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Why Corporate America has misjudged the RTO mandate
Tall Skyscrapers face pushback
New York, September 7th 2023
Hallo from sweltering New York where the temperature reflects the mood around work: hot and exasperated. And a little exhausted.
I am not remotely surprised at the backlash against the Return to Office Mandates in the US. Here's why:
1) Using Labor Day as a moment to RTO was always a hook not rooted in reality.
2) The pushback is real because people's lives have changed: patterns of childcare, location, ways of working. It takes 66 days to form a habit and it's well over 1,000 days since the start of the pandemic. That's a long habit to break.
3) There is not, absolutely not conclusive evidence that flexible working (not fully remote working) causes a drop in productivity.
4) That is not to say what I call The Nowhere Office is "no office" but that it is nowhere near a pre pandemic state, and much more of a "now" and "here" (hence the anagram) in which people choose what works for them and their teams rather than a blanket norm.
5) corporate communication on the changes in Corporate America have all the hallmarks of senior HR and PR people having a hand tied behind their backs by their boards and more specifically
6) as research from Scoop shows (and do listen to its founder Rob Sadow discussing the politics of flexible work in America on thenowhereoffice podcast with me and Stefan Stern ) shows, companies founded before 2000, ie with older founders, are more resistant than those founded after this date.
There's more but I would say to leaders, wake up and smell the coffee, start to reimagine how work gets done well flexibly and stop flex-shaming workers (kudos to Gemma Dale for this phrase). What do you think