“Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week. Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo-office. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”
Elon Musk’s announcement to his employees at Tesla, as well as SpaceX, comes as many other businesses are wrestling with their return-to-office plans, including whether they will return to offices at all. While a few organizations planned return-to-office dates over the past several months, many of those dates came and went as COVID-19 cases increased and employers had to push back those dates. Instead, remote and hybrid policies have become widely accepted more than two years after they started in response to the pandemic.
Hybrid Work @ FIELDBOSS
At FIELDBOSS, management is still struggling to figure out what hybrid work means for our staff, our customers, and our organization. For what we expect of staff, we are "going with the flow" right now.
For us, the return to the office has been slow. Before the pandemic, about 2/3 of the staff came in 2-4 days per week. After the pandemic, about 1/3 come into the office at least one day per week. There are many reasons for that, with the primary one being that most people want to swap the commute time and stress for workplace productivity and anything else that is important in their lives.
It is clear to us that employees have been equally or more responsible and productive working remotely. Staff placed a high value on schedule autonomy and flexibility as they settled in on new routines at home. For our staff, flexibility ranks as high as compensation in terms of employment priorities.
Where Does Management Stand?
Management believes that employees can maintain high satisfaction, engagement, and productivity within hybrid or fully remote workplace models. On the other hand, management also feels that working from home using remote technologies does not deliver the moments of learning, mentoring, idea exchange, collaboration, and cultural engagement. Accordingly, we try to bring staff into the office as a team and we all just work around a giant table. Lunch is brought in communal style. It might not be as productive as working from home, but you leave the office at the end of the day feeling more connected to peers and the business.
The desire to work from the office ranges by staff member. Certain roles are better suited to mostly or fully remote. Staff preferences also can change based on factors such as life events, commute time, lifestyle, and stage of career.
We used the pandemic lock down to renovate our office. After 20 years it needed it. We disposed of the cubicles and built more individual offices. We also enlarged and spruced up our meeting areas, added a gym, some cool artwork, standing desks and other improvements.
After Labour Day, we are going to experiment with the frequency that certain roles who work together come into the office on the same days. For example, the sales and marketing teams will come in together as will the consulting and engineering teams. We will start small, maybe one day per month for the larger gatherings, and we will schedule specific goals for those days, so staff feel like they are making progress as a collective.
The New Normal
The best thing we can do as business owners is to be open to discussion; listen, be flexible, and experiment, because given the new realities of hybrid work, it is easy to assume that office work has changed forever.