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Disney’s Return to Office Mandate Shows Failure of Imagination About How to Innovate in Hybrid and Remote Work

TASA ID: 22108

Disney’s CEO Bob Iger demanded on Monday January 9 that all employees return to the office for at least four days a week because "in a creative business like ours, nothing can replace the ability to connect, observe, and create with peers that comes from being physically together.” That’s similar to the sentiments expressed by Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, who demanded that employees come to the office for at least three days per week because “Innovation isn’t always a planned activity. It is bumping into each other over the course of the day and advancing an idea that you just had. And you really need to be together to do that.”

The Four Horsemen of the Mandated Return to Office

TASA ID: 22108

As increasing numbers of companies are requiring employees to return to the office for 3-5 days per week this fall, they’re running into the buzzsaw of what one of my clients called the “Four Horsemen of the Required Return to Office” - challenges with resistance, attrition, quiet quitting, and diversity.

The Four Horsemen stem from the fact that workers who are capable of working remotely prefer to do so for most or all of the time. For example, an August 2022 Gallup survey of remote-capable workers shows that 34% of respondents want to work full-time remotely, 60% want to work a flexible hybrid schedule, and only 6% want to work in a traditional office-centric setting. A June 2022 McKinsey survey of all workers, remote-capable and not, provides further context on preferences for hybrid work. It found that 32% of respondents want to work full-time remotely, 10% want to work remotely four days a week, 16% three days a week, 18% two days a week, 13% one day a week, and 13% prefer full-time in-office work. Thus over half of all respondents want to work less than half the time in the office. And a September 2022 survey from the School of Politics and Economics at King’s College reported that 25% of respondents would quit if forced to return to the office full time.

FTX Brought Down by SBF’s Double-or-Nothing Philosophy

TASA ID: 22108

“Let’s say there’s a game: 51 percent, you double the Earth out somewhere else; 49 percent, it all disappears. Would you play that game? And would you keep on playing that, double or nothing?”

The vast majority of us would not take the risk of playing that game even once. After all, it seems morally atrocious to take a 49% chance of all of human civilization disappearing, for a 51% chance of doubling the value of our civilization - essentially a coin flip.

Don't Fall For These 3 Psychological Tricks Black Friday Sales Use to Make Us Buy More

TASA ID: 22108

Imagine you put on an old coat that you have not worn in a while, and to your surprise find a crumpled $20 bill in your pocket. How good does it feel? Do you go up half a notch on a one to 10 mood scale, or maybe a full notch?

Let’s imagine a different scenario. You’re buying ice cream from an ice cream cart and take out a $20 bill to pay. Suddenly, a gust of wind sweeps it from your hand and into a nearby sewer grate. What does that do to your mood on the one-to-10 scale?

Elon Musk's Authoritarianism on Returning to the Office Undermining Tesla’s Future

TASA ID: 22108

Elon Musk recently demanded that all Tesla staff return to the office full-time, according to an email sent to executive staff and leaked on social media. Musk said those who do not want to come to office should “pretend to work somewhere else.” This authoritarian, top-down approach rooted in mistrust and false assumptions goes against best practices. It speaks to an illusion of control that will undermine employee productivity, engagement, innovation, retention, and recruitment at Tesla.

One of Musk’s false assumptions involves the idea that employees “pretend” to work from home. In fact, research using both surveys and behavior tracking from the early days of the pandemic has shown that remote work resulted in higher productivity. More recently, academics demonstrated a further increase in productivity in remote work, from 5 percent in the summer of 2020 to 9 percent in May 2022. That is because companies and employees grew better at working from home.

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