As many employers push for workers to return to the office with new COVID-19 infections contained and vaccinations widely available, many workers would rather continue working from home (WFH) for the long term.
And both internally and externally, some are pushing back — and sparking a heated debate about the future of work.
“I find it interesting (stupid) how WFH was considered a "vital necessity" to keep companies afloat last year...But now that companies want people back in the office – fully remote work is being treated like a recruiting perk or bonus,” Lauren Pope, who works at Oracle, recently wrote on LinkedIn.
Pope’s comment hit a nerve and promptly went viral, gathering over thirteen thousand likes and hundreds of comments on the networking platform. While some agree with her, others called her out.
“This is a really entitled perspective. You can believe you kept their business afloat, but they also kept your household afloat by keeping you employed during a time when many businesses screeched to a halt,” wrote Natalie Austin, an EHR marketing manager at Remarkable Health.
“If an organization prefers the collaboration that an in-office setting offers, they have a right to require employees to be at work when it’s ‘safe.’ If you don’t like it, find a different job,” she added.
Employers 'a lot less excited' about WFH
Pope’s post underscored a growing worker-employer divide that was captured in LinkedIn’s new Workforce Confidence survey. The data revealed that while many workers would prefer to continue to have the option to work from home in the fall, employers’ reactions are mixed.
“We asked people in 20 different industries, ‘what are you hearing from your boss about work from home?” said George Anders, LinkedIn’s Workforce Insight Columnist.
“And what we found is in industries like software, close to half the respondents are saying ‘we can do it. We’ve got the green light. Our boss is saying it’s okay,” Anders said.
Still, “that’s not true in every industry, and there’s some that are a lot less excited about letting everyone work from home,” he added.
Meanwhile, major Wall Street banks like Morgan Stanley (MS) and Goldman Sachs (GS) have demanded that their workers return to the office. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman set Labor Day as a firm deadline for employees in New York City.
“I’ll be very disappointed if people haven’t found their way into the office — and then we’ll have a different kind of conversation,” he said in June.
Yet Anders warns that Gorman “may need to brace himself for some disappointment” as workers resist coming back.
“It may be that the top gun Wall Street traders and investment bankers are going back to the office, but when you think about the totality of finance, 40% of employers are saying ‘you can work at home,” according to Anders. Those other jobs include mortgage processing and insurance, he added.
“So he’s taking a brave stand now, but I would be interested in what he’s going to say six months from now,” he said.
Workers in public administration were the least likely to be allowed to keep working from home in the long term according to LinkedIn, which cited “unique governmental concerns about matters such as security clearances and legally mandated confidentiality” as potential impediments.
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