Welcome to The Long View—where we peruse the news of the week and strip it to the essentials. Let’s work out what really matters.
This week: I’m devoting my entire column to new ways of working. Whether it’s remote work, enforced hybrid working or a four-day working week, let’s triage the trends and futz with the future.
Analysis: The Great Resignation — Not So Great
Too many managers are stuck in their old ways. Despite the success of pandemic-era WFH, they yearn for how it used to be. But that ship has sailed.
Mark Gurman: Apple Sets Return-to-Office Deadline
“Pushing employees back into the office”
The company … set a Sept. 5 deadline [and] will require employees to work from the office on Tuesdays, Thursdays and a regular third day that will be determined by individual teams. [It] has been working toward getting its employees back in the office since at least June 2021, when it first announced the three-day policy.
The iPhone maker has been one of the most stringent technology companies when it comes to pushing employees back into the office, irking some staffers. … An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
It “Shows the Company Hasn’t Learned Anything,” cries Jason Aten:
“Not the same thing as actual collaboration”
Right now, every company is trying to figure out how to get its employees back to the office. Despite the fact that the world did not, in fact, come to a stop over the past two years. … Many companies—especially Apple—had their best two years ever when most of their employees were working from home.
Apple SVP of software Craig Federighi … told employees in an email … he “can’t wait to experience the special energy of having all of us back in the office together again!” … I imagine a lot of the people who work in the software organization are wondering whether that “special energy” actually makes them more productive—or if it’s just a thing managers feel as they watch employees.
If we’ve learned nothing else from the pandemic … coming to the office doesn’t make them more productive. It might make managers feel better … but that’s not the same thing as actual collaboration.
But WFH doesn’t suit everyone. Here’s Aunty’s Kate Morgan: Why workers just won’t stop quitting
Anthony C Klotz, a professor of management at University College London’s School of Management who coined the term “Great Resignation” [says] in addition to the original push factors … the reasons people are resigning have diversified. … Some workers are now swapping jobs that require them to be present in the workplace for remote positions. Other workers … are leaving remote jobs for ones that have a larger in-person component.
WWSJD? quonset knows:
Regardless of the jerk he was, Steve Jobs had grand visions which he brought to fruition. … One thing he stressed was the personal connection and serendipitous encounters.
It’s why, before he died, he was arms deep in the design of Apple’s headquarters. He wanted people to bump into each other, he wanted interaction between different groups. It’s why it’s designed the way it is. People are funneled to certain areas and have no choice but to interact with others.
Is there an unintended brand consequence? u/Latinhypercube123 demonstrates there might be:
Hahahaha. Apple is such a dead end company now. They’ve literally become what they ridiculed IBM of being: Corporate monolith of sameness.
But is there a better way? You should read Evelyn Yu: Bank Says Four-Day Week Is The ‘Future of Working Life’
“Flexible work is here to stay”
Six months after switching to a four-day working week, the UK’s Atom Bank said it’s seen benefits from talent retention to improved productivity. … Days lost to sickness fell over the period and customer service ratings also improved.
Even as the pandemic recedes and some bosses push for a return to the office, there’s increasing evidence flexible work is here to stay. Office vacancies in central London are at the highest level in more than 15 years.
Not just in the UK—it’s in Canada too. Here’s Sean Davidson:
“Huge impact on employee retention”
Ross Wainwright, CEO of Alida, said the software company implemented four-day work weeks for its 500 employees at the start of June and the two-month trial wraps up this week: … “The early results are fantastic. … The employees are clearly happier. … This is about getting better balance for our employees and helping to invest in their mental health.”
He said the trial is also having a “huge impact” on employee retention. … The most “unanticipated” result of the trial was how empowered his employees told him they felt, knowing the company trusted them to get the job done with a reduced schedule: “We empowered the employees to get the work done within their schedule.”
Also in Toronto is u/SuperChloe:
We had similar results at my company when we initially trialed 4-days (also not longer days, still 9-5) — overall increased output/productivity and employee satisfaction. We’ve moved to permanently having a 4 day work week.
Meanwhile, @AnnaLovesVoting is just fine with a hybrid schedule:
I don’t need 100% WFH, I’m willing to go to an office 1 maybe 2 days a year.
The Moral of the Story:
The tempter or the tempted—who sins most?
You have been reading The Long View by Richi Jennings. You can contact him at @RiCHi or [email protected].
Image: Carles Rabada (via Unsplash; leveled and cropped)