Outside the Box: This CEO says employees deserve to work from home — and it’s better for business

by | Feb 17, 2023 | Stock Market

I have genuine respect for Walt Disney
CEO Bob Iger and JPMorgan Chase
CEO Jamie Dimon, but I think they are flat-out wrong to insist that workers return to the office full time. This is bad for employees, and it’s bad for business. Companies thrive on trust and understanding. Edicts to get into the office or else ultimately undermine everyone, from the top down. Employees have said they would be willing to take a pay cut to keep working remotely, and executives concede that such flexibility has allowed them to moderate wage growth. 

“ The unplanned work-from-home experiment forced by the COVID pandemic created new work norms and reshaped employee expectations. ”

While the decision is, of course, a company’s prerogative, it’s backward-looking rather than forward-thinking. Survey after survey show that workers not only want more flexibility and less commuting, they demand it. As it turns out, the unplanned work-from-home experiment forced by the COVID pandemic created new work norms and reshaped employee expectations. Few people who have since proved they can successfully fulfill their work obligations from home embrace the prospect of being shoved back into cubicles. How many days in the office, which days, and who needs to show up at what time aren’t even the right questions to be asking or the right conversation to be having. In fact, it’s harder to manage hybrid employees than ones who are all in or all out. Instead, we should be exploring how to help employees thrive while working from anywhere, what communication tools work best to keep in touch, and why so many executives are afraid of the autonomy that comes from letting their staff work from home. Out of sight does not mean out of control.Work from anywhere So how do executives operate effectively in a work-from-anywhere world?  How do they open their hiring to the whole country, or world even, and also open their minds to the idea that these are best practices?   It starts with trust. Simple as that. Hire well, find people who fit with the existing ethos and have the required skills and experiences to do the work. Create and run a great onboarding process (our company’s process takes three months). Provide all the support necessary up front. Then trust people to do the job they were hired to do. If they prove untrustworthy, fair enough; deal with that when it happens. But if you’re mistrusting employees from the get-go, that’s a leadership or a hiring issue and not a work-from-anywhere one. Of course, this requires real, and sometimes difficult, conversations. There is no hovering over work-from-anywhere workers (which requires some letting go of ego, which can be tough, too). Leaders have to know their company’s needs, turn expectations into agreements and get buy-in during the hiring process. Don’t be afraid to talk about time allocation, the occasional need for extra hours or your company’s core values. After all, …

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