If your managers are stuck in the past, fire them!

Repeat after me: We don't work like we used to anymore — and anyone who can't see that is holding your company back.

A recent survey of American managers by employment background check company GoodHire found 77% of managers will implement "severe consequences" — including firing workers or cutting pay and benefits — for employees who refuse to return to the office.

Are you kidding me? Who are these morons, and how have they managed to keep their jobs? Seriously!

They're not the only ones, though. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who calls himself "a traditionalist," believes employees miss out on learning how to be great managers when "you are sitting at home on the sofa while you're working." Schmidt also doesn't think social technologies can replace in-person work: "The current virtual tools are not the same as the informal networks that occur within a corporation."

Schmidt, I should add, hasn't worked a real job in over a decade.

By now, it's clear that the vast majority of workers working from home don't want to go back to the office. But, do you know what will happen if you tell most people that when it comes to where they work: it's your way or the highway?

They quit.

It's one factor behind the Great Resignation.

Now, I'm not sure that —  per a FlexJobs survey — 97 percent of workers want remote work, with 58 percent preferring to be full-time remote and 39 percent opting for a hybrid work environment. That number sounds much too high to me. But, I know that people who've worked from home usually don't want to return to cubicles.

Let me count the reasons why: No need to pay for gas. (Have you filled your gas tank lately?) No wasted time stuck in traffic on the road. More flexible time for kids, doctor's appointments, and eldercare. The list goes on — and that's just for the staff side.

Companies have been doing just fine with people working from home. Even that same GoodHire survey found:

  • "73% of managers said productivity and engagement had either improved or stayed the same with remote work compared to in-office work."
  • "68% of managers said a fully remote operation would either add to their profit or the bottom line would stay the same."
  • "61% of managers agreed that they had been able to retain top talent during heavy remote/hybrid working times amid COVID-19."
  • And "74% of managers said their companies had either hired more or retained a level number of employees throughout the past two years of increased remote/hybrid work."

Do you see the fundamental disconnect here? On the one hand, managers know and admit that things are going great with people working from home. Yet, on the other hand, these same bosses want to fire or cut the pay and benefits of those employees.

That's not smart.

We see here, both in these managers and Schmidt, are people stuck in the management past. They're frozen in the old way of doing things.

In particular, I believe many of these people are micromanagers, bosses who believe in old-boy networks, and those who simply aren't capable of learning new management styles.

If you have managers in your company telling you that you must bring your employees back to the office, take a long, hard look at them. Do they judge employees on how well they work according to some metric like hours at the desk? The number of bathroom breaks taken? Attendance at mandatory in-person meetings?

Yes? Fire them.

Do your "leaders" lead by making sure the buddies they hang out with in the office or on the golf course get plum jobs and raises?

Fire them, too.

Finally, do your bosses discourage working with Zoom, Slack, or whatever online tools you've been using in favor of "tried and true" — read: obsolete — face-to-face meetings? Do top-level leaders want to keep brick-and-mortar corner offices without offering a business reason to keep paying for expensive office space?

 Get rid of them, as well.

What matters is how well workers do their job, nothing else. The best managers help their people do the job. Managers who don't get that don't belong in your company.

Sure, there are exceptions.

Not everyone works well from home. Sometimes you really must meet face-to-face. For example, I've been to dozens of virtual trade shows in the last two years. Unfortunately, I've yet to "be" at one that was even half as productive as a real-world event. So it is handy to have real-life business meetings.

But, and this is vital, only go back to the office if there's a real reason. Simply demanding a return to the past without solid reasons is a recipe for disaster.


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