Demanding a return to the office doesn't improve results
ALSO: your team don't just want to avoid you, they're avoiding their friends
The office alone isn’t the solution
You may have seen coverage this week of an extensive study of organisations of who had mandated a return to the office. It found that they weren’t any more successful than those who maintained hybrid working practices, finding:
RTO mandates were more likely in firms with bad recent performance
… and in those with powerful male CEOs
Employee satisfaction takes a hit with RTO orders: Glassdoor data finds RTO mandates significantly reduce employee ratings for job satisfaction, work-life balance & perception of senior management
RTO mandates don’t seem to have any impact on on profitability or business performance
Nick Bloom concludes that “RTO mandates are often a response to poor recent company performance, perhaps adopted by under-pressure CEOs. These RTO mandates upset employees, but do not appear to yield performance benefits in return”.
Generally the use of office time isn’t a bad thing, but demanding more office time alone won’t fix a broken culture.
It’s not just that you’re team don’t want to hang with you…
It's not just that some colleagues don't want to go out and socialise with their colleagues, they don't want to socialise with their friends either.
We're entering an era of introversion and disconnection that could yet have a societal impact on how we live our lives. The article captures the trend of rising societal isolation.
I’ve said repeatedly that the growing challenge of managers is to be entrepreneurial building connection in their teams, this trend shows that relying on team nights out might not cut it anymore…
You might have seen the news story last week of a manager being refused permission to turn her job at the Financial Conduct Authority fully remote. It’s very much worth reading this analysis of the case. The employer asked for the manager to be in the office for 2 days a week to make it easier for junior staff to talk to her, she refused and took her case to an employment tribunal, ultimately losing. It is expected to be precedent setting for future cases.
Friday used to be primetime. You’d pay the highest price on the train to travel on Friday. Not any more. Many city centre restaurants will tell you that Friday lunch is the quietest point of the week. In response London has just trialled making Friday travel off-peak all day
Consulting firm EY are the latest firm to use badge/gate data to measure if employees are making their way into the office: ‘at least 50 per cent of some teams were failing to meet its policy of being in the office at least two days a week’. In the US, where many employees have moved state in the last four years, IBM has told workers they need to be commuting distance to work or leave the company.
The fury about the ‘8am workout class’ is a great example of how Gen Z workers are being styled as unreasonable without necessarily doing anything wrong. (TL;DR if you missed it there has been an apocryphal story of someone posing a workplace challenge: ‘my hours are 9-5 but my boss has told me to come in for an 8am meeting, I have a workout class at that time so I said no can do’. This post explains the case for the defence
When it comes to creating a great culture bringing the energy is an important component of leadership. This article about Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, quitting because he’s exhausted is a good read: “bosses spend 70% of their time interacting with colleagues [and] clients… If you are the kind of person who derives energy from spending time with other people, this is like being a phone on charge all the time. If you are introverted and find other people draining… it is only a matter of time before you shut down completely”. I don’t think Klopp is an introvert but it’s a good recognition of the demands on bosses
If you’re interested in the internet and the evolution of popular culture then Cory Doctorow’s lecture that he gave yesterday on the ‘enshittification’ of the internet is worth reading: (if you’re going to watch the video click to the start here. I’m not quite sure why he’s the only one wearing a mask)
“Most of our global economy is dominated by five or fewer global companies. If smaller companies refuse to sell themselves to these cartels, the giants have free rein to flout competition law further, with ‘predatory pricing’ that keeps an independent rival from gaining a foothold.
When Diapers.com refused Amazon’s acquisition offer, Amazon lit $100m on fire, selling diapers way below cost for months, until diapers.com went bust, and Amazon bought them for pennies on the dollar, and shut them down.
Competition is a distant memory. As Tom Eastman says, the web has devolved into ‘five giant websites filled with screenshots of text from the other four,’ so these giant companies no longer fear losing our business”.
Can you turn round a hospital trust by changing the culture?
When Matthew Trainer took over as the CEO of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge Trust he was an optimist armed with hope in the face of experience.
The trust had one of the longest A&E waiting times in the UK, long waiting lists and had spent time in the recent past under ‘special measures’ to get its performance back on track. He was convinced that if he empowered the team to turn things around, good times might return.
Do you work somewhere like this and you think I should cover your workplace? Get in touch.