With an economic downturn looming, there are a lot of people nervous about how things will play out. Will it result in job loss? Temporary layoffs? Will companies put a halt to recruiting until things start to recover?
There is also a lot of concern about how a recession will affect the way companies operate. Obviously, budgeting is the first thing that comes to mind. Lean operations are the norm when the economy is slow. One thing that people are also questioning is if a downturn will change how companies view workplace flexibility. Will companies change their view on remote and hybrid work models?
Our executive search experts in Toronto offer up some potential outcomes and impacts of a slower economy on workplace flexibility.
Executives are reverting to old practices
A potential economic setback has many executives feeling pressure. According to a recent survey from Future Forum, this has caused many senior executives to make an abrupt switch in how they feel about workplace flexibility. Many are reverting to old habits. Why?
With so much on the line, many want to have more control over operations. “Executives are saying things like ‘I need my finger on the pulse of the organization’—otherwise known as monitoring people in the office,” says Brian Elliot.
However, these actions are contrary to what the data suggests.
The survey found that “workers who have full flexibility with their schedules say they are 29% more productive and 53% more able to focus than those who have no schedule flexibility.”
Remote workers also have a more positive view of company culture:
“Remote and hybrid workers were 52% more likely to say company culture has improved over the past two years, compared with those who work onsite daily, even though 25% of executives said ‘team culture is negatively impacted by not being together in the office.”
The desire for executives to have people in the office could be creating a divide that can actually do more harm than the recession in the long term. The survey “found that 60% of executives surveyed said they are designing policies with little direct input from employees… that could lead organizations to be less competitive when it comes to recruiting talented employees.”
Even though we’ve seen a lot of stories in the news about company executives requiring staff to come back to the office (with Elon Musk leading the charge), how the economic downturn will affect workplace flexibility is still yet to be determined.
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