Overheard on the NYC subway and Quiet Quitting

We’ve all heard conversations on the subway we wish we could…unhear. Right? But this one was one we actually leaned in to listen to (and if they’re from your company, you should too!). Here’s how it went:

Person 1: Are you working from home?

Person 2: Yeah, but it’s bad. I feel like my productivity is so bad. But today I did my laundry, so that’s good. 

Person 1: (laughs) same here. And Fridays oh my god forget it. I basically do nothing. I do laundry, take a nap and sometimes move my mouse to look active.

Person 2: (laughs) I should be going in. The CEO said back in the office 3 days a week, I started going 3 days, then it turned to 2, then it turned to 1, and my boss never noticed. So now I don’t go in at all. They haven’t said anything yet, so I guess I’ll just wait until they say something. The only people that care are the CEO and CFO. 

Person 3 (probably wondering if he should be slacking more): We’re in 4 days a week actually but yeah, Fridays man. And that reminds me, I should do laundry.

So…. there you have it. We know this is only one version of “working from home” and some people are perfectly productive. The problem is that we’ve heard this version a lot. You’ve probably heard of “quiet quitting” and if you’re a decision maker, wondered how to prevent it. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have some (from this conversation, from conversations with clients and from speaking to different decision makers all day every day). 

Here are 3 takeaways to:

Stay aligned on what back to work looks like: if the C suite wants everyone back, but doesn’t have buy-in from everyone else, you get the above. And you definitely don’t want the above, unless you’re their laundromat. Whether it’s 2 days a week, 3 days or no days, employees need consistent communication on expectations and accountability to stick to them. 

Give employees an office experience, not just an office space: it’s no longer enough to have a nice office. Employees want an experience – many clients are having free company lunches and happy hours on office days to promote collaboration and idea share, or focusing on new office space with tenant amenities like outdoor space and event space as a must have instead of a nice to have (one of our clients has a gelato machine and a bar). COVID forced many companies to rethink their culture and how they invest in employees – when done right, your office space can be used as a tool to create the culture you want that will attract and keep top talent. 

Rethink how you use your office space: Good atmosphere for working = employees want to be there  = better productivity, better ideas and better growth (for employees and the company). Many companies are getting rid of dedicated desks and instead creating collaboration spaces where employees can come in 3 days a week and share ideas over coffee (and free food, of course), have small meetings in the open air or just pick a spot that suits their mood, pop in their headphones and get to work. This article talks about how LinkedIn, Marriot, etc are rethinking their floor plans for better collaboration. 

Have you heard of the fomonoma “Quiet Quitting”? Like many, people are working from home, but they're not actually working from home. You find productivity goes down and they’re taking care of other things besides work. Some people get complacent and get used to the lifestyle of working from home and stop working all together. With bosses not checking in and no one keeping them accountable, these people are riding the wave of cash flow while doing little to no work. 

Here are a couple of examples of quiet quitting:

  • An employee who was getting paid even though they aren’t actually working. This person could be avoiding emails, texts and calls. 
  • An employee who’s disengaged. These make up about 50% of the workforce. Working from home has allowed mainly younger adults to slack on their work and only meet the basic requirements of their job description. 

How can you fix this? Well first by providing good leadership and checking in on your employees more than once a week. Keeping them on track with the tasks at hand - without being a micromanager of course - finding that happy medium can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Second, you can have them come back into the office 2-3 times a week so they have the opportunity to be around others who go above and beyond with their jobs. They say you are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with ... am I right?

The Takeaway:

Now what do we do with all of this information? We recalibrate the way we lead and find you a new office space that can meet the expectations of your employees. With these two improvements, we can make a significant decline to the quiet quitting saga.