finding the middle ground between wfh and wfo
Nearly two years into an unanticipated monumental shift to work-from-home, business leaders across the world are more convinced that the major productivity gains have been achieved. A survey conducted by Intel which constituted over 3000 business leaders across 17 countries revealed that the pandemic had made a positive impact on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Remote and hybrid models have been the significant factors for achieving this goal.
The victory of remote work has reimagined how corporate work gets done, as well as where the work takes place. However, going to the office has a huge social dimension around it. Factors like kids returning to school, siblings and friends posting pictures from their offices and neighbours leaving for work and the general buzz around returning to work might eventually convince people to think beyond the comforts of their work-from-home arrangement.
The real question is, are employees eager to come back to the workplace or are they reluctant considering the WFH comfort they’ve had for 1-2 years?
According to a PwC report, Remote work has been a wondrous success for both employees and employers. The shift in positive attitudes toward remote work is evident. 83% of employers now say that the shift to remote work has been successful for their company. Due to the rise in the productivity factor, the notion of returning to work has inspired conversations and raised debates.
Some of the often quoted reasons for this reluctance are
- Some employees might not feel very comfortable expressing their ideas/creativity/curiosity when surrounded by people. For them, working from home was a boon.
- Commuting from one place to another takes a lot of time, work-from-home saves employees time and they can allocate more time for personal activities.
- Employees were able to focus on their tasks and did not get distracted by external factors.
Although employees are reluctant in returning to the office, certain perks do stand out.
- Brainstorming with the peers
- Fostering a healthy competition for better development and impact
- Reuniting with colleagues kindles the eagerness for them to come back to work.
Will FOMO drive people back to the office?
The fear of missing out (FOMO) refers to the feeling or perception that others are having more fun, living better lives, seeking better opportunities than you are. It involves a deep sense of envy and affects self-esteem when left unattended. FOMO could be a key factor in driving eagerness to return to the office. Serious FOMO is yet to set in, but the green shoots are visible.
In terms of work, a question like whether my competitor took over the most promising deal of the quarter induces anxiety. Workplace FOMO is driven by the fear of missing important tasks and lost opportunities. Workplace FOMO can induce a high cognitive load in the form of information overload. Times have changed and technology has evolved. Working from home is no longer seen as a privilege, but as a right by some working professionals. It is an organization’s choice whether or not to convince the employees and make them come back to the workplace.
For companies, there is a lot at stake. They need to keep their employees productive and happy during these tough economic times and their business depends on it. They will make decisions based on their urgency and the value of the resources concerned. Enterprises need to make their executive decisions and kickstart the processes that will trigger the FOMO among the workforce. FOMO is not an inappropriate word in this context, as even enterprise progress and aggression are driven by FOMO in the market. Enterprises bounced back and performed during the Pandemic through sheer FOMO. On the flip side, companies will also need to think carefully about employees who choose to return to the office.
Will return to office impact attrition rates?
According to research firm Gartner, the attrition rate rose from 10% in 2020 to 20% in 2021. Some IT service providers are even battling higher attrition rates of up to 30%.
Returning to the workplace post-covid-19 pandemic might or might not impact the attrition rate. Based on Xpheno’s research, we can predict that involuntary attrition will bounce back, and on the other hand, voluntary attrition will normalize. Organizations will return to the driving seat of attrition, after having given away the controls to the workforce in the post-pandemic curve. When Enterprises and Employees reconnect as different physical personalities, friction is inevitable.
Attrition rates in the IT industry in India
During the July-September stretch, attrition at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was at 11.9% up from 8.6% in the April-June quarter. For Bengaluru-headquartered Infosys, voluntary attrition on the last twelve months trailing (LTM) basis was at 20.1% in the September quarter, compared to 13.9% in the preceding quarter. Wipro recorded the highest attrition rate among the top-tier pack at 20.5%, as against 15.5% in Q1. In the
September quarter of FY22, Noida-based HCL Technologies’ attrition rate rose to 15.7%, from 11.8% in the June quarter.
Return to Office will reduce the ease of job hunt for employees and increase visibility to performance monitoring for enterprises. These two-factor changes will impact the ratio between voluntary and involuntary categories and the overall attrition should be expected to remain high for a few quarters more.
A new consensus: The Hybrid Model
According to the Nasscom survey, hybrid work is the preferred choice of over 70% of organisations.
In March of 2020, most companies would have seen their workplace as essential to their business. But when the pandemic hit, leaders were surprised to learn that people often work just as productively from home. Work-from-home was the only option for all the organizations. Irrespective of the different creative names that enterprises may come up with, the HYBRID model is at the core of all the models which is also a drastic departure from the traditional work model.
Hybrid working options look like the silver bullet that enterprises have in their arsenal. Enterprises that are sold on the return to the office, have taken up hybrid working as their primary route to ease the movement back. There are a few perks that make the hybrid model the silver bullet.
- Employees have more flexibility to get work done when they’re most productive.
- Flexibility is one of the key reasons. Employees have more control of their work schedules.
- As far as enterprises are concerned, they can hire talent from all around the globe with specialised talent.
- It can reduce the expense of what is made on real estate. It helps figure out how much office space is needed.
However, Hybrid models are a new game to most enterprises and there’s a lot of net practice that’s due, and they are pacing up their game with hybrid models. Partial workforces returning to the office and intermittently available at the office is not a model that managers and management are used to. If not anything else, Hybrid models could even trigger the FOMO faster among the workforce.
Although productivity has gone up with WFH, a few firms want to limit it and get employees back to the workplace. WFH Productivity came at a huge cost in the form of subpar organization building, culture creation and leadership development. Enterprises revelling in heightened profits are also aware of the challenges around sustaining the same. Large scale WFH has a shelf life when other enterprises return to the office and gain their edge in competitive situations.