Now we face the Great Mismatch

Since the end of COVID-19 emergency measures that closed offices nationwide, we’ve lived through the Great Retirement, the Great Resignation, and the Great Return.

Now we’re facing the Great Mismatch.

That’s the conflict between employers who want employees working in the office at least a few days per week and employees who want to work remotely full time.

A Forbes article on January 1 put The Great Mismatch in the form of hard numbers.

The article said, “A recent survey by Slack found that only 12% of people would choose to be in the office full time. Yet 50% of leaders are demanding their employees come back full time.”

That article also cited a McKinsey study showing that 87% of Americans want to work in a flexible environment that allows for work in an office setting as well as virtually.

The topic has been discussed in business and IT publications for several months and was recently addressed on the editorial page of The Washington Post.

Focusing on federal agencies that are allowing remote work, the Post wrote, “Despite the claims of traditional managers who insist on a full return to five days in the office, the truth is that U.S. productivity actually spiked in the second half of 2020 while most offices were shut. And it fell sharply in the first quarters of 2022, when most companies began mandating a return to the office.”

That information was first published by Fortune in a February article that examined productivity data. There’s little doubt that remote workers are productive.

But there’s the belief among many managers that the opposite is true. Julia Pollock, an economist at ZipRecruiter, summed it up for Marketplace.

Julia said most companies don’t like fully remote work because studies show that, generally, candidates who tend to apply for those jobs are less productive.

“People who want to moonlight or want to smoke pot all day or watch movies while working or whatever,” she said.

She also said that companies that list hybrid jobs with a mix of in-office and remote time get the most applicants.

Maybe that’s the solution to the Great Mismatch – a hybrid environment instead of all-or-nothing.

That’s the view of Management Issues, which wrote, “Because there's such a disagreement, many workplaces (maybe most) are attempting to find a compromise, which explains the rise of hybrid work. Allowing employees greater flexibility in when and where work gets done while still co-locating at times is part of the answer. Organizations can stop the rush of turnover and inability to recruit, and employees get enough flexibility (and it's better than going back to the office full-time) they can live with the new arrangement.”

It's also the view of 87% of Americans, according to that McKinsey study cited earlier.

As we noted just last month, finding talent today is more difficult than ever, with or without a Great Mismatch. But we have the best recruiters in the business, and they know how to find the talent you need. So forget all the headlines and contact us for help.