The Post-COVID mindset of “The coast is clear, let’s all come back to the office” has its roots in one of the challenges all Project Managers face: “We’ve always done it that way” syndrome. Not enough employers have challenged this conventional wisdom. The COVID lockdown has shown us there is a better way.
Current economic conditions make it imperative that employees push back against this thinking. Record high gas prices mean asking your employees to essentially take a pay cut to commute to work. Record high real estate prices and rising mortgage rates mean that a promising new hire cannot accept your position because relocating is a prohibitively expensive option. Mandating coming into the office means only drawing from a talent pool that live within a reasonable distance. Hiring good people is the most important function of a successful organization. Why would any forward thinking company live with this limitation?
The corporate culture that includes the unwritten rules “we can’t trust you to work unless we can see you” and “we require you to regularly spend lots of unpaid extra hours here in the office” must transition to “we hire good people and mutually set goals and deliverable deadlines and trust you to do your job well”.
Many now have seen the work-life balance advantages of working from home. Not to mention the obscene amount of wasted hours spent commuting. If your commute is 45 minutes a day (which many Americans think is “reasonable”) that is 1.5 hours round trip or 7.5 hours per week! You are putting in almost an extra day of work each week just commuting. We put up with this only because there wasn’t a better option prior to ubiquitous high speed internet access.
Your employees will become increasingly unhappy with a come into the office mandate and will seek employment that make coming into the office optional. Forward thinking companies will be more than happy to draw the top talent away from those stuck in the past. These are the enterprises that will be most successful in the future.
Labor has unprecedented power now. You should consider using it.
My Kindle book, “Project Management For The Real World” is available at