Some companies are imposing penalties on employees who are reluctant to return to the office. Managers are considering cutting pay, reducing benefits, or even firing those who want to continue to work remotely. About 77% of managers said they’d be willing to implement “severe consequences” – including letting workers go or cutting pay and benefits – on those who refuse to return to the office, according to a recent survey of 3,500 American managers by employment background check company GoodHire. London law firm Stephenson Harwood’s staff were told that they can permanently work from home in return for a 20% pay cut and, late last year, Google announced plans to dock the pay of staff who continued to work from home.
Why is it important?
A hardline attitude to working at the office is not good for anyone. Employees who feel their safety and needs are not being considered by an employer may be resentful, which could lead to lower productivity, low morale and job hopping. Independent review website Digital says that resistance to at-home work will only negatively impact employers going forward and that “companies that focus on physical location and hours worked will be behind the curve. They should focus instead on the value produced by their extended teams. Otherwise, their most valued employees may seek out remote opportunities elsewhere.” Even if managers do not actually implement punitive measures, employees who choose not to come to the office might be treated differently. According to a recent survey by consultants Gartner, nearly two-thirds of leaders say those who come into the office are likely to receive preferential treatment, better known as “proximity bias.”
What can businesses do about it?
Businesses should carefully consider the implications of mandating their employees to return to the office, and would be advised to contemplate a hybrid work arrangement instead as more workers demand flexibility. They could also look for ways to enable remote employees to work successfully from home and find other ways to measure productivity that doesn’t involve hours spent physically at work. Daily standing meetings and video conferences are great ways to create structure and human connection. Project management platforms are also extremely helpful.
By Faeeza Khan
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Image credit: Bethany Legg