As the recent surge in delta variant cases suggests pandemic-era workplace conditions will continue, more friction is developing between bosses who wanted the workplace to return to normal, and workers more appreciative of and ultimately demanding remote work options. It is creating tension over benefits, opening dates, and ultimately, employee loyalty.
With delta closing offices around the country, many of which may be shuttered for two years, executives are worried new remote habits will die hard, The Wall Street Journal reported. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told the Journal, “there is no going back.” Prudential Vice Chair Rob Falzon said he’s most concerned about loyalty, since disconnected workers at home are more likely to heed a recruiter’s call and move elsewhere. That, and a desire for a more collaborative workspace, has led many companies to opt to remove private executive space to promote flatter, more open workspaces.
The executives aren’t wrong about habits forming: Recent PwC data found 41% of workers want to remain fully remote; only 29% said as much in January.
That, however, isn’t the full story, which is making reopening particularly hard for companies to navigate. A recent New York Times/Morning Consult poll, which informed a recent piece about employees missing the office, found 45% of employees pined to return to work. A potential office culture war between these two factions could cause divides as workers eventually try to formulate a new office culture.
A recent survey on burnout and vacations by workforce analytics company Visier, published in HR Dive, even suggested that, contrary to the idea that time off is always downtime, that most workers found a break offered just a temporary respite from stress. More desirable options included flexible work hours, mental health resources and support, paid sick days, a wellness program and a four-day workweek.