Viewpoint: When it comes to remote work, many companies are doing exactly what their competitors want

The other day someone posed a very interesting question: “If you were the CEO of a company and you could dictate whether your closest competitor chose to be mostly remote or mostly in the office, which would you choose?”

I had never really thought of the remote work issue from that perspective. However, as a former hiring partner at an Am Law 100 law firm, and for the past 21 years as the owner of a commercial real estate brokerage firm, I can tell you with 100% certainty that I would love it if my competitors chose to be mostly remote.

I don’t think I’m alone in my choice.

Most CEOs believe that good things happen when their people are together in the same location. There is more ideation, innovation, and professional development when people are in the office working together. There is also more bonding and a better company culture.

What is remarkable to me is that so many companies are doing exactly what their competitors want them to do. That’s crazy.

Yes, I understand we are in a tight labor market and the competition for talent is fiercer than it’s been in generations. Today’s workers want flexibility including the ability to work remotely.

However, there is a difference between flexibility and what is happening today. Office buildings around the country are virtually empty even as many companies are strongly encouraging and, in many cases, even mandating some minimum number of days in the office for their workers.

To the extent employees can do their job remotely, they should have the ability to flex their schedules occasionally to accommodate personal commitments or even have some quiet work time. Frankly, many executives and business owners have always had this type of work flexibility and there’s no reason others in the organization shouldn’t have the same freedoms if it doesn’t affect their productivity. The problem is that the exception has become the rule.

If most executives would love their competitors to be mostly remote, they are getting their wish. It’s extremely rare in business when our competitors do exactly what we hoped they would do. The question now is: Which companies can get their workers back to the office so that they can take advantage of their good fortune?

Glenn Blumenfeld is a principal at Tactix Real Estate Advisors

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