30 Aug “Flex-Washing”
Another job market prediction come true.
“When we think about flexible work, greenwashing may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s more relevant than you might realize. Just as companies have overstated and put a spin on their environmental and sustainability initiatives to appeal to growing consumer preferences for green brands, many are falling into a similar pattern with their flexible work policies and are treading dangerously close to ‘flex-washing.’
Companies have been widely using ‘flexible work’ in their attempts to attract talent in the wake of the Great Resignation. According to Jabra’s 2022 Hybrid Ways of Working Report, 63% of employees prefer a hybrid work setup that provides flexibility, yet a clearly defined standard of what that means does not exist. Given its popularity, it’s no wonder flexible work is front and center in many companies’ recruiting and retention efforts. However, most flexible work policies fall short of the true meaning of flexibility.” (emphasis mine)
I’ve predicted more than once that we would see companies taking one of two approaches: 1) the Lord Elon method of ripping the band-aid off. “Git yer butts back in here and RTO or there’s the door.” 2) Put everyone on a hybrid schedule that winds up being weird and unwieldy (on purpose, IMO) and then segue into, “OK, we tried hybrid, it didn’t go well, so c’mon back now.”
➡️ The article itself says people who want to RTO hit an all-time low last month, then turns around and claims that hybrid work is best. Sorry, I don’t buy that. This is the same work style being dubbed a “hell of half measures.” I have predicted this before and will do so again: I think for offices not wanting to be as mercenary as Lord Elon, we will see a push towards hybrid work. Then when most people aren’t happy with it and it feels disjointed, those offices will say, “OK, fine. No more remote work. You are to be here, butt-in-seat, Monday through Friday or there’s the door.”
I’ve also warned that you should always read the fine print in a job offer and/or employment contract and do not be afraid to ask direct questions. Is it truly 100% remote or will there be times when you are expected to travel for a cowpoke round-up somewhere? As the author mentions on Fortune – there really isn’t a clear standard of what “flexible work” actually means and, sadly, Corpo America can exploit that to its own advantage. I actually had this experience years ago. I interviewed with a company and the HR Manager told me that I could work four 10s and have every Friday off. When I asked the hiring manager about it, he looked completely puzzled and informed me, “We haven’t done that schedule in years. I dunno why she would tell you that, but no, we’re here Monday through Friday.” I’m glad I asked rather than moving full steam ahead.
Here’s the deal: I’ve been bearish about my predictions for the economy. If a recession hits and unemployment rises, I believe we will see an RTO push. Micromanagers and surveillance-happy bosses who’ve been sitting back, mad at the world that they can’t herd you into a Cube Farm (while they go and play golf whenever TF they want to) will feel like, “Yee haw! Here’s our chance.” Be intentional about where you land. For example, Airbnb made it clear their workers can stay remote and live wherever they want… but… there’s a catch. Once per quarter you have to expect some sort of corporate hoo-ha for a week at a time. (https://news.airbnb.com/airbnbs-design-to-live-and-work-anywhere/) 👎🏻
If you are negotiating for a completely remote-only role, you should consider these fine print situations. Is it “remote only” except for 4 weeks out of the year when you have to make travel arrangements to go somewhere for team-building BS? These are important questions to ask. For me, remote only means exactly that: 100% remote, 100% of the time, 0 exceptions.
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