You’ve heard of the Great Resignation and Great Adaptation. Now there’s what I’m calling a Great Divide. It’s about the disconnect between how employees (non-managers) want to experience the workplace right now, and how leaders are enabling that experience.
Anecdotally, this divide is clear. It’s wide and getting wider. But since we love data around here, we decided to establish the numbers behind it. Our remote work survey elicited thousands of responses and more than a few eye-opening stats. Here are some key results, and what leaders need to know right now:
The remote workplace isn’t as remote as many believe. Rumors of the ubiquitous remote workforce have, apparently, been exaggerated. Only 40% of non-managers who responded to the survey said that they have the freedom to work remotely.
Leaders aren’t giving non-managers the same freedom they’re giving themselves. Leaders are significantly more likely to be able to work remotely than their non-manager counterparts (63% versus 40%).
That imbalance extends to schedules, not just locations. Around three-quarters (74%) of non-managers reported that they no longer want to work the typical 9-5. However, 47% of them reported still having to do so. Once again, the picture is very different for leaders; only 31% of whom still have to work a standard 9-5 day.
Leaders may be oblivious to the disconnect. It’s clear that non-managers aren’t getting the work setup they want. Worse, employers don’t seem to recognize the inequity. Alludo’s survey found that C-suite executives believe they have adapted to the new work landscape. Nearly six in 10 (58%) asserted that their company has changed the way remote and hybrid employees are managed.
But non-managers disagree. Strongly. Roughly the same number (57%) of non-managers report that leadership has not changed their management style for the new work landscape. And 28% report that they’re micromanaged—a scenario that is a drain on leaders’ time and most definitely a detriment to retention and the employee experience.
As these survey results quantify the scale of the issue, they also show us the stakes are enormous. Forty-four percent of non-managers reported being willing to change careers if they can’t secure the working conditions that work for them.
While the talent market is undoubtedly shifting, two truths remain static: Top talent is perennially valuable, and losing top talent to turnover is costly.
What happens next?
We’re already in a leadership crisis caused by this divide—the future is about getting past this crisis. Instead of lowering expectations or giving in, I believe in raising right expectations in the right way. That means shifting the focus to outcomes, not inputs. Hiring great people and giving them the freedom to work when, where, and how they want. Creating a culture of transparency and psychological safety instead of one of intimidation and micromanagement.
That’s a big part of what we’re doing at Alludo as we build the future of work (what we call Work3).
In my opinion, true leadership isn’t a product of getting people in a room to do what you want. It’s about dismantling the divide and envisioning a new way of working that lets people bring their A-game every day. For many, that’s a world that makes remote work a reality for everyone, not just the leadership team. This is about working better and living better. And it can drive results, too. It’s time to close the Great Divide.
This article originally appeared in Fast Company.