Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses



As some global economies resume operations, disagreements have arisen over how to resume work.

At the beginning of June, the CEO of Apple, Tim cook, sent a note to all of its employees saying they were due to return to the office in September of this year. Workers had to go to the office three days a week, with two days working remotely.

Some employees disagreed and responded with their own letter to senior management: the post was a message of frustration about the new policy and also said it had led some employees to to abandon.

Apple’s policies before the COVID-19 pandemic discouraged remote working, but now workers are questioning what they call “a disconnection between what the management team thinks is a flexible location / remote job and the experiences of many Apple employees. “

Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses

They are not the only ones that resist back-to-office plans.

The work team in the magazine Washingtonian, based in the United States, stopped operations practically after CEO Cathy Merrill published an opinion column that appeared to threaten the job security of employees if they refused to return to the office five days a week.

Other employers continue to maintain a strict stance, although last week the Morgan Stanley manager, James gormanHe said he would be “very disappointed if people hadn’t found a way back to the office” from September. “If that happens, we’ll have a different kind of conversation. “

As employers begin to disclose their job prospects after the pandemic, labor movements are just beginning to emerge. endurance by employees who wish to retain the privileges of telecommuting.

But emerging and local protests may be an indicator of broader resistance.

Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses

Employees may feel that they have already demonstrated that they can be productive at home. And that the reasons why companies return to face-to-face work are not valid enough.

Establishing future working models that satisfy all parties will be a key complex procedure. But doing it will pay dividends for companies; if they don’t, and if employees have better options, they might as well walk away.

The discussion

Remote working has paid off for many employees, but not all.

A recent survey in the United States showed that 44% of people who worked from home in January 2021 wanted to continue with this program because it benefited them; 39% responded that they preferred to return to the office and 17% said they wanted to continue working remotely due to the coronavirus.

In general, teleworkers stood out don’t have to do it afterboygo to work as one of the great advantages, as well as having more space to balance family time, leisure and work.

Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses

Many employees believed remote working would prevail once introduced, and some even moved to other cities for this reason.

This happened in part because companies needed to act quickly and implement transitions. Some employers have even sent out signals suggesting the change will be long term.

Last September, for example, Tim Cook said he didn’t think Apple would be the same again “because we’ve found that some things work just fine virtually,” although he also cautioned against his comments.

“When decisions were made, everyone tried to understand them, and things have been said that have not been thought through in depthExplains Kimberly Merriman, professor of management at the Manning School of Business at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, USA.

Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses

Today, due to a more imminent return to face-to-face work, many companies are discussing a future “hybrid” which combines office hours and remote work.

But some require their employees to return to the office full time or for longer and more frequent periods than the workers had planned or anticipated.

It has become clear that not everyone is happy to have to go back to their desks. Many perceive that they showed adaptability to remote working early in the pandemic and that the experience was successful, including positions for which bosses had previously resisted any form of flexibility.

And they are skeptical of the reasons given by the companies to justify the return.

The corporate culture thesis

Many companies, for example, have highlighted company values ​​or culture as the reason behind the call for face-to-face work.

In the column you wrote in the Washington post, Merrill suggested that remote working was made easier at first because the team “has been able to rely on office cultures, established practices, non-explicit rules and shared values, established over the years in large part because people interacted in person. “

Another common belief is that remote working hinders collaboration and innovation, as the latter in particular often emerges from spontaneous conversations in the office.

Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses

There are also concerns that the remote working model may not work well for younger or grassroots employees who want to learn from their colleagues.

But aside from young workers, employees who feel productive and innovative from home are questioning the motto of getting involved in the “corporate culture”.

“This (emphasis on corporate culture) kept coming back in ways that didn’t feel authentic. It was almost like a euphemism for ‘I want you back, I don’t want you back. I don’t trust you. This is how employees interpret it. “, says Merriman.

In general, workers who have enjoyed more autonomy in their working lives than ever before are reluctant to trade it off for presenteeism and pre-pandemic surveillance.

“What we are seeing is a democratization of work, in the sense that people can decide how and when to work, ”says Stefanie Gustafsson, scholar at the University of Bath School of Business.

Merriman also notes that there has been a “shift in power dynamics” at work that will not go away.

“People today appreciate a work environment where they feel they matter, and leaders who ask for their input,” he says.


The good news is that in a competitive job market like that of the United States, those who are unhappy with their employer’s flexibility policy have options and wiggle room.

Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses

“To thrive, business leaders will need to understand what employees really want and create policies and plans that allow more flexibility and custom settings, ”says a recent report from PwC.

Companies that do not conform to the work structures desired by employees will do so at their own risk.

“As long as the workforce has alternatives, these organizations will lose,” warns Gustafsson.

“Before the pandemic, working in the office three days a week would have looked like a big change. But now people have options: Other organizations in the same space can offer fully flexible and remote working environments. “

Research on the subject certainly suggests that for a number of reasons: A higher than normal percentage of employees are considering the idea of ​​quitting their jobs, in what has been called the “Great Renunciation”.

The level of flexibility of companies could contribute to this. A survey shows that 54% of employees surveyed around the world would consider quitting their job if they do not have flexibility in terms of where and when they will work.

Just over 75% in the same group said they were satisfied with their job, suggesting that even satisfied employees are ready to give up If your employers do not incorporate some form of remote work.

Not all however, they will be able to take advantage of these privileges. There is a high demand for workers in the tech sector, giving them more flexible employment options among a wide range of companies, but workers in other sectors will have less room to maneuver.

Those who specialize in sales, administration or human resourcesFor example, they were less likely to work remotely in the first place, which may result in fewer opportunities to switch to this program in the future.


It remains to be seen whether employees who leave en masse or who have taken action to oppose post-pandemic work practices will influence company policies.

Apple has yet to publicly respond to the letter sent by its employees.

BBC Worklife has also contacted Apple, but Apple has not responded as of the publication date of this article.

Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses

But public resistance from employees like Apple’s can influence other people in other companies. Just as leaders watch other leaders bring employees back, they can refer to these resilience efforts for inspiration.

It is also clear that companies continue to adjust their policies. Amazon and Google recently introduced more flexibility in their previous back-to-office positions, although there is no evidence that this is in response to employee rejection. But, in general, dissatisfied staff does not give a good image in companies.

“Companies should be concerned when employees complain like this [el caso de Apple]. It can evolve and give the impression, even with a small number of employees, that this is the tone of the organization, ”says Merriman.

Rather than disseminating decisions from above, engaging in transparency and dialogue can be more helpful to employers as they establish what work will look like after a pandemic.

Over the past 15 months, many workers have embraced flexibility and self-reliance and will hesitate to give it up.

“[El rechazo] It’s more of a wake-up call than a death sentence for employer relations, ”explains Merriman.

“I don’t know why the pandemic caused [los líderes] they will forget that you cannot be a top down leader when workers have options. “

Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses

Employees who hesitate to return to the office despite calls from their bosses

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