The debate of where and when to get our jobs done has become the biggest workplace debate of our times.
It is a good measure of the power of workers and bosses.
When it comes to office politics, the management is in a very weak position.
There are many jobs out there for knowledge workers who don’t like how they are treated. It is true that workers don’t leave bad jobs for bad managers.
The last two years have taught many knowledge workers that they can be efficient and have a better work-life balance with more remote working, even if their micro-managing managers have struggled with the idea.
It is harder for companies to enforce their return-to-office mandates because of the hot job market and the enthusiasm for remote work.
For anyone who joined a company in the last couple of years, remote or hybrid working is the only type of work they’ve ever known. The new normal for middle managers is hybrid and remote work.
That doesn’t mean that things can’t change again. And swift.
The economy is likely to dip into difficult territory soon if many indicators are correct.
The point at which the relative power of employers and employees will start to shift again. It might be closer than people think.
Even in a strong market, there may already be less work from home jobs for developers. Some bosses have given their staff ultimatums to get back to work. Workers think they are great at working from home, but they aren’t sure about how hard their colleagues are working.
There will be some differences to this. It could be that a worsening economic outlook convinces some organizations to downsize or get rid of their expensive offices and switch to remote or hybrid work.
It’s possible that bosses feel that they have a better bargaining position and can force staff back to the office in a tough economic climate.
It’s possible that the return-to-the-office plans that were put on hold will make a comeback.
It’s probably the wrong way to approach it if managers really want people back in the office.
It’s better to explain a policy. There are lots of things that are better in the office. A good proportion of staff can benefit from being around their peers, particularly those at the earlier end of their career, who can benefit from mentoring and networking.
Bosses should explain why they think their plan is better, and back that up with evidence and data. Even though the economic outlook is not good, they can still build on their plans for office work. This is a debate that is going to go on and on, expect twists and turns.
ZDNET’S MONDAY OPENER
The opening take on the week in tech was written by members of our editorial team.