💬 Issue #43 - Eeyore in the Emerald City
To quote a melancholy donkey: We can’t all, and some of us don’t
The yellow brick road back to the office is paved in vibes, watch out or you’ll be engulfed by the Great Gloom, and the former head of remote work at Meta pulls back the curtain on the fantasy of hybrid work plans. Tada, it’s Friday!
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” So says the Wizard of Oz who – despite the fantastic splendor of the Emerald City – is an ordinary man who got lost on his way to Kansas.
Ed Zitron reveals that our own wizards of Oz are the CEOs and managers pushing employees to return to the office with little – arguably zero – evidence to back their mandates. And this is from companies who have parlayed data-driven decision-making into literally billions of dollars.
All of that data you’ve been seeing about productivity declines and its correlation to remote work? It turns out to come from highly flawed studies with little to no relevance for knowledge workers. One commonly cited study documented an 18% drop in productivity when workers were allowed to work from home. The rub? Study participants were entry-level data workers who had themselves been picked for the research, and the study’s measure of productivity described the speed at which these workers could accurately input data -- a task not generally analogous to what most knowledge workers do all day.
This disconnect exposes “that these mandates are mostly an attempt to reestablish a surveillance society that allows managers to skip over the tough task of building a company where people actually want to work.” CEOs are alienated from their products, their teams, and the work required to build both products and healthy teams -- and the result is a cynical appeal to working-better-together vibes, or if that doesn’t work, threats. All of which leaves workers clicking their heels in vain.
I WAS SO UPSET, I FORGOT TO BE HAPPY
You’ve made it through Quiet Quitting and the Great Resignation. (There was a global pandemic in there too.) But as it turns out, the parade through Bummertown is long and winding. Welcome to the Great Gloom.
Research from BambooHR suggests that employee engagement and satisfaction is dropping at a higher rate than at any time in the past three years. Workers may not be quitting but they are, well, pretty unhappy.
The symptoms of the Great Gloom will be familiar to anyone who’s spent time looking around them at work. They are, according to CEO Jenn Lim, the three Rs of disengagement: reduction in productivity and quality, refusal of growth opportunities, and remaining silent. Picture a stagnant pool of water on a muggy day -- no movement, no growth, no vibrancy.
The remedy? Lim argues that this apathy is due to “a disconnect between the employee and the organization’s purpose,” and there’s a solution. Or rather three solutions that are, you guessed it, neatly bundled in a friendly acronym. They are the three Cs of engagement: communicating with psychological safety, connecting around purpose and goals, and creating a culture that rewards behavior aligned with your org’s values. Connection and shared values lets everyone participate in a flourishing little ecosystem. Or, to quote our old pal Eeyore again, “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”
WATER, WATER, EVERY WHERE
Annie Dean, VP of Team Anywhere at Atlassian, former head of remote work for Meta, is busting the myth that hybrid RTO plans are a compromise favorable to workers and management. Rather, by “mandating any amount of time in the office, companies remove many potential benefits for the employee and much of the benefit for the company.” After all, if you have to live close enough to the office to get there X times a week, you lose the ability to live somewhere farther away with a lower cost of living. And companies miss out on a geographically diverse labor pool while they also pay astronomical rent for office space that is sparsely -- and begrudgingly -- used.
Dean points out that women vastly prefer fully remote work options, as they tend to do the lionshare of caretaking at home, but the benefits in health and work/life balance are enjoyed by workers across the board. Above all, Dean believes this is an opportunity for true innovation, and we’re getting distracted by the entire hybrid/RTO debate: “Those are all how to work problems, not where to work problems … The office won’t solve these problems. New ways of working will. This is a watershed moment of innovation of how work gets done, but we’re still talking about the f–king watercooler.”
ELSEWHERE ON THE INTERNETS
YESTERYEAR TECH OF THE WEEK
See ya next week,
– The EiT crew at Status Hero