are more companies bringing people back to the office? — Ask a Manager

Our company is one that has had people in office for the whole time because it’s food production related business, but definitely required non-essential workers to WFH during the pandemic. Now I’m seeing a mix. They’re definitely trying to encourage “office-only” people back to the office, but don’t seem to be requiring it as a whole. They are leaving a lot to individual manager discretion based on actual performance and job function.

In a lot of cases, since there was always a mix of in person and remote by us the in-person people picked up a lot of tasks that weren’t theirs and were never meant to be permanent, so there’s been some discussion about how to manage that. Do we hire other people in a new function to cover that stuff? Make it just part of the in person peoples jobs? Or insist that those that were doing it before come back at least enough to do those tasks?

For my specific and tiny location (the company itself is huge and international), we hired a new person to cover the stuff the in person people were covering because it was getting to be too much for the in persons as our workload ramped back up. Most of our in person people are allowed a semi-hybrid schedule where if they have a day of meetings or are just going to be writing stuff all day they can stay home, but their in person stuff needs to be covered and they are expected to ask, not tell, people if they can help out with anything that needs coverage while they’re home and need to accept an answer of “no”. We are all salaried so if someone isn’t able or doesn’t want to have to work longer hours to cover so someone else can be home voluntarily for the day the person that wants to stay home isn’t supposed to pitch a fit about it. Mostly everyone by us is pretty gracious about stuff though so it mostly hasn’t been an issue.

We do still always cover child care issues that pop up and illnesses. We don’t want sick people coming in. We are a tiny group and all of us getting sick would take the whole place down, so we are pretty firm on that.

It would be weird for our manager to be weird about hybrid stuff… because he’s hybrid and his boss is almost exclusively WFH. Of course, if they were bad managers I could see it happening.

That said… we’ve actually been pushing for our manager to spend more time on-site. We have experienced a lot of turnover in the last 4 years or so and took a significant head-count reduction about 3-4 years ago. Our manager has only been with our team maybe a year so, our ask was for him to spend more time on-site so he gets a better view of what is going on there so he can more effectively advocate for us. Our pleas have not been answered yet and we are getting increasingly more frustrated that we aren’t getting the support we need and only see boss man twice a week if we are lucky (we can go weeks without seeing him at all). Not sure what’s going on there, and no one is asking for it to be permanent, just until we figure out our staff Vs workload issues.

Anyway, that’s a long winded explanation of “my office is a lot of in person, some hybrid, and left to manager discretion”.

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