If there is one thing that the pandemic taught us – it is that we can be productive working from home. Employers who were previously hesitant about letting people work from home had little choice in 2020 and 2021. So why is it then, that I am hearing some of my friends, colleagues and even some clients talk about their policies mandating people to come back to the office???
Some employers are choosing to strip away the freedom to work from home that was once granted. Psychology tells us that people are WAY more sensitive to losing something than they are to gaining something. Making employees come back into the office after having the freedom to work from home can be extremely painful for some employees.
Now, not everyone has the same preference. There are those that choose, and prefer to, work in an office setting. There are those that prefer to work from home. As long as an employee’s performance is adequate, let them work from home. If you notice a slip in performance or lack of responsiveness during regular work hours, have a conversation with that person before jumping to conclusions and pulling them back into the office.
There are important things that should be done in person, like some meetings or certain client events. It may be difficult for some industries that have a mixed workforce, where some employees are able to work from home, and some are required to be at their place of work. Take for example an ambulance service – their HR person may be able to do 80% of their job from home. The EMTs and Paramedics will never get to work from home. The EMTs and Paramedics knew this when they signed up for the job. It doesn’t make it “unfair” that the HR person gets to work from home 4 out of 5 days. It makes sense for the HR person to be required to attend the weekly company meeting and stay in the office for questions at least one day per week.
As a leader, get to know your people and their preferences. Doing what you can to honor those preferences may lead to greater work satisfaction, increased productivity and improved retention.
Reflection Question – How do I honor the workplace flexibility preferences of those on my team?
Topic Next Week: Supervisor Boundaries