I’m assuming by now a majority of business individuals have read the article that came out regarding Elon Musk’s opinion on “coddling your employees”.
Musk, the CEO of Tesla, is getting hot on social media after sending an email to Tesla employees demanding that they work at least 40 hours per week in-office as a result of his antics this year. Tesla began the year at $1,200 per share and now sits around $740 per share, largely due to Musk’s antics.
With our society becoming increasingly reliant upon working from home, it is obvious that Musk’s email has not gone over well. Specifically, he argued, if you work at a higher level at the company, you should be “visible.” Apple, Microsoft, Meta, and Google are some of the tech companies figuring out how to work in a post-COVID world. Most have announced, retracted, or adjusted their plans in the last year.
In the event that Musk does close his deal to purchase Twitter, the company will also have to figure out what its back-to-work model looks like. But it’s pretty obvious what Musk will do if he closes that deal. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before other bosses start using Musk as a reason to bring WFH employees back whether they like it or not.
WHY WE SHOULD BE GETTING BACK INTO THE OFFICE LIKE PRE-COVID
Since we started working remotely, our connection has slowed down. We found that remote workers are 7% less likely to see their connection to the company’s mission. When you’re working in a room with actual people, looking at a laptop screen with six other faces is less spontaneous, less human, and less transactional.
HOW RETURNING TO THE OFFICE CAN REINVIGORATE YOUR CULTURE
Hybrid offices have the potential to lead to greater collaboration and human connection among workers, regardless of whether they are on-site, remote, full-time, contract, or gig workers. Consider how each of these factors can strengthen employee relationships to begin with.
Physical Space: Your job will be to redesign desks, collaborative spaces, meeting rooms, and amenities (people will use the coffee station differently and the gym in a different way). Involve employees in redesigning the site since they completed a graduate course last year on collaborative design.
Technology: Invest in personal and collaboration technologies that serve people as well as productivity by developing new types of partnerships among business functions, HR teams, and technology departments.
Culture: You survived the pandemic because of your human qualities. Despite the importance of celebrating performance, we also need to celebrate what ties us together: kindness, dedication, integrity, resilience, collaboration, courage, and even love. Praise, recognize, and appreciate your coworkers’ creativity, adaptability, resilience, and selflessness. To see each other as valued individuals and to live our company’s values, we must give everyone in our organization the means to do so.
Data: Provide measures of how and what people are doing with data capabilities. It has been noted that language used in Recognition Data—generated from more than 50 million instances of gratitude from a pool of more than 5 million employees—can uncover unconscious bias, allowing people leaders to identify previously unseen inequities. Using artificial intelligence and advanced analytics, we can now discover so much. You should experiment and measure the results in business terms and human terms because these two things are inseparable in today’s world.
The absence of shared workplaces is too uncertain at present (in public health, in the economy) for us to predict when we’ll go back, but the advantages of human connection at work are so great that this will happen in some new, inventive form.
It would be premature to write an obituary for the office. Our workplaces and work cultures can be reinvented in 2022 by incorporating what we’ve learned in 2020 and 2021.