Return to work (RTO) mandates – FYI – only in HR would we make an acronym for something as benign as returning to the office after a pandemic – continue to blow up in corporation’s faces. Turns out, if you’re paying people to work at home or work from anywhere they want, coming back to an office, for many, feels like punishment.
For the most part, executives have figured out it’s probably going to be some sort of hybrid approach for almost everyone. The ones where this gets really bad is when the “hybrid” approach is you come to the office most of the time, and we’ll think about giving you some flexibility. Or those work environments that had some fully remote workers who are now being asked to grace us with their presence every so often, and they are losing their shit over that.
The problem is RTO. Executives really could care less and don’t buy into the idea that this is all a commercial real estate problem. The only thing your company cares about is performance and making money. If putting you on the moon made them more successful, pack your bags and a space suit, honey, and get ready to blast off! Your company would rather pay for an empty building and have exceptional performance than have you return to the office and be flat.
Where HR and Leadership are failing with RTO aren’t the mandates. It’s that they never should have talked about RTO to begin with. All they had to do was start firing low performers. This isn’t a remote vs. in-office debate. This is because we think you suck working at home and you’re not performing, so we want to see your butt in a cube and see if you’re actually working. That is broken.
I tell my team, and I will continue to tell my team, I don’t care where you are or how many hours you work. If you perform and meet goals, we are good. Once you decide not to meet goals, then it’s my job to figure out how to help you meet those goals, which might mean we need to find an environment where you can do your best work. If we can not find an environment where you can be successful, you probably aren’t right for this role.
This isn’t hard, but we are trying to make it hard because we are soft, non-confrontational weenies.
If there isn’t a real reason that an employee needs to be at a certain location, why make them? Well, because we are making others. Why? Well, because we aren’t performing as a company. That’s a performance issue, not a location issue. But it might be a location issue for some people who are not performing. Your job as a leader and executive is to figure that out.
You don’t have an issue with your highest-performing employees having flexibility and freedom. You have an issue that your lowest-performing employees seem to love “working” at home or having extra flexibility, but they are failing.
I think we are all tired of talking about RTO. This has nothing to do with where and when we work. It has everything to do with performing at a high level. The most competitive companies won’t offer remote, hybrid, or on-prem. They’ll offer crystal clear performance objectives and a mandate that you meet those objectives the best way you can!
This is about returning to work. This is about getting back to work and doing the work you’re getting paid for.