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Updated: March 4, 2024 Know How

Employment lessons learned in 2020 we're failing to remember

The COVID pandemic caused seismic shifts in the playing field for employers, employees, and the physical and digital spaces where they do business. And yet, we see some companies trying to return to their pre-pandemic business models. But the new normal has come, and by ignoring it and reversing the systems in place for remote work, communication, and sales, all these employers are doing is handicapping themselves when it comes to recruitment, retention, and competition.

A woman with red hair wears a green shirt.
Julia Becker Collins is the chief operating officer of Northborough marketing firm Vision Advertising.

Pushback to the return to office push

As a society, we took the plunge into remote work unsure if it was going to work. The big experiment paid off with many businesses, especially those in white-collar industries, being able to continue service amid lockdowns. With those lockdowns a more distant memory, we’re seeing the return-to-office push return. I’ve heard it from both sides: The managers are confused why employees are leaving over something they had to do pre-pandemic, and workers are frustrated with giving up a way to work that better fits with their lives.

Remote work is a valued benefit

I’m seeing a huge disconnect between employers and both current employees and job seekers when it comes to requiring in-person work. They don’t seem to understand the new normal fundamentally changed the perks available for current and would-be employees. During the pandemic, many moved to more favorable locations, found relief not having the daily commute, and made their home their perfect office. Employers can’t put that genie back in the bottle, and those who try face a loss in employees and their loyalty and productivity.

Remote work at Vision Advertising

Vision Advertising went remote and then completely virtual during COVID, and we’ve never looked back. It’s improved retention, hiring, and even internships. Not to mention saving on the lease.

My advice: If you can’t go remote, go hybrid; just remember four days in office and one at home won’t cut it.

Ignoring the new normal is costing you the best employees

And it’s not just a numbers game, but quality. The very traits you may look for in employees (self-starters, big ideas, innovators, and those who work well without oversights) make them more likely to seek out remote work. These people don’t want or need to report to a because-that’s-how-we’ve-always-done-it micromanager who thrives in the return-to-office setting. You might be losing out on the perfect employees with the traits you value because remote work isn’t negotiable for them.

You need to revisit your benefits package for the post-2020 employee, both the current employees you want to keep and those you’re hoping to entice to join your company. It’s not just remote work; it’s remote care. It’s about flexibility, more time off, and fewer meetings. The patience of the modern employee is shorter; you need to be transparent from the first interview to the fifth-year review. Remote work, virtual offices, and even virtual businesses are here to stay.

Adapt, or you’ll see your workforce flocking to the competition.

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