Return-to-Office Plans Don’t Have to Undermine Employee Autonomy | Harvard Business Review

Leadership & Culture

As organizations continue to navigate the return to physical office locations, this new article emphasizes the need for organizations to align their return-to-office transition with the values they advocate to their workforce. It highlights the potential conflict between mandates for returning to the office and values such as employee flexibility, inclusion, well-being, empowerment, and autonomy if not approached strategically and transparently. The paper identifies three imperatives to guide leaders in navigating this transition to reinforce rather than undermine employees’ connection to the organization and its values. One key aspect highlighted is the impact of the return-to-office on fostering an inclusive culture. The authors note that despite the initial belief that mandating onsite presence creates inclusivity, remote workers actually experience 10% higher inclusion than those onsite, mainly due to feeling more authentic in their remote environments. Sixty-two percent of employees reported they feel they can be themselves best in a remote environment, where they have privacy and control over their workspace. Additionally, it highlights how introverts and neurodivergent individuals may favor a quieter, less socially stimulating environment that remote work often provides. Considering the multifaceted aspects influencing remote work decisions, I am resharing my one-page playlist featuring five resources to help organizations intentionally evaluate various aspects of remote work.