Is Remote Work a Liability? Why Some Companies Think So

In the wake of the pandemic, remote work became the norm for millions of employees globally. Many companies welcomed the flexibility that remote work offered and looked at it as a way to attract and retain top talent. However, some companies are now having second thoughts about remote work, raising tensions between them and their employees. In his latest column, WSJ columnist Callum Borchers examines why some companies now consider remote work a liability.

Demand for Remote Work Remains High

Despite many companies shifting back to in-person work, demand for remote work among employees remains high. Employees have gotten used to the convenience that comes with remote work, such as saving time and money on commuting and parking. Additionally, remote work has allowed employees to balance their work and personal lives better.

Companies Sour on Remote Work

Although companies initially touted remote work as a way to recruit top talent from all over the world, some have now changed their stance. The current labor market is starting to cool off, and many companies are no longer in the same growth mode they were six months or a year ago. Instead, they are now focused on efficiency.

Dealing with Redrawing of Work Rules

Companies that are redrawing their work rules are getting pushback from their employees. Employees are reluctant to give up the flexibility that remote work offers. For instance, when Alan Jones, the CEO of an HR company in LA called Bambi, recently gathered his team and told them he was inclined to bring them all back to the office five days a week, the team was up in arms. They did not like the idea.

The Solution for Companies

Some companies have resorted to adopting hybrid schedules where employees come into the office two or three days a week and work from home the rest of the time. The CEO of Bambi, for example, has agreed to a three-day workweek in the office and two work from home days, with a third work from home day during summer, as long as productivity does not drop off.

Effort is Key to Remote Work Success

Some managers have cited a lack of effort as a reason for the decline in productivity during remote work. Employees are not giving maximum effort, especially now that the global crisis is not as acute as it was at the height of the pandemic. Managers believe that remote work worked best in the early stages of the pandemic when there was a sense of crisis that everyone could rally around.

The Bottom Line

Remote work has proven to be a blessing for many employees, but some companies are starting to see it as a liability. As companies shift back to in-person work, tensions are rising between them and their employees. Companies must figure out a way to balance the need for productivity and efficiency with their employees’ need for flexibility.