We have to stop focusing on the “right now” and prepare for what’s happening in the next six months (and beyond). The Pandemic has created this immediate mentality from people that the situation we’re in now is the only thing we should care about, and it’ll be the same unto perpetuity. We need to break out of this mindset and accept we’re in a temporary bubble… and the real world will quickly emerge in the coming months. Let’s prepare for that world, not the current one, folks.
With all the current panic about job-hopping and attrition, we need to consider we’re in a temporary situation, where people have become burned out, and sometimes groping for the shiny and new is just so much easier than fixing the old. Let’s consider why…
It’s become abundantly clear that many businesses simply cannot function in a remote model. It can work for a short period, but ultimately creativity comes from a collective group of people being together physically. Operations can keep cranking remotely, but for people to learn from each other, develop their relationships and lock heads to come up with ideas. They need to be together physically.
Swapping one cocoon for another is immediate gratification. I believe the current “Great Resignation” is a direct result of people stuck at home staring at a PC screen, desperate for some attention, fed up after 20 months of incarceration in their comfy cocoons. Sure, they can always claim a pay rise and a new challenge excited them, but I believe the reason for most is the ease of hopping jobs in a talent-starved economy, where a Zoom call or two is all you need to make the switch. It’s just so easy in this bubble… merely swap one cocoon for what seems like an even nicer one.
It’s an attrition bubble. Attrition in knowledge jobs – those requiring IT or business process domain knowledge – has been spiky, but it’s temporary and over-blown. Attrition levels in IT and business process services (for example) are now remarkably similar to pre-pandemic levels. The current exodus is more a result of 20 months of a temporary economic boom, pandemic, and employee fatigue than any permanent trend. As the Pandemic recedes in the spring of 2022 we will see people-centric industries quickly stabilize.
In-person work will come roaring back. Regardless of your new normal model – remote-first, hybrid, or in-person – every enterprise must respect and support the value of physicality. People still need physical interaction, education, and collaboration to learn and develop. Whatever your model, it must include a physical element and it must be thoughtfully constructed to ensure desired results. The physicality must be purposeful. For example, most call centers across the globe are already back up to capacity, all the Indian-heritage IT service providers will have their facilities back to capacity at the beginning of next year, and many financial services institutions are always back to in-office work – as this is the only way they know how to function. Talent at scale is still a brilliant thing to drive a business forward.
There are notable variations by industry and region. Industries that depend on people collaborating en-masse are already bouncing back to physical environments, or have imminent plans do to so. Work cultures that were very people-driven will bounce back almost 100% and are already on that track (China, India, others). Geos experiencing very / unrealistic high wage inflation will go through a correction when the economy stabilizes / levels off as the Pandemic recedes (i.e. US, India)
Bottom-Line: The pursuit of being perpetually remote is unrealistic
While there is a current huge focus on creating work environments to sustain remote working, it’s unrealistic to think in-person work is eradicated. The new normal may be more hybrid in terms of physical location, but enterprises and employees have to focus on motivating, educating, and helping create employees that are great to work with Jumping jobs is not a long-term solution to burnout and boredom. Neither is the red herring of “remote work” as some new productivity miracle.