Data shows executives are much more understanding than perhaps the workforce give credit for..
With the obvious seismic changes across our working lives still evolving post covid, the office do’s and don’ts have changed over the last few years.
But employees are still nervous about negative perceptions from executives and management.
The workplace has had a full makeover. People are no longer bound to working between 9 and 5, also they’re working from home some days and from their living rooms on other days.
With the change of working patterns, many of the traditional office norms of the pre-pandemic days have changed, but it’s not always clear to employees what the new norms are. In fact, many employees are unsure (or have forgotten) about the new rules of the workplace.
Also effected are the Executives, not only upon entering this new reality of work, but also having to adapt to become more understanding and accommodating of employees’ needs.
If management are willing to create a much more flexible workplace, why are employees still nervous to broach these taboos?
In a recent workplace report, gaps that divide leaders and their teams were highlighted.
The report researched whether traditional office taboos give employees a reason to stress, for example, scrolling on social media or bringing their dog into work, and if the executives still viewed those behaviours as negative.
The report surveyed 1,000 employees and 250 executives in order to find out if these stigmas still existed and prevalent they were in today’s workplace.
Perhaps not surprisingly, despite increased flexibility in the workplace, employees still feel there is a stigma around leaving the office early.
With new ways of working and new places to work (basically wherever you can get wifi!), there could be an expectation from employees to feel that they have much more flexibility in the hours they come in and out of the office.
However, according to the research, 68% of employees say there is a stigma around leaving early or coming in later.
Although when the same question was posed to executives c.50% viewed this as a negative.
Interestingly female executives viewed the range of office taboos as more negative than their male counterparts. The biggest gaps between male and female executives occurred when it came to taking time out of the day to run a personal errand or do personal tasks on a work computer.
The largest disparity occurred where male executives viewed taking sick days and having lunch outside the office as being highly negative. Only 3%* of female executives viewed taking a sick day as negative compared to 16% of male executives.
As we all try and find our own norms, it is apparent that the workplace is returning to be about uniformity, relationship building and productivity, then time at the office is important.
Unsurprisingly, the research showed that executives might believe productivity levels go down once employees leave the office for the day.
The same is true for employees. Employees who voted for productivity over relationship-building were more likely to worry about the stigma of leaving early or coming in later.
What to do??
Navigating the post-pandemic office has presented challenges for both executives and employees, and will most likely continue to do so.
Employees are still figuring out what the new office do’s and don’ts are when it comes to personal time, flexible hours, and comfort in the office. On the other hand, executives’ views have changed (they’re human too!).
They’ve adjusted pre-pandemic views on office stigmas and are accepting new norms that empower employees.
So what are workplace leaders to do? It’s important that employees understand how flexible the new workplace environment is.
It’s key to communicate out the company’s policies around work hours, time off, pets in the office, and more so there is no misunderstanding.
A business should perhaps arm their employees with the tools that allow them to make these flexible choices at work, from there, as time progresses and the new norm continues to evolve, you can help close the gap on office taboos.