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The ever changing world of work offers a menu board of options

One of the big topics to consider is the shifting work landscape, so let’s review some of the latest details.

Here’s a new angle — to prevent out of sight, out of mind remote workers, Synchrony Bank is telling employees they aren’t allowed in the office more than four days a week.  

There’s a disconnect between how much workers want to work from home — 46% of the time (so about 2.5 out of five days a week) — and what employers are offering them (21.3% of the time, so about one day a week), says Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford economist, based on his research.

It’s a challenge too.  Half (53.4%) of IT professionals say the ongoing management of remote and hybrid workers is one of their biggest challenges, according to a JumpCloud survey of SME IT decision-makers.  

Those professionals are going to be on the move.   Less than a third of tech workers plan to stay in their current role — A survey of 1,000 technology workers and 500 IT decision makers by careers platform CWJobs found that just 29% of employees intend on staying with their current employer for the next 12 months, with the majority planning to make career or lifestyle changes as life opens up again.

CWJob’s research found that 14% of tech workers would look for a new role at a different company, with others planning to establish their own business (11%), go part-time (11%), change locations (11%) or become a contractor (10%). Eight percent are contemplating leaving tech altogether.

Companies are coming up with creative ideas.     Some have started giving the same day or week off. LinkedIn gave it’s staff a week in April, and Bumble did that in June.  Hootsuite has a week off planned in July, and Bristol-Myers Squibb gave its employees two days of rest.  

Others are considering changing the schedule.   The pandemic spotlighted working parents’ tough job of juggling work and child care, and one idea is to shorten workdays themselves to align with the school day’s 3pm end time, Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, writes in the Economist.

Or maybe go to the four day work week.  There are 4.5 times as many ZipRecruiter job postings mentioning four-day workweeks now as there were in 2016, reports Bloomberg. But they only comprise 0.6% of all postings, so it’s a small but growing trend.  

And out of Iceland… the four day work week is “an overwhelming success”.  The Reykjavík City Council and the national government tried it, and found productivity remained the same.     And now 86% of Iceland’s workforce have either moved to shorter hours for the same pay, or will gain the right to, the researchers said.   Workers reported feeling less stressed and at risk of burnout, and said their health and work-life balance had improved. They also reported having more time to spend with their families, do hobbies and complete household chores.

All of these changes and experiments are being done in a US job labor market that has not regained the pre-recession level of employment, per the Labor department.  

Lest we think it’s all about things changing.. Google has restarted their shuttle busses and their free-food cafeteria.    So some things are going back to the way they were.  

Why do we care?

This is a bit of a menu board of potential ways to consider reforming the way you work.     How much time in the office?  Out of it?  How many days are you open?   When are you open?   How will you support workers?

Before becoming overwhelmed, remember that this is potentially a competitive advantage in a market where the worker holds the power.     The labor market is tight, and employees have options, and salary is not the only portion of a compensation plan.      Free meals may have been enough before – and now they may just be an expectation.      

There’s no single answer here – and that’s the actual opportunity.  Everyone is looking for “the” answer… when the answer is what works best for your organization and the kind of culture you want to build.    Now you assemble that from the available options.    I’ll have a side of fries with that.