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Is there a WFR Dichotomy Looming?

21.07.22 12:41 PM By Linq HR

There appeared to be very few reports at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic of people not enjoying the new flexibility of Working From Remote (WFR) arrangements, for those who had roles that could work remotely of course. 

Not only did it protect us but it allowed more time back each day not having to travel, and to work from home or wherever else we felt safe and comfortable. 

Working hours may have stretched longer but many reported they were more productive than working at the office.

It emphasised what many employees had been telling organisations for years, that it is output that should be valued and not just time spent at the office.

So employees seem to have adjusted but have their leadership? Some such as Telstra seemed to have publicly embraced WFR as a new modus operandi. 

Gillian Tett of the Financial Times reported that at a New York Stock Exchange event including many CEO’s a show of hands revealed most CEOs present disliked the policy of remote working.1 

Does this mean that except for a few leaders like Elon Musk of Tesla, most don’t wish to upset their workforces by publicly stating their preference for people to return to the office? Perhaps there is a WFR dichotomy looming between leadership and their workforces on remote working arrangements.

Even with mutterings of potential recessions around the world employees seem to be voting with their feet and willing to move roles to suit their preferred flexible work arrangements. If the US situation can be taken as a guide for Australia then a new survey from The Conference Board Human Capital Center reveals that one-third of workers are still actively looking for a new job.2 Companies who are offering to accommodate flexible work arrangements seem to be moving ahead in the battle for talent.

Perhaps employees are asking for for too much flexibility? Dr Caroline Knight, a Research Fellow at Curtin University's Future of Work Institute says "Some research on this actually does show that it's around two to two and a half [days]”.3  This probably matches where many companies themselves have naturally found an equilibrium between remote working and office time.

Only time will tell whether organisations will be able to adjust to find longer term effective remote working arrangements or will push for their employees to return to the office more than what they may truly wish. The balance achieved will likely determine whether there will be a dichotomy between leadership and employees on WFR arrangements.

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