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Shirking From Home

Even ZOOM is calling for Return to Office

Shirking From Home

By: Ross Paterson
The final blog in our four-part series on the Remote/Hybrid/Return-To-Office dilemma. Click here to catch up on the last one.
The real battle of the 2020s won’t look like a 20th-century conflict between unions and corporations. It will be a much broader battle of employees who want the freedom to work from anywhere, and leadership teams battling for productivity and growth in the VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous).
As we have dug through the newest research and audited our clients on these topics in the last month, we still haven’t found anything to dispute the truth we stated in Blog 2 on this topic.
XM Truth: The science and psychology of team performance overwhelmingly favors humans being in close proximity to each other.
Disney, Google, Meta, Apple, and hundreds of other huge firms are instituting broad policy changes for employees to Return to Office (RTO). Just this week ZOOM has called for their workers to RTO. Why? “Worker productivity has been plummeting for five straight quarters for the first time since World War 2” Alan Murray, CEO Fortune.
  1. Recent research by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy and Research shows that fully remote workers are 10-20% lower in productivity than in-person workers.
  2. Fully remote is a terrible experience for most new hires and junior employees. A Paychex Survey discovered that 80% of new hires will quit if they have a poor onboarding experience.
  3. Blurred lines between home life and work life are also causing spikes in stress, negatively affecting the mental and physical health of remote employees.


On the flip side, fully flexible workers who self-assessed their own productivity on how they feel while working believe they are 29% MORE productive.

Like the great consulting giants, we have given you conflicting data without a definitive answer. We can be better than that. To keep ‘working-from-home’ from becoming ‘shirking-from-home’, front-line leaders must be coached/trained on taking great care of the humans on their teams. The best remote teams often have a highly skilled leader assigned to the role of “Chief of Work.” This leader’s role includes onboarding, employee engagement, culture champion, maintaining morale, project flow/momentum, and recognition.

Bottom line, Leadership really matters when building effective remote teams. Most leaders in the SMB space have had little or no training in leadership and coaching. Shirking will outweigh working, and turnover will be high if this doesn’t change.

Our upcoming Managers to Leaders Workshop trains front-line leaders on how to create a productive environment capable of conquering the learning curves of remote work.