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Remote work vs back to the office: why the great tech quit may just be beginning

Are we witnessing the rise of a “human-centred” working model?

Image: Luis Alvarez/Getty

Employers – at least those trying to hire technical staff – need to remember that the rules have changed. The events of the past two years have forced companies large and small to put digital transformation at the heart of their strategies, which means the dynamics of hiring technical staff have changed.

Some useful data points to consider in this context:

  • Two-thirds of tech workers are already looking for a new job or are ready to move
  • Three-quarters of tech workers who actually changed jobs in the last year got two more offers (and here are the most in-demand developer skills, in case you were wondering)
  • There are already 2.5 million open cybersecurity jobs worldwide: it would take the entire population of a city the size of Chicago to fill them

The big question now is how managers are reacting to these changes. Technical staff in particular have a lot more bargaining power, which could encourage some companies to change their policies to attract and retain the best.

This means putting more emphasis on employee well-being and empowerment about how, when and where they work. Analysts have described this as the rise of a “human-centric work model” which, if nothing else, makes me wonder what the previous work model had at its core. Profits and presenteeism, perhaps?

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This alternative model would see companies launch new working models like four-day weeks or remote and more flexible working. But it also risks contradicting another business imperative: getting back to the office. If the tension between these two demands is mishandled, it could easily give staff (especially technical staff who have plenty of options) another chance to get involved in this oft-discussed movement – ​​The Great Resignation.

Some managers seem very keen to get their employees back into the office full-time, because they think it’s the most efficient way to get things done. It’s understandable, but a one-size-fits-all approach probably won’t work. It will be interesting to see how this strategy plays out: technical staff on the brink of exhaustion after two years of hard work might not be impressed by being told to go back to the office just so the bosses can fire. the most of their expensive real estate. .

Other companies take a more nuanced approach and let staff come back at a slower pace. And the savviest managers agree that the past two years have shown us all that while the office is good for some things, a thoughtful combination of face-to-face, online and remote working can make us more productive and more happy.

Tech workers are in demand right now, so hiring managers should think more about their needs. But smart bosses will think of all their staff the same way, especially if they’re trying to retain their best employees. Those who insist on a rigid return to the office that shows no understanding of how the world has changed may soon come to regret it.


ZDNet’s Monday morning opener is our first tech release of the week, written by members of our editorial team. We are a global team, so this editorial is published Mondays at 8:00 a.m. AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6:00 p.m. Eastern Sunday in the US and 10:00 p.m. GMT in London.


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