Ever since the Covid pandemic hit the world and in India, companies that never even considered working from home once a month went into a completely online mode of working. Employers and clients who were reluctant to let their teams work remotely suddenly had to accept and adapt to the new changes being followed worldwide. Some companies, who always found it hard to fathom how the others would allow their employees to work from home without any real reason, we’re doing the same thing now, except this time there was an actual pandemic, and extraordinary situations demanded extraordinary decisions. With the pandemic subsiding, many organisations are ready to return to full-time work after almost two years. There is an expectation from employers toward their employees that the latter will return to the workplace for a full-fledged work environment.
However, what is going on in the minds of young employees is far away from the expectation of the employers. A study conducted by ADP Research Institute, titled ‘People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View’ has reported that around 71% of employees who are between the age range of 18 and 24 years, and 66% of employees in the age range of 25 to 34 years have stated that they would instead look for another job, than return to the workplace fulltime, should their employers insist such a suggestion.
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Some organisations have been gradually opening their offices since the pandemic, but the report has revealed that employees are not interested in returning to the workplace daily. This feeling has been more unique to younger employees than older colleagues. Employers have been trying to encourage the staff to return to the office space, but the reluctance of younger employees to do so has been very evident. However, these sentiments are not limited to just the younger employees. Around 56% of employees in the age bracket of 45-54 also feel the same.
When the numbers are combined, an overall 64% of employees that make up about two-thirds of the workforce around the globe would not be far from considering going through a job hunt in case their employees made it mandatory to come to the office premises each day, as was traditionally expected.
While that is the global percentage, in India, about 76.38% of the working force who were interviewed stated that if such a demand was made, they would consider quitting as an option. This report is the result of a survey conducted with 32,924 employees across 17 countries, of which 1600 were from India. It was carried out between November 1 and 24 in the year 2021. These employees also felt that they worked very well during the pandemic, either from home or from other remote locations, and collaborated the way they were supposed to with their team members and clients. This makes them feel there is no reason to be asked to move back into the office, which is acting as a reason for them to consider finding another job that allows them to continue working remotely.
With lockdowns being eased, workers have been worried if employers will demand a return to the office, and this demand can be an essential factor in their resolution to leave. The above report has, however, contradicted specific reports that stated that the younger workforce wants to return to the office to advance in social and career-related positions.
Rahul Goyal, the current MD at ADP India, feels that it is essential for young employees to be in the company and presence of their superiors and peers as it will help them gain that extra experience. It will also give them a chance to grow their network very early in their careers; hence, new ways have to be found that can encourage them to come back to an in-person and physical work environment. Once these young employees are engaged in a physical office space, many lost skills and confidence will be built. This will also help teams and individual employees to make better decisions, have a connected internal culture and improve levels of loyalty and trust between the employer and employee.
Employers will have to identify the main reasons employees do not wish to return to the workplace. While health concerns could be the reason for some, others may have found the perfect situation where they work from their remote hometowns, surrounded by the comfort of their families and childhood friends. Urban rental rates and expensive living in cities may also be a deciding factor for some, while for others, it could be a change in circumstance within their family as well as a possibility of a side hustle.
However, one thing is sure. Most employees feel there is no need for them to be physically present in the office. While most have rightly proved so by performing just as well or even better when working remotely, the employer can no longer use an argument about the client being uncomfortable with remote workers. Remote working has also proved to involve a low level of engagement between employees and employers, resulting in a lower level of attachment between the two. Keeping that in mind, if ultimatums are made for employees to return to work physically, it will be relatively easy for the worker not to comply and change the company the day it gets too uncomfortable here.
Reference: Younger workers most reluctant to return to the workplace full-time: Survey|The Economic Times/The ET Bureau|Brinda Sarkar|June 14, 2022
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