Teleworking may no longer work

The challenges of teleworking are becoming harder and harder to ignore, as both employees and bosses struggle with the realities of indefinite separation from office.

The big picture: An increasing number of business leaders want to end the work from home revolution. But workers have become accustomed to flexibility, and they have the power to demand it.

Drives the news: Tesla boss Elon Musk touched the pot last week with a sharp warning that workers must spend “a minimum of 40 hours per week” in the office, or find a new job.

  • The question arose as to whether other employers could also take a tougher stance.
  • JPMorgan Chase̵[ads1]7;s Jamie Dimon only recently eased his stance on telework, and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has been on a mission to return to the 5-day status quo.
  • A March survey by the Cleaning Coalition of America, which surveyed more than 200 New York-based C-Suite executives, found that as many as 76% believe personal work is crucial to the bottom line.

With the numbers: 7.4% of US workers work remotely due to COVID, down from a pandemic time of around 35%, according to federal data.

Status: The convenience of hybrid work is dampened by the boundaries of virtual collaboration, which empirical data are now beginning to identify.

  • A study from the University of Chicago found that teleworkers worked longer hours but were less productive – effects that were especially pronounced among parents. Workers spent more time in meetings, the study found, but lost important face time with their leaders.
  • A September 2021 study of Microsoft workers found that the software giant’s business units became “less interconnected” over time, and that an over-reliance on email and messaging made it “more difficult for workers to communicate and / or converge on the importance of complex information.”
  • And a Webex study published last month found high levels of “meeting fatigue” among external workers.

What they say“Hybrid work and video conferencing are the new norm, and companies need to provide employees with the best technology to reduce meeting fatigue and minimize negative physical consequences, while taking steps to improve collaboration practices and reduce meeting congestion,” the authors of the Webex study wrote.

Yes but: No matter how wrong it is, teleworking has become a mainstay of a covid-era labor market defined by high employee turnover.

  • For many knowledge workers in an economy with more open jobs than workers to fill them, WFH is more de rigueur than ever before.
  • Even when they have done it unenthusiasticly, several employers have adopted flexible work from home schemes.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that Zoom and Google Chat are not substitutes for personal dynamics that bridge communication gaps and help build careers.

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