Why companies want employees back in the office

Hanno Labuschagne

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Why companies want employees back in the office

Many of the world’s top companies, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs, want employees to return to the office.

Tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google are also inviting employees who have been vaccinated back to their desks.

South Africa is no different. A recent Digital Corporation in South Africa 2021 research study conducted by World Wide Worx revealed that 64% of South African enterprises expect all staff to make a full return to the workplace.
 

Hemi300c

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Slow delivery service
People not working
People who become complacent and lazy
 

Corelli

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Honestly and let me say honestly, its a load of hogwash. And why?

Many a company including many in South Africa dont actually build Knowledge Warehouses, and so they want the one to learn from another, but yet no knowledge is really kept. For 20 years I built AI into one of the biggest knowledge systems with IBM while working for a local company, where even the training teams didnt see the need to keep knowledge.

1. When a person leaves, they dont actually capture what they learnt
2. They dont really make shareable notes based on the systems they worked on.
3. Trainers only like to teach people about manuals they found a copy of

In all honesty, if you have a system of knowledge management you have a quick searchable guide where any staff tackling a new project can see who worked on similar projects an what they learnt. They can see the list of suppliers, the project team and they can check in with them. They can find out where there were problems and how it was overcome. The learning curve is reduced drastically, and other staff are encouraged to help too.

For new staff coming in, you can train them faster, and they have access to more knowledge from the get go.

If you have a system of proper knowledge management we wouldnt need to worry as much when staff leave for other companies, or if they retire. You have access to all that info with a quick search functionality.

If you did that, almost no one would need to go back to work, and people can multitask across multiple projects at home.

But then again I used the past 20 years to input that into IBM AI machines that can now search through millions of records and learn from millions of case studies how to cure cancer for various people. Way more rewarding than my company that never believed in it once. They actually celebrated turning it off, right there with screeen scraping, only to discover they have to pay millions on robotic systems that does exactly what the screen scraping systems did for them before - free.

Welcome to the new era.

You have to learn from your old staff, to get your new AI systems working going forward.
 

Corelli

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But the real reason? Many of these companies spent millions and hundreds of millions on fancy offices, desks, etc where it looks cool for their staff to work. Some even charge their staff parking. And now with the staff working from home, they loose out on it. Actually it saves them electricity, water, coffee, etc But heck, we loose out on building costs and charging our staff for parking.
 

DA-LION-619

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Honestly and let me say honestly, its a load of hogwash. And why?

Many a company including many in South Africa dont actually build Knowledge Warehouses,
I think you covered a similar aspect before, that if edocuments became a thing, a lot of admin staff would be without work to do.

But the real reason? Many of these companies spent millions and hundreds of millions on fancy offices, desks, etc where it looks cool for their staff to work. Some even charge their staff parking. And now with the staff working from home, they loose out on it. Actually it saves them electricity, water, coffee, etc But heck, we loose out on building costs and charging our staff for parking.
Also can’t get out of some leases, unless maybe the building burns down…
 

SilverCode

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Really? Its the opposite where I work. Everyone is working twice as much with wfh.

Yes ‘working’. Without measuring metrics that matter, it’s just a guessing game.
There is far more at our office that prevents us from getting work done. People constantly just walking up to your desk and asking for help or information or something that would be a far better request as an email or IM where it can be dealt with when it doesn't interrupt the persons concentration. That is the beauty of working at home. When I am "in the zone" there is no one to break me out of it like there is constantly at the office.

We started hitting more bi-weekly development milestones when we started working form home a year ago, and at our annual reviews all the devs had improved (using actual metrics) on their previous years performance reviews.

It wasn't like that across the company, but in any department where concentration was key, working from home always showed a more positive output. Roles where talking to people and ticking boxes were the main action (call centre, sales, field operations) a decline in performance was observed and they had to return to the office.
 

heartbroken

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Work from home as had a massive negative impact on our company. We have loads of graduates (young, single people, living in bachelor pads) with many of them we've seen decreased productivity, being more negative and side tracked, lack of creativity, inability to solve the same problems as always etc. Some of which actually borders on what I want to call clinical depression. Sitting in a one room apartment alone in your pajamas the whole day is not healthy, young professionals need to go out to a work place, interact, have a reason to get dressed etc.
 

Priapus

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My company has gone all in on WFH. We changed some internal things and did restructuring. Last year was our best year yet and WFH has been positive to the company.
 

DA-LION-619

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There is far more at our office that prevents us from getting work done. People constantly just walking up to your desk and asking for help or information or something that would be a far better request as an email or IM where it can be dealt with when it doesn't interrupt the persons concentration. That is the beauty of working at home. When I am "in the zone" there is no one to break me out of it like there is constantly at the office.

We started hitting more bi-weekly development milestones when we started working form home a year ago, and at our annual reviews all the devs had improved (using actual metrics) on their previous years performance reviews.

It wasn't like that across the company, but in any department where concentration was key, working from home always showed a more positive output. Roles where talking to people and ticking boxes were the main action (call centre, sales, field operations) a decline in performance was observed and they had to return to the office.
Agreed, I like the idea of milestones. I’ve seen the issue of tasks/tickets, where the goal becomes to move tickets to closed/done.
That number goes up while the progress to hitting the milestone crawls.

Work from home as had a massive negative impact on our company. We have loads of graduates (young, single people, living in bachelor pads) with many of them we've seen decreased productivity, being more negative and side tracked, lack of creativity, inability to solve the same problems as always etc. Some of which actually borders on what I want to call clinical depression. Sitting in a one room apartment alone in your pajamas the whole day is not healthy, young professionals need to go out to a work place, interact, have a reason to get dressed etc.
That’s an knowledge/onboarding problem, as @Corelli pointed out.
You can’t fix communication issues with tools, in-person explanation will be easier in the short-term but can’t scale.
 

Johnatan56

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Many of the world’s top companies, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs, want employees to return to the office.
All banks and stuff invested in real estate, all old school with lots of manager levels.
Tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google are also inviting employees who have been vaccinated back to their desks.
FB is permanent WFH if possible as an option: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/09/fac...emotely-to-request-full-time-remote-work.html
Twitter as well: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/01/twitter-work-from-home/
Google is on a 20% WFH permanent, 20% hybrid model.

Don't think that applies.
South Africa is no different. A recent Digital Corporation in South Africa 2021 research study conducted by World Wide Worx revealed that 64% of South African enterprises expect all staff to make a full return to the workplace.
How many of those are manufacturing etc. where you need the tooling?

Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, told employees they should plan to work in an office at least three days a week.
Apple is going to have issues retaining talent: https://www.theverge.com/2021/7/15/...es-work-from-home-request-denied-hybrid-model
Amazon is very similar to Apple for a lot of stuff, but they are also allowing a lot of WFH permanent.

Vestact CEO Paul Theron may have the answer – tacit knowledge.
Ah yes, an investment firm that definitely has no vested interest in any property.

Riding a bicycle, creating great art, assessing opportunities, avoiding risks, cooking, public speaking, coding, rapid problem solving, and heart surgery.

Tacit knowledge instruction mostly happens through imitation, emulation, and apprenticeship. You learn by copying what a master does, often blindly, until you internalise the principles behind the actions.

You do not get it by studying written manuals and it’s not usually gained from deliberate practice.
So can't practice it, so what is the point of them imitating it? Also why can't this be done remotely? Had an intern I mentored for three months pure remote this year, worked pretty well (software).

“Learning on the job from old hands. I endorse that approach. I have learned a lot in the last two decades from Ted Weisberg of Seaport Securities, our partner firm in New York,” said Theron.

“This is also why I’m against working from home. The Vestact team operates from our office in the Rosebank Firestation, and we learn from each other, in person, on the job.”
Ah, so didn't actually matter that you were in the office as still remote.

The amount of anti-WFH from these companies is sickening, it's been way better to have WFH, I like the hybrid approach the most for a day or two a week, but it shouldn't actually be enforced, should be as needed, e.g. start of project or something when you need a lot of meetings/chats, but also works fine doing that via call. I like the fact that remote encouraged bullet pointing summaries of meetings.

Slow delivery service
People not working
People who become complacent and lazy
All of those can be measured with work output, give them a warning, should be sorted, same issue if they were in an office.
 

Genisys

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Work from home as had a massive negative impact on our company. We have loads of graduates (young, single people, living in bachelor pads) with many of them we've seen decreased productivity, being more negative and side tracked, lack of creativity, inability to solve the same problems as always etc. Some of which actually borders on what I want to call clinical depression. Sitting in a one room apartment alone in your pajamas the whole day is not healthy, young professionals need to go out to a work place, interact, have a reason to get dressed etc.
I doubt the problem is sitting in a one room apartment. Essentially when it comes down to it, an office is just a one desk apartment where people spend 8 hours of their day waiting for the clock to hit home time so they can go sit in traffic and drink a beer. Your problem here isn't the grads, is your culture.
 
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saor

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I don't think you understand the actual issues you are having. I doubt the problem is sitting in a one room apartment.
Just to respond to that particular point: Living in an apartment makes working from home very kak. In a house you can maybe assign a certain room to it, but in an apartment you're basically in the same space all the time and after a while it becomes quite difficult to be productive in such a space. For me at least. My productivity went through the roof going back to the office.

An office you still get to walk around and socialize etc. and go home to a different space at the end of the day.
 

DA-LION-619

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Just to respond to that particular point: Living in an apartment makes working from home very kak. In a house you can maybe assign a certain room to it, but in an apartment you're basically in the same space all the time and after a while it becomes quite difficult to be productive in such a space. For me at least. My productivity went through the roof going back to the office.

An office you still get to walk around and socialize etc. and go home to a different space at the end of the day.
It’s not the be-all and end-all solution, I think some people get that.
Not everything can be done remotely, even ‘performance’, how do you measure that correctly in a R&D team?

If you pay people to kill snakes, eventually they’ll be incentivised to breed them.
 

Swa

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Riding a bicycle, creating great art, assessing opportunities, avoiding risks, cooking, public speaking, coding, rapid problem solving, and heart surgery.
Hey, I can cook perfectly fine at home thank you.

There is far more at our office that prevents us from getting work done. People constantly just walking up to your desk and asking for help or information or something that would be a far better request as an email or IM where it can be dealt with when it doesn't interrupt the persons concentration. That is the beauty of working at home. When I am "in the zone" there is no one to break me out of it like there is constantly at the office.

We started hitting more bi-weekly development milestones when we started working form home a year ago, and at our annual reviews all the devs had improved (using actual metrics) on their previous years performance reviews.

It wasn't like that across the company, but in any department where concentration was key, working from home always showed a more positive output. Roles where talking to people and ticking boxes were the main action (call centre, sales, field operations) a decline in performance was observed and they had to return to the office.
Think you hit the note. People don't want to plan ahead.

Work from home as had a massive negative impact on our company. We have loads of graduates (young, single people, living in bachelor pads) with many of them we've seen decreased productivity, being more negative and side tracked, lack of creativity, inability to solve the same problems as always etc. Some of which actually borders on what I want to call clinical depression. Sitting in a one room apartment alone in your pajamas the whole day is not healthy, young professionals need to go out to a work place, interact, have a reason to get dressed etc.
That's more due to socialising than working from home. Many people felt it during lockdown and not just people working.
 
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