Hybrid work will ‘fail’ if executives place too much emphasis on the office: Slack
Australian executives must listen to their employees when they return to the office or risk further strikeouts, Slack warned.
New data from the business messaging platform’s Future Forum Pulse survey shows that nearly 60% of Australian knowledge workers would consider taking a new job next year.
With the “big resignation” in effect around the world, Slack says Australians have identified flexible working arrangements as a major concern.
Companies could lose talented employees if executives don’t facilitate this kind of long-term hybrid work, said Sheela Subramanian, senior director of the Future Forum.
“With this desire for flexibility, what we’re seeing from the data is what we call a disconnect between management policies and employee expectations,” Subramanian told Business Insider Australia.
Slack data suggests executives around the world are three times more likely than other employees to seek a full-time return to the office.
At the same time, less than half of employees believe executives are “very transparent” about their plans when COVID-19 restrictions are dropped.
“Two-thirds [of executives] don’t even talk to their employees, ”Subramanian said.
“And so if you don’t necessarily know what’s going on, or if you don’t feel like you’re part of the process, then trust is inevitably lower with your leadership team.”
‘Domino effect’ could hurt workforce, says Slack
After months of difficult lockdown conditions, businesses in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory are now planning their return to the office.
In a bid to inspire business confidence, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet today accelerated the end of office mask mandates, saying they won’t be needed when the state hits a rate vaccination rate of 80%.
Meanwhile, Victoria’s roadmap says fully vaccinated workers will be allowed to return to the office once an 80% vaccination rate is reached, which could be as early as November 5.
Only 9% of Australian workers said they didn’t want to work in the office at all, according to data from Slack.
But executives need to make sure they reintegrate the office into the working lives of their employees without overshadowing the benefits of hybrid working, Subramanian said.
“If an organization says, ‘Okay, we’re going hybrid, you should come these two days a week,’ but then the whole management team comes into the office and calls meetings where people are in the office. , what are we going to see that more people will feel obligated to come, ”she said.
“And this whole experiment will have failed in many forms.”
Workplaces could be disrupted if executives place too much emphasis on the office in the future, she added.
“It’s a domino effect if the executives come every day and they meet, and then other people feel that their next direct must come to show that they are engaged. “
Empty offices preparing for a phased return
As state governments lead the way for a return to work in person, new figures from the Property Council of Australia (PCA) indicate office building owners have little confidence in a sudden return to CBD.
In a Thursday memo, the PCA said more than three-quarters of all respondents expect a “significant increase” in the occupancy rate of CBD offices over the next three months.
The Sydney CBD office occupancy rate was only 4% of pre-COVID levels in September, the PCA said, while the Melbourne offices fared only slightly better at 6%.
PCA chief executive Keith Morrison said owners and managers of CBD offices in Sydney and Melbourne “are working to prepare their assets for the return of the vaccinated workers.”
As employees wait to see how the office is reintroduced into their working lives, Subramanian said employers should use this time away from the traditional workspace to reflect on their own management habits.
“Traditional management training has focused a lot more on checking attendance, controlling access, checking status and unblocking barriers at work,” she said.
“It wasn’t necessarily about coaching, empathy and listening. And these are new skills that leaders need to incorporate into their overall skills to lead the distributed team. Leaders need to invest in this.