CEO Shoptalk — The New Hiring Dilemma

I am chatting with three CEOs recently and all are “returning to the office” meaning that in the new world of full vaccination they have re-opened offices and are trying to get back to normal.

They have issued recalls — demanded employees return to the office like back in pre-COVID normal times.

Normal? Haha. Sure, normal.

The pushback

All three have received substantial pushback from employees who do not want to RTTO — return to the office.

These folks want to WFH — work from home — for the rest of their lives.

You know the whole WFH benefit package, right?

 1. Geographical flexibility — why not live at the beach, the mountains, Austin, Charlotte?

 2. Comfortable work surroundings at home;

 3. Clothing options — haha, not clothing optional — sweats;

 4. No commute;

 5. Time savings — gobs of time per week;

 6. Cost savings — no commute, no gas, no car maintenance, no lunches, no makeup, less expensive clothes, no dog care — it’s a bloody pay raise;

 7. The bottom line is less stress.

The tools to make WFH work are now better than ever before and everybody knows how to use them.

Who are these people, Big Red Car?

Therein lies the problem, dear reader, these folks are employees who are perfectly mobile. They are not founders, co-founders, C-suite denizens, upper management — these folks are the ones who do the work and don’t particularly have any company loyalty.

[Having worked for home going on their second year, they have not been exposed to any team building or loyalty creating energy, have they? Can you be loyal to Zoom?]

But, they are people that are essential to the success of the company — software engineers, marketing folks, finance folks.

A bit of a diversion: Having examined the subject with some precision, I am convinced it is virtually impossible to build a culture, build teams, to leverage cooperation, to provide charismatic, personal leadership in a remote work environment. It requires the personal contact, the bonding of garden variety teambuilding and personal leadership to build a culture or a team that can rise to the level of “execution advantage.”

Excellence is inextricably intertwined with execution advantage as we discussed here:

Execution Advantage

OK, what’s the solution, Big Red Car, getting my car washed

Ahhh, therein lies the real problem — there may not be a solution.

Labor is tight. Wage manipulation is not as effective as it once was.

Work from home is not just attractive, but to some, it is essential.

Once the farmers have seen Paris, you can’t get those boys behind a plow again.

Companies are going to have to come to grips with this problem because the employees are switching jobs and — more importantly — companies that are not RTTO and are now native WFH know this and are preying upon that phenomenon to recruit your best employees.

It’s a hard, cruel world out there and WFH is a real thing. Your competitors will seduce your best employees and the employees know this — they are applying for their same jobs over there right now.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be well, amigos.

A typical Return to the Office negotiation?