The State of the Tech Rebellion Against Return-to-Work

No one can deny it: witnessing the end of the pandemic is good news. Lesser cases of COVID-19 mean the world is healing, and life will hopefully be back to how it used to be. Being back to “normal” means there is the freedom to travel again, less worry about meeting up with friends and loved ones, fewer concerns about going to the office, and the entire globe is no longer at a standstill. 

However, in the tech industry, there seems to be a hold-up. The assumed temporary work-from-home setup seemed to have made employees feel more at ease with not going to the office anymore. Many are doing their best to hit targets in the comfort of their abodes. While company leaders are instructing everyone to return to the office, workers resist doing so, thus the rise of tech rebellion. 

Whose side makes better sense: tech employees who have proven that the remote work setup is still productive or company executives who want to unite their workers physically under the roof of their offices? Let’s delve into this ongoing debate and gauge if the two opposing parties can perhaps meet in the middle. 

 

Returning To Office: What Is the Current Situation in the US? 

Company leaders are excited to welcome back their workforce after struggling with productivity and company growth through distance working. With the recent decrease in COVID-19 cases, it’s also an opportune time to open the offices again. 

In an April 11 memo, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said that he is looking forward to everyone being together as he laid down his hybrid back-to-work plan. Additionally, Google decided to have their teams back in their physical offices for at least three days per week. On the other hand, Microsoft gave their employees 30 days last February to be accustomed to their new hybrid setup. 

Even President Joe Biden encouraged the working public to take action and return to the habit of being in the office for work. In a letter he addressed to federal workers, he mentioned that it’s about time for Americans to return to business centers the way we did pre-pandemic. 

As expected, retaliation from this return-to-office order is felt, especially with tech employees—baby boomers in tech industries like this arrangement of staying at home. In a survey conducted by Eden, a people operations software provider, 42 percent of baby boomers said they prefer remote work to the usual office arrangement. As for millennials and Gen Z correspondents, the choice is clear. Hybrid work is what 50 percent of millennials and 47 percent of Gen Zs want. 

 

The Return-to-Office Directive: Why Do Company Leaders Want Their Tech Employees Back? 

While this tech rebellion seems to be in full swing, executives are still eager to have their teams back to their workstations. The long and short story of it all is that leaders would rather be with whom they govern physically. Here are more detailed reasons why: 

  • Better productivity monitoring. Does the “away” status on Slack or Microsoft Teams mean you took a little longer in the bathroom or you went on a shopping spree? Also, with the onslaught of mouse clickers and keyboard activity manipulator apps, employers’ trust in their work-from-home employees has dwindled. While managers can employ monitoring apps like Hubstaff and ActivTrak, some still deem it better to see their teams in front of their computers. 

 

  • On-the-job training is needed, especially for newbies. While tech employees may have all the tools they need at home, like apps and online interfaces, nothing beats being in a professional environment, particularly for training. Also, with new applicants being onboarded, it just makes better sense to show them the ropes in-premises. 

 

  • Company culture is dying. The lack of face-to-face interaction has put a sentence on camaraderie and a sense of belonging that can only be achieved by being physically in the office. Also, the key factors of play, purpose, and potential, which help promote positive company culture, cannot be achieved if one is couped up in their home office, away from their colleagues. 

 

  • Resources are going to waste. The office and its resources were paid for but are not being used. Office chairs and tables, pantry appliances, internet subscriptions, and others: the money spent on these resources can already be considered losses. Thus, executives require employees to consume them. 

 

But Why Are Tech Employees Resistant to Return? 

Tech professionals particularly oppose letting go of the work-from-home arrangement because they saw its benefits during the pandemic. A good number of them enjoyed the comfort of being away from the prying eyes of their supervisors. The benefits of working from home include the following: 

  • Less daily costs. Gas money or transportation fare plus food costs throughout the day are expenses one avoids if they don’t go to the office. Also, those who have to rent apartments, so they’ll be closer to work, are now staying in their homes, saving a lot of bucks on monthly expenses like rent and electricity. 
  • Better time management. Travel takes a lot of time when going to the office. Whether one is taking public transportation or reaching the office for a typical nine-to-five workday is tiring. It can take a toll on one’s productivity. Also, at home, employees only have to log off from work and go straight to their beds and vice versa when clocking in for a new day. 
  • Productivity is better. Google actually made record profits during the pandemic. Many workers also argue that they hit their targets while at home, and the relaxed environment helped them stay focused and motivated to work toward progress. Some also point out that companies forcing employees back to the office will only do more harm than good in terms of morale. 

 

One Way to Solve the Tech Rebellion? Compromise. 

Sadly, tech employees who won’t get their way might resort to resigning altogether and looking for a company that allows a fully remote setup. On the other hand, organizations extending work-from-home arrangements might continue to worry about monitoring their employees and not putting office resources to waste. The best way is for executives and employees to find common ground that will work best for them. Some suggestions include the following: 

  • Hybrid work, with some days spent in the office and some at home  
  • Full work-from-home but will report to the office during company events
  • Full office work but less stringent rules on punctuality 

 

However, some conditions have to be met: 

  • Full use of monitoring apps. Since supervisors cannot be with you the entire time, monitoring apps will have to suffice. 
  • Stricter proof for attendance mishaps. Since it’s easy to feign sickness, medical certificates have to be mandatory evidence so that one will be paid for sick leave. 
  • Consistent achievement of company goals. Tech employees can prove to their bosses that remote work is effective by hitting productivity and revenue marks. However, if these numbers go down, they’ll have to give up the privilege of the remote setup. 
  • Mandatory attendance during key events. Company town halls, holiday celebrations, and other organization-wide events will no longer be celebrated virtually. It also makes up for lost time rubbing shoulders and getting to know new employees through company events. 

 

REVITALIZE YOUR WORKFORCE THROUGH FOCUS. 

Whether your work setup is online or in the physical office, if your organization’s environment is exceptional in building personal and professional growth, you’re on the right track in guiding your employees toward success. That is our goal here in Focus, and you can also benefit as we nurture integrity, honesty, and loyalty. Take part in our 25-year tradition of a strong team-based culture and a stellar reputation among our clients. Contact Focus today. 

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