about this subject a bit, but I've never met anyone on the management end of the situation, so it was interesting to learn how the bosses see it.

The person I met did not make the rules for return, but I was told there are industry best practices that many companies use. However, the Jacksonville corporation was implementing its own rules. These rules were seen as restrictive and kind of old-fashioned by the industry insider. For example, re-establishing large conference room meetings that would probably only have a few employees taking part in. And something to do with attendance. I'm not totally sure, but the point was that a lot of companies pre-covid had working systems that could be emulated, yet a local company decided to create rules that I was told won't work well.

Part of the problem with the local company rules was that they weren't paired with incentives. Stuff like free pastries. I'd read about UberLyft passes. Maybe a pingpong table. I don't know what all of the incentives would be to induce people to get out of their pajamas, drive 45 minutes, hang out with other people who don't love their jobs, find childcare, and have to find reasons to sneak out early every day. I guess on-site childcare helps. Casual Mondays? Anyhow, I was told workers are rebelling hard without incentives.

That said, the industry insider I met told me that a company in the Midwest (where people tend to value rules and work) had a 25% attendance rate on a given Wednesday, with even lower attendance on Mondays and Fridays (this person said the office was basically empty). And that's with implementing both rules and incentives. Basically, it seems like members of the laptop class are going to continue to make their own work schedule for as long as they can, and it seems like they can for as long as they have their jobs.

End Game
Large companies own or lease a lot of space for employees. It's a huge expense that a lot of employees don't believe is necessary, but employers still believe in it. Work Dead Zones seem to exist on Mondays, Fridays, every day for school pick ups and lunches and whatever else workers got used to at home.

Just like the UAW possibly overreaching on auto worker compensation, typical office workers may learn their jobs can be performed overseas. Office workers might learn how AI can help them just in time to see it do their jobs, but I don't know for sure. As someone who has had to show up in person to all my jobs, I couldn't imagine flipping off my boss in the way many American workers can and do, so I'm intrigued by what will happen next. Will workers adjust to keep their jobs or will the industry adjust to keep their workers?

By the way, if you run a local office and want to replace someone with a fat paycheck who refuses to come into the actual office, I'm available. English degree, French minor, Urban Planning certificate, 12 years teaching high school English. 10 years building websites, creating content online, and renting property. I can do a lot, and it doesn't have to be at home.

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