Have we really done enough to understand why many have not wished to return to workplaces?

The above question has been well debated but has been maybe one of the most misunderstood pieces of information across all companies. If one looks back to the days pre-pandemic, many companies and executives were working longer hours with levels of anxiety, stress and with falls in productivity and with, in truth, very few asking the hard questions as to how the picture could be improved.

Most people would first look at their mobile phone between 6am and 6.30am. Most would have a final look at 10pm according to research. The average lunch break stood at 19 mins. Given all this, is really a surprise that have not wanted to return to the workplace. They argue that their productivity has increased as they have felt more rested and had time to reflect.

In a discussion last week, it was also noted by a former City Executive that many do not want to return to the workplace because they also did not want to return to bad habits with drugs and alcohol. This issue has rarely been openly discussed but, as companies do seek to ask their teams to return; maybe the question still does to need to asked as to what has really changed in the workplace?

This particular executive was a high flier in the world of banking. From an external perspective, he possessed all he could have desired but in truth, his life relied on drugs and alcohol addiction which led to both a deep sense of unhappiness and inevitably to a bitter divorce. He notes that he is far from alone with such a story and that many have welcomed the pandemic as their opportunity to rebuild relationships within families and to break their reliance with stimulants.

Sports players will talk that their ability to perform to a consistent high level relies on their ability to 1. Rest and 2. Reflect and learn from what has gone wrong.

We created a work environment which demanded more and rarely considered either of the above points in the development of their executives.

The hope is that now there will be greater levels of change and understanding. We are seeing more and more discussions open up as to mental well-being and the need for better work practices and design in offices.

One executive recently noted that; “ Leaders do need to understand that we never stopped as technology gave us so much more. We simply asked for more.”

Today leaders need to think about the care of their people. People respond if they are given the space to be themselves, to think, rest and operate as they see it. It is that old word empowerment which did become obsolete in the last decade. People would be shocked if they knew how many senior professionals are addicted to stimulants. It is right that they do not want to return to how life was and the onus now is on leaders to change work expectations. “

Do you agree?