Why Bosses Are Inflexible About Flexible Work Arrangements

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ever think Your boss just doesn’t understand you? That’s because they don’t—and that’s especially true when it comes to flexible working.

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Future Forum, a research group supported by Loose, its quarterly runs “pulsation“Survey of 10,000 knowledge workers with focus groups with their mentors in six countries, including the US and UK. For the latest iteration, the Pulse study focused on the lockdown-imposed home-work experiment and the slow return to the office—and it will come as no surprise to find that management is more eager than ever to see employees at their desks. Leave them working from home.

The study showed that executives are more than twice as likely to be back in the office full time — every single working day, as in “premature” — compared to their employees, 44 percent of executives crave their commute and fluorescents. Lighting versus 17 percent of their employees. Few bosses are willing to offer some flexibility, with two-thirds of executives saying they want to work in the office most or all of the time.

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But employees—or, as the survey identifies them, “non-executive” knowledge workers—don’t agree. More than three-quarters (76 percent) said they want flexibility in working from home or the office, and even more, 93 percent, have When They do.

why doesn’t the boss listen

What’s behind this disconnect? Brian Elliott, executive leader of the Future Forum and senior vice president of Slack, highlights three main problems. First, executives are more content at work than their employees, Elliott says, posting job satisfaction scores 62 percent above non-executive employees. And no wonder: They have better homes, better offices, and better salaries.

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“Even if they are working from home, officers have better resources,” he says. “They have a nice home with plenty of space, the ability to take care of the kids when schools are closed.” And when they’re at work, he says, officers find doors that close instead of shut. open-plan hot desk, as well as autonomy and flexibility in their work – they are in charge, after all. “Officers have better experience,” Elliott says.

So it’s no surprise that executives are happier in the office than the rest of us, but some also suffer a pervasive form of confirmation bias, Elliott says, assuming that we’re setup as well. are satisfied. This is the second problem Elliott refers to as “one’s focus group”: the assumption that, because an exec may have worked their way through the ranks, they know what current employees are thinking, Despite the many changes that have happened in the intervening decades, especially around technology and collaboration tools. “It bothers me: 66 percent of executives in our survey told us that their future work plans are being constructed with little or no direct input from the employees themselves,” he says.

The third problem highlighted by Elliot is the lack of transparency: some of the impact of these executive beliefs will be diminished if bosses share their future work plans with employees and are bothered to voice their opinions. The survey showed that less than half of employees believe their bosses are transparent about future plans.

Elliott says that his focus groups with executives revealed that company leadership was often afraid of transparency in case plans change or go down the wrong road. “One of the things I hear constantly is: Our answers are going to change, we don’t know what’s going to happen next, so we don’t want to say anything until we know all the answers. ” it is said. “The alternative is to accept that you don’t have all the answers and enroll your employees to explore your point of view.”

At Slack, he says, staff involved in experiments to work in changing conditions, such as testing different ways of running meetings where people were both in the office and calling remotely to see which technology worked best. does. “Small experiments like these do two things: they teach people different ways of doing things and they get people involved in the process,” he says. “There are so many things we don’t have the answers to and acknowledging that and enrolling people to help figure it out makes people more invested in being a part of your company.”

harmful disconnect

In fact, this executive-employee disconnect is a problem beyond mutual frustration, as one of the drivers behind it. so called great resignation, which saw 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April alone, a 20-year high. This is supported by a Pulse study, in which 57 percent of knowledge workers said they plan to find a new role next year. “If you’re not transparent about your future action plans, you’re twice as likely to lose people,” says Elliott.

owners face this recruitment struggle, unless they can quickly convince employees that it is worth staying. What to do? According to the study, the top two factors affecting job satisfaction were compensation and job flexibility, suggesting that employers determined to keep employees coming to the office may need to raise wages to avoid a flood of resignations. can. “You can’t turn back the clock” on flexibility, says Elliott.

Additionally, at the start of the pandemic the idea that flexible working could be good news for diversity showed the survey showed that 87 percent and 81 percent of Asian and black respondents were in favor of flexible working, compared to 75. The percentages were in favor of white respondents. , On gender, 85 percent of women support it, compared to 79 percent of men. “People who do this right will not only attract more talent, they will attract more diverse talent,” Elliott says.

The rise in positive sentiment for Black knowledge workers has been tracked with the rise of flexible working, Elliott notes—a year ago, only 48 percent said they were treated fairly at work, rising to 73 in the latest survey. Percentage done.

The past 20 months have provided an opportunity to rebuild work in a positive way to bring more balance into our lives – but only if the boss listens. If They Don’t, Maybe It’s Time Look elsewhere for employment,

The Future Forum puts it another way, advising executives to embrace flexibility, incorporate reward, and build relationships through transparency—in other words, a focus on what employees want and give them. The disconnect isn’t going away — and thanks to great resignation, the bosses no longer have the upper hand.


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