Remote Work and Power Dynamics

I keep hearing companies and leaders crowing that:

  • The Great Resignation is over.

  • The recession will force employees to stay put and suck it up.

  • That “remote work” thing is over, too.

  • They can now force people back into the office.

My takeaway from this?

  • Companies are dreadfully worried about the sunk cost of their multi-million dollar campuses (or even multi-billion dollar ones).

  • Employers don’t like losing power and want control over how they treat employees.

  • Employers love it when employees feel stuck and can’t quit their jobs to take new ones.

  • Ineffective leaders and managers haven’t figured out how to add value and lead without walking around physical cubicles and desks.

  • Poor leaders don’t trust their employees to work hard, despite all the evidence that productivity is high and people are working even harder at home.

Remote work rebalances old power dynamics

  • Smart companies can now hire great people anywhere in the world without forcing relocation. You’re no longer limited to your local talent pool or people who want to give up their lives and move to your city.

  • Great people can now work for any company in the world without giving up their improved work-life harmony and a better lifestyle. You can get your time back from commuting and silly time wasters at work (e.g., does anyone really need more in-office birthday parties and cake?).

This all puts more power into the hands of employees. They don’t need to put up with poor treatment when they can take a job with any company in the world and keep working at home.

Changing jobs used to be massively disruptive. I know. I moved across the country for more than one job. Now, you can be working with a whole new team in days with no change of scene.

It terrifies some people in some companies who want to retain command and control. So, they cling to the old ways and hope the balance of power remains in their hands.

Good luck with that!

When enlightened employers are willing to partner with employees, provide flexible working arrangements, and encourage them to live healthier lives, they will steal your talent away.

I’m here for it.

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