Flex is next: Navigating VUCA to reach RTO success

The Robin Team
The Robin Team

With so much VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) involving the Delta variant, delayed RTO plans, mask and vaccine mandates, and the ongoing “great resignation” of 2021, flexibility and balance have never been more important for companies. 

In yoga, “bridge pose” (or setu bandhasana) strengthens core back muscles. Now is the time for companies to strengthen their core hybrid work infrastructure as they navigate changing RTO plans.

As VP of Marketing here at Robin, I read a lot about the hybrid workplace, and every two weeks I share my favorite articles with you.

Feel free to let me know what YOU think. 

Let’s start the conversation.

Reworked: Providing flexibility gives employers competitive advantage

An article in Reworked makes the case that an overwhelming majority of employees are now demanding workplace flexibility, specifically regarding control over when and where they work. 

The problem is that “employees and employers cannot agree on a mutually acceptable definition of [workplace] flexibility.” Employers and senior leadership see flexibility as a temporary stopgap to get them through the pandemic (i.e., they still envision a post-pandemic “return to normalcy”), while employees have grown accustomed to flexibility and want it to be made permanent going forward.  

If the last year has taught us anything, says the article, it’s that “employees are willing to change jobs in order to” find the flexibility and employee experience they want. The article offers an essential insight for all companies:  

“In 2021, the competition for hiring and retaining talented people favors businesses that take a holistic approach to how, when and where work gets done . . . companies that embrace the entire employee experience with a people-first mentality are [the ones] winning over current and new employees.”  

Bottom line: Put people before places. 

NYT: Employers differ widely on mandating vaccinations

A September 6th New York Times article, Where Companies Stand on Vaccine Requirements and Return to Office, notes that the business community differs widely on vaccination mandates as part of their (now delayed) RTO plans. Even companies within the same city and industry have divergent policies.

For example, New York investment bank Goldman Sachs has mandated vaccinations as a condition for employees returning to its offices, while New York investment bank JP Morgan is “encouraging” returning employees to get vaccinated. 

In the technology sector, Microsoft has a vaccine mandate as part of its RTO plan, while Apple and Amazon “encourage” employees to get vaccinated.

All of these RTO plans are subject to change depending on what happens with the Delta variant, CDC guidance, employee feedback, and/or legal challenges to vaccine mandates. Stay tuned for ongoing VUCA and the need for flexibility.

BusinessInsider: Flip-Flops on RTO plans impacting employee mental health

Yoga in general and bridge pose in particular calms the brain, reducing levels of anxiety and stress caused by VUCA. A BusinessInsider story explains how ongoing changes around RTO plans, vaccine mandates, and the Delta variant are negatively impacting employee mental health and productivity. 

Employees “constantly needing to rethink, to reprioritize can make it extremely difficult to actually get to the point of being productive and accomplishing what [they] need to do,” says Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi, medical director of behavioral health for telemedicine company Doctor on Demand. 

The article recommends that employers openly acknowledge that employee stress is a natural response to ongoing uncertainty and to offer as much flexibility as possible so employees feel a sense of control over their work lives. Employees who don’t feel much sense of control are not only less productive, but also have a tendency to resign.

CNBC: The “great resignation” continues, as 54% of employees actively seek another job

 As you move through the evolving challenges brought by Delta and changing RTO plans, bridge pose can give you an opportunity to take a deep breath. The key to getting RTO plans right remains a laser-like focus on employee experience. Get that wrong, and employees will look to leave you.

A story from CNBC’s The Exchange notes that more than half of employees (54%) surveyed by people management firm Lattice said they were actively looking to change their jobs. 

“Employees have more choices today than ever, especially with remote work and the way it has blurred the line between work and life,” said Jack Altman, CEO of Lattice, “so employers need to rethink retention every day.” 

The good news, according to Altman, is that “by any metric, employee productivity has not gone down during the pandemic due to remote work, so it’s likely here to stay through and well beyond the pandemic.” Flexibility is what employees want, today and tomorrow. 

Thank you for reading and see you again in two weeks.

Meanwhile, continue to do bridge pose and remain flexible — we all need to strengthen our core in a VUCA world right now!

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