In their recent discussion of the moveable feast that is working from home Jared Lynch and Bridget Carter glaringly spotlight the divergent ways that leaders choose to exercise their leadership and how they seek to shape organisational culture in these post-COVID days.

Mineral Resources and NAB CEOs have categorically shut down any form of hybrid work. Meanwhile Telstra, Medibank, ANZ and others have embedded hybrid work policies, dally with four-day weeks or like NIB, compensate workers for ‘renting space in people’s homes’.

For Mineral Resources, it’s in the office five days a week, or ‘you don’t work here’.  They’re putting resources into beautiful office space, changing the environment – it’s not a return to the horrid hutches of open-plan.  They’re thinking about what attracts people to work in offices, and are focused on making it interesting.  All good, if that’s your thing.

If you want diversity in your workforce, though, it doesn’t matter how beautiful or purposeful the office is, it’s unlikely to be a winner.  How can you juggle (let alone nicely balance) family responsibilities in such a rigid context?

And it seems to play too much into the kind of work cultures where presenteeism is mistaken for capability.  There’s the danger that a five-days-in-the-office workplace over-emphasises performative aspects of productivity and engagement, prioritising style over substance.  It harks too much back to presenteeism, where you prove your capability and value by being there rather than by being talented.  It is one factor that is likely to increase feelings of imposterism for minorities.

And the thing that concerns me perhaps the most is the potential for the psychological and work oriented causes of stress and burnout to be deprioritised.

I can’t help but think it would be worthwhile for companies to spend as much money and effort on actual working expectations and manager-team relationships as they are on making the office a desirable place to be. To learn more about what these might be, check out my Whitepaper Why care and compassion must be prioritise to truly engage your workforce.

To find a work culture that truly appreciates performance and substance:

  • avoid companies that pronounce dictums, a one-size-fits all approach to working arrangements
  • do your due diligence on your direct line manager – that’s the one thing that affects your workday more than anything else
  • choose the level of flexibility that suits your lifestyle, including the degree to which you work better when surrounded by others versus working on your own

To achieve high quality work performance takes more than an office – that office may well be a positive contributor – just make sure you pay attention to the most important factors that contribute to engagement and performance.

You can also read my recent article related to hybrid work here.


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