As we’ve hit the fourth quarter, planning for next year is already in full swing. This is a time when I typically do a look-back, which includes reading over the predictions I made about the year. One prediction was about the changing workforce — that this year would bring new business models and work environments. It’s hard to find a news article or social media post about today’s work environments that doesn’t contain the word “hybrid” or the phrase “insisting people return to work.” It left me thinking, Did I get it right?
On September 26, Resume Builder released the results of a survey of 1,000 business leaders, which found that 90% of companies will require employees to return to the office in 2023. As of today, 45% of companies have a hybrid policy and 34% have a fully remote policy. The most common reason cited for coming back to the office: improve communication.
Great Place to Work did a two-year study on working remotely. Surveying 715 companies representing more than 3 million US employees, they discovered that working remotely led to increased productivity. Interestingly, they realized that the same factors influencing in-person productivity also affect remote productivity: company culture and leadership.
Finally, Monster surveyed nearly 2,000 workers and learned that two-thirds would quit if required to return to the office full time — and 40% said they would consider quitting even if required to come into the office only one day per week. The reason why workers want to remain remote: flexibility.
Who’s right? Everyone is.
At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was uncertain about the future. No one knew for sure what would happen or how it would all pan out. Here we are, nearly three years from where it began, and we’re feeling a little more normal, but we’re not out of the woods. We’ve learned to adapt and manage life with COVID-19. So many things seem more certain. Only now, there exists a whole new world of uncertainty — primarily with how we work, interact, and live life.
Once again, everyone is in their corner, putting on their armor and getting ready to do battle over absolutes like working from an office or from home. Companies will offer incentives to attract or retain employees; some will use sanctions like termination. Employees will use sanctions like quitting, but others will find imaginative ways to create incentives for their employers to adapt. And a whole swath of companies and employees will give in simply to appease and move on. The point is, if everyone puts on their blinders and sees their path forward as the only correct path, no one will win.
As with most commercial negotiations, there’s rarely only one path to a successful outcome. Those who get stuck in their ways, digging in their heels, will struggle. Those who can adapt when asked to do something different, or be flexible and try new approaches, or be creative when faced with obstacles will be the winners. These are some of the same ingredients that create successful negotiated outcomes: adaptability, flexibility, and creativity.
In terms of my prediction, here’s what I think I got wrong: I thought that work environments were only about physical space. In reality, the physical space is merely a strategy for achieving what you want. Regardless if you’re a business or an employee, the key to success (or, dare I say, happiness) is to do what skilled negotiators do: stay focused on what’s most important and be adaptable, flexible, and creative in your strategy for how to get there. When you can do that, you’ll be able to create winning work environments for all involved.
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Is your team stuck in their ways, digging in their heels while seeing increasingly diminished returns on their deals? As history has consistently shown, those who can adapt when asked to do something different, or be flexible and try new approaches, or be creative when faced with obstacles will create win-win-win deals. We can help! Drawing on nearly 50 years of real-world negotiating experience, we’ll assist you with getting better deals, saving time, and creating value for all involved — not to mention preserving and even strengthening relationships. Let us partner you with one of our advisers, ensuring that you’ve got the broadest view of your deal.