When will companies learn that despite some people wanting to be in an office, many people who have been given a taste of remote work during the pandemic don’t want to return to the office?
One of Australia’s largest banks, Commonwealth Bank, conjured a storm of epic proportions last month when it announced it wanted all 49,000 employees back in the office at least 50% of the time by July 17, 2023.
The move took a lot of CommBank employees by surprise because there was no consultation whatsoever. And unsurprisingly, people are upset about it. First was the internal town hall, where angry employees voiced concerns about the return to office mandate, cost of living pressures and other concerns.
CommBank executives probably thought the fanfare would die and employees would eventually toe the party line and accept the mandate.
Well, that isn’t happening.
Understandably so. Firstly, nobody was consulted about the mandate. Group executive of human resources Sian Lewis delivered the mandate and then dropped the mic. Her reasoning behind why CommBank is forcing employees back into the office? To drive innovation and collaboration with face-to-face interactions.
Pull out your corporate lingo bullshit cards and tick those boxes off.
The ironic thing is that employees are being forced back into the office, only to find themselves having to do video calls and use tools like Slack to communicate with some of their peers who are not in the same location.
Forced back into the office, only to work remotely inside the office.
Let’s call the forced return to the office movement for what it is: micromanagement. Managers want to be able to surveil and control their employees, something they can’t do remotely.
It’s inconsiderate timing. Australia has gone from a 0.1% cash rate to 4.10% in a year. Driving up the cost of mortgages, rents are also increasing at double digits, alongside electricity bills going up 20%+ for most Australians this year. There is a cost of living crisis, which CommBank would be aware of, and by forcing employees to commute, they’re effectively asking them to take a pay cut.
Remote work helped banks like CommBank reap record profits during and after the pandemic. All of a sudden, remote work is a problem. If it was a problem, why haven’t companies gone out of business because of remote work policies? Because it will never happen.