Trust has been in the HR headlines again of late. New research suggesting that, despite a year and a half of remote work for a significant swathe of the working population, we still don’t trust people and want them back in the office pronto.
Where we can see them.
Where we can control them. Make sure that they are working.
Or so we pretend.
These surveys about trust align with own my anecdotal information and the conversations I have been having with people of late, both IRL and on social media. Reports of people being told, sometimes in direct contrast to organisation wide new policies and published ways of working, to come back to the office. Come back to the 9-5. Because this is ‘better’.
The promised mantra that ‘work is a thing that you do, not a place that you go’ remains unfulfilled.
The question arises: just what are we so afraid of?
Just what do these managers think that employees will do, if we give them autonomy? If we give them the ability to manage their own time, to have choice, to work asynchronously?
If the evidence of the so-called ‘great working from home experiment’ is anything to go by, the answer is…. they will work quite hard, perhaps overwork, and their productivity will increase. There has been no epidemic of skiving, this last 18 months.
Why are we so unbelieving, still, about remote work?
Why do we still see those people who want to work from home as less committed, less motivated, less career orientated or ambitious?
Why are we so unwilling, still, to simply trust people?
Why do we so badly want to reassert the ways of the office, the old normal?
Somewhere, the ghost of Fredrick Winslow Taylor must be smiling proudly to himself, as we continue his work, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.