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employee feeling isolated

Aug 19, 2022

Disenfranchised?

By:Dylan Ratigan

Five years ago most of us couldn’t imagine a world in which we all worked remote all the time. A pandemic has a way of changing things. Two and a half years since we first heard the word, covid, our world has changed, including how we work. But has it been a change for the better?

Our homes morphed from places where we go after work to places where we work. There have been pluses and minuses to that. For workers, the lack of commute times, what we wear during the day and the ability to get household tasks done are just a few positives. However, the lack of collaboration, drop in creativity and overall productivity are undeniable.

Companies want employees back. Employees, having gained power in terms of when and where they work, are reluctant to give up that leverage. Forcing employees back in the office can risk losing talent. Allowing employees to remain remote can make managing workers tough. It’s creating a fissure with no easy solution.

This period in time is eventually going to be seen as a revolution. In the 1900s, it was the Industrial Revolution. At the end of the 20th century, it was the Internet Revolution. And this will eventually come to be seen as a worker revolution that set the tone for years to come.

Beneath the debate of productivity and flexibility is a bigger issue. Happy workers with a sense of purpose are more engaged. They are more productive. Whether they are in an office or on a couch, the location is irrelevant if they have a sense of purpose. People will seek out ways of engaging if they believe in what they are doing. The obstacles of collaboration are not insurmountable when workers feel their work matters. Therefore, it is not an issue of being in the office or being remote. Rather, it’s an issue of purpose.

We can debate the cost of having people work remotely. We can wax poetic about being in an office and the collaboration it creates. Likewise, we can point out that people tend to work more hours when they work from home. The ability to set one’s own schedule often means when people work, they work more efficiently. But all this misses the point of purpose.

In every other aspect of life, we seek purpose. Whether it’s as parents, a partner to a significant other, part of a sports team or member of a club, we are a species in need of both belonging and appreciation. When we belong and when our presence is appreciated, we are motivated. Bringing people back into an office for the sake of bringing people back into an office will not change productivity. In fact, it may have the opposite effect. Allowing people to work from home without acknowledging their efforts and output can have a similar effect of disengagement.

The bottom line and point being made is, the location is not what leads to productivity. Rather, it’s a question of what are we trying to accomplish. If businesses can articulate that and employees will buy into it, the productivity will take care of itself.

Get into the debate, check out this week's Truth or Skepticism:  "The Threat of Disengagement"


Special Project's Editor Josh Fabian contributed to this article.



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