This quarter’s Future Forum Pulse report had a couple of eye-opening results.
Future Forum is a consortium founded by Slack to research and advise on the future of work. Each quarter they survey more than 10,000 knowledge workers in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.
Whilst the report’s findings generally matched observed trends in remote work, some of the specific numbers illustrated the scale of the change the workplace is going through (and the challenges).
The whole report is an interesting read but we wanted to highlight two dynamics in particular.
An astonishing 66% of executives reported that they were designing post-pandemic workforce policies with little to no direct input from employees.
Given that one of the key pieces of advice for getting remote/hybrid work right for your corporate culture is to talk to your employees, this is staggering.
For many firms, this situation will be a train wreck. Particularly because, as the survey also showed, executives and employees are way apart on how they think about this issue.
“Of those currently working fully remotely, nearly half of all executives surveyed (44%) want to work from the office every day, compared to 17% of employees (2.6x difference). And 75% of these executives say they want to work from the office three to five days a week, versus only 34% of employees.”
A significant number of executives appear to be designing policies without speaking to their employees, based on assumptions which are out of step with the majority of their workforce. Oh and they’re also communicating them badly.
‘Two out of every three executives (66%) believe they’re being “very transparent” regarding their post-pandemic remote-working policies. Less than half of workers (42%) agree.’
If that sounds like it could be an issue in a competitive hiring market where employees are assessing their employment options again after two years of reconsidering their pandemic-blighted working lives, trust your instincts.
In short, if you don’t know your team’s preferences on remote work, although the best time to start asking was a year ago, the second best time is still now.
The last eighteen months have exposed the office as not so much the ‘best place to work’ just ‘the best place to work for some people, often white men.’
The report concludes that flexibility around where and when people work improves the working experience for everyone, but particularly underrepresented and historically marginalised populations.
The impact on Black knowledge workers has been especially stark.
“Over the last 12 months, the share of Black respondents agreeing with the statement “I value the relationship I have with my co workers” has risen from 48% to 76%. The share of Black respondents agreeing with the statement “I am treated fairly at work” has risen from 47% to 73%. And the share of Black respondents agreeing with the statement “Management is supportive” has risen from 43% to 75%.”
The report concludes that the shift to virtual communication removed options for exclusive in-office chatter and ‘levelled the playing field’ in terms of both transparency and frequency of communication, making more people feel they belonged.
Any boss committed to both ‘getting back to the office’ and ‘[Insert corporate boilerplate diversity commitment here]’ has some work to do to make those align.
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We’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask your managers and team members to identify the challenges they face, and help you pick the right solutions.