I am a bibliophile who loves to read about new concepts and ideas. The next step almost always involves testing them out in real life.
The Times They Are a-Changin'
The world is evolving. Internet is faster than before, and digital payments have become common. Products are conveniently landing up at our doorsteps, the rich are taking fun trips to outer space, companies are testing self-driving cars, and so on. You get the drift.
Yet, one thing remains constant—the vast majority of employers seem to be stuck in their old ways, refusing to budge, and failing to adjust to the times.
Despite a shift toward remote work and digital collaboration, many workplaces still more or less follow the same routine:
- Wake up.
- Go to the office.
- Work from 9 to 5 (which is mostly a myth).
- Do what the boss says.
- Head back home.
It is high time that employers start asking their employees the three following questions in order to keep up with the times and facilitate a more rewarding work environment.
Question 1: “Where Do You Want to Work? Home or Office?”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people, especially those in the tech industry, realized that they could work effectively from home without any productivity loss. This has led to many people resigning from their jobs to take up freelancing. Some companies, however, refused to offer a permanent work-from-home option—they were adamant about dragging the workers back to the office.
These days, thanks to super-fast internet, you can . . .
- make conference calls,
- share your work screen,
- conduct meetings, and
- give presentations
. . . from home (or anywhere else with a reliable internet connection_.
Times have changed. An office job was essential when people had none of the options available today. They did not have internet, couldn't buy the required tools at home (like a printer or a scanner), and did not have online research tools like Google, so they were entirely dependent on physical discussions and interactions to finish their tasks. There is nothing stopping techies from doing their work from home now.
Nevertheless, many offices (including some larger companies) are still reluctant to offer their employees the option to work remotely.
Remote work is not everyone's cup of tea, but the least employers can do now is ask their workers about what they want. Find out where they are the most productive—in a familiar office environment or at home—then let the employees choose for once.
We now see founders and leaders from prominent companies frantically justifying office work and chiding working from home. They know many employees have tasted blood and that they want remote work to stay.
Employers get anxious about remote work because they fear that their real estate might go to waste. Big sprawling offices with the best of technology could become redundant—what corporate giant would want that?
Another reason is that micromanagement is not as easy with remote work. Toxic managers cannot hang around you, controlling your every move.
Regardless of the reasons, all companies should support remote work for more talent outreach. Such a move can help them to branch out to every corner of the world cost-effectively.
Companies like GitLab have already realized the pros of remote work. Location does not restrict them from hiring talent around the globe. GitLab has even published a guide to explain their entire work-from-home procedure. They currently employ around 1300 people across 65 countries in the world.
Question 2: “How Can I Do Better?”
Have you ever seen the management asking their employees genuinely and openly, "How can I do better?"
Does reaching the top mean you are not prone to mistakes anymore and that you do not require any more feedback? No one is perfect. I honestly feel the day you think you have learned it all is the day of your downfall. We then become closed to any new viewpoints or feedback.
I genuinely feel that employers should start asking their subordinates, "How can I do better?" so that they can . . .
- learn about their drawbacks,
- become better leaders,
- improve and change with the times,
- understand no one is perfect, and
- help their employees reach their highest potential by making changes to their management style.
I recently read a post on Quora by a manager who said he hardly gets feedback anymore, so he has to fish for it from his manager. My thought: "Why not seek feedback from your subordinates?"
Many employees are scared of providing honest feedback to their bosses, thinking it might affect their annual performance review. To address this, managers need to make themselves more helpful and approachable.
Start interacting with your team more often, ask them to join you for lunch, engage in casual chit chat, then ask for feedback on how you can do better. When you increase the comfort level and your team senses you want to do your best, they might let their guard down.
Question 3: “What Do You Think Is Lacking in the Current System?”
If your company is facing a high attrition rate, then it is time to analyze internal data. Are resignations up for a particular department, race, religion, or gender? Looking closely at data can reveal a lot of dark secrets.
The truth is that many employers do not have the time to analyze and address issues. Meeting deadlines takes precedence over what is essential: promoting an inclusive, safe, positive work environment.
It is a well-known fact that people usually do not leave companies—they leave their managers. No one likes to work with an unsupportive boss who makes them feel like their company can do without them.
Does your manager provide positive feedback in addition to constructive criticism to motivate their team? Observe how people react around the manager. Do they appear nervous, on their toes, afraid?
Approach such employees and question them on what is lacking in the current work system. Tell them you can find a solution for their issues without revealing their name to anyone. Of course, it takes a secure leader to ask for feedback genuinely. Most of us tend to be feedback-phobes.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Kalpana Iyer
Any Other Questions Employers Should Start Asking Employees? Comment Below.
Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on September 28, 2021:
Hi Chitrangada! Thank you so much for commenting! I totally agree with what you have said. It really is work from anywhere. The sooner the employers understand this, the faster they can leverage talent from all over the globe.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 27, 2021:
You have raised some important points. The Pandemic has changed the way, people work, or want to work. Yes, these questions are valid.
It's not work from home only, it's work from anywhere, nowadays, in many offices. I have seen many youngsters working from coffee joints.
Thank you for sharing this insight article!
Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on September 27, 2021:
Hi Vanita! Yes, in India, we have a long way to go. I see a lot of remote work options in the US. Unfortunately, we are lagging far behind, even if we have some of the top IT companies in the world.
Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on September 27, 2021:
Hi Peggy! Yes, definitely. Some jobs, like in sales and marketing, do require you to be in the office. Most techies have found out that they can do their work conveniently from home too. For such workers, there should be an option. Thank you for taking the time out to comment!
Vanita Thakkar on September 27, 2021:
Very valid points raised and discussed.
Good one. From what I have seen and heard, a large number of employers have a very long way to go. Let us hope and wish they can change for good.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 26, 2021:
The pandemic has had an effect on how many companies can now conduct business. Your suggested questions are all good ones. Of course, there are still some hands-on jobs that will always have to be in person.
Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on September 26, 2021:
That's awesome, JP Carlos! "Employee Climate Surveys" is a great way to put it. Something all employers should follow. I am hearing about it for the first time. Thank you for the insightful comment!
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on September 25, 2021:
I regularly conduct Employee Climate Surveys. It explores individuals needs and requirements as well as departmental concerns. It allows different parts of the organization to identify bottle necks in the process while understanding individual and departmental needs.