Sensational headlines are making recruiters distrustful of remote work. Here is the data to refute these myths

“I bet 10% or more of our teleworkers, especially programmers, will have another full-time job! We need to stop this before it escalates and gets everyone back in the office.”

That’s what the chairman of the board of a Fortune 1,000 technology company said when I met with the board to help them map out the company’s plans for the future. long-term work arrangement after the pandemic. After helping 19 organizations define their hybrid and remote working plans, I hear these opinions frequently.

So I asked him where he got the information from. He told me he sits on the boards of other companies: that’s what he hears from other board members – and he guesses the same goes here. .

“These work-from-home people have a secret: They have two jobs,” screaming a title from The Wall Street Journal. “‘It’s the biggest open secret out there’: The dual lives of white-collar workers with two jobs,” according to guard. And follow told Bloomberg, “Many telecommuters secretly arrange two full-time jobs—or more.”

These articles, and many similar articles, are mostly similar in structure. The journalist interviews an anonymous employee who works remotely, often in tech-related fields, about how they managed to get a second job working remotely. Employees talk about the extra money they can secure, which is well worth the burden of working longer hours. There are often interesting and dramatic escapes about how they manage to avoid being caught. At times, there are cautionary tales of workers being discovered – and fired.

What kind of articles play to us narrative fallacy, a dangerous mental blind spot that makes us understand the world through stories rather than facts. Certainly, stories can be useful illustrations of broader data points. But the danger lies in stories that speak to our emotions and intuitions without regard for factual evidence.

Such stories enter our minds Availability bias. This cognitive bias refers to the fact that we tend to pay attention to the information that is most abundant in our memory. Such prominence happens because articles based on these stories arouse our emotions, that is especially stimulating by the crime-like elements of these stories.

No wonder more and more traditionalist The executives and board members reading these stories will integrate these stories into their vision of reality. After all, one of our most fundamental cognitive biases is confirmation trendOur minds tend to look for information that confirms our beliefs, regardless of whether or not that information matches the truth. They capture such stories and then repeat them in C-suite and board meetings — so does the chairman of the board of the aforementioned Fortune 1,000 technology company.

Multi-tasking: the truth

To be clear, I have no personal interest in any particular outcome. My priority is getting the right information to service My customer. That’s why my first source of information on external benchmarks for employment and similar economic data is FRED–Federal Reserve Economic Data.

FRED collects a wide variety of economic data, primarily from US government agencies as well as other high-quality data sources. the source, to provide long-term trends in the US economy. FRED’s goal is to provide the most accurate information possible, so that everyone from the Federal Reserve to executives at Fortune 1,000 companies to startup founders can make the best business decisions, thus maximizing government tax revenue. FRED has no interest or stake in promoting in-office, hybrid or remote work.

Consider employment data as a percentage of all employed members of the US workforce since 2000.

As the chart below clearly shows, we are at a historic low in terms of multi-tasking employees. The peak was around the turn of the century when 5.8% of all workers took on multiple jobs. Currently, about 4.8% do so. Just before the pandemic, 5.2% percent had more than one job.

That data includes both full-time and part-time jobs. Perhaps the story will be different for those holding full-time jobs? Let’s see what FRED has to say.

Not really. 438,000 workers had two full-time jobs as of July 2022, or 0.27% of the total 163.5 million employed this year. This compares with 418,000 in July 2000, or 0.3% of that year’s total workforce of 138,800,000. So while we’re not particularly low in history in terms of workers holding two full-time jobs, we’re just about average – and 10% according to the chairman’s theory. governance is too high.

But what about all the anecdotes?

What about all the anecdotes reflected in the headlines? Not the plural of supposed anecdotes datathe chair asked me.

It is true that more and more remote workers are working two full-time jobs than in the past. However, not because the rate increased. It is still below 0.3%. That’s because many people are working remotely.

Before the pandemic, Stanford University search shows that 5% of all working days are teleworked. Two years after the pandemic, the equivalent is more than 40% of all working days.

That’s more than eight times! Thus, out of a tiny fraction of all employees holding two full-time jobs, a much larger percentage will work remotely. Unsurprisingly, we’re sure to hear more stories about it.

The fact that more such incidents will occur will not change the fact that this percentage is less than 0.3% of total workers. All those breathless headlines about people who telework twice — and the traditionalist executives buying them — ignore the underlying probability base rate, i.e. the actual likelihood of that happening. out this script.

It is a cognitive bias known as elementary rate neglect, in which we focus on individual anecdotes and do not assess the statistical likelihood of events. Likewise, although traveling by plane is about 100 times safer than driving, the drama about choking plane crashes causes people to ignore statistics and move around. moving by car, leading to more deaths.

Indeed, what executives often overlook is that many employees who held two full-time jobs before the pandemic did so at the office! Do you think people work a full eight hours a day when they arrive? Far away from it! Research shows that on average, employees work from 36% arrive 39% of the time they are in the office. The rest is spent on things like making non-work calls, reading social media and news sites, and even finding—or working—other jobs.

Trust your employees

If you can’t trust an employee to work well remotely, you can’t trust them to do well in the office.

Recent research via Citrix on knowledge workers – employees who can work remotely full-time – shows that knowledge workers forced to go to the office full-time have the least trust in their employers , compared to full-time or hybrid workers. No wonder: their bosses are showing deep distrust of their employees by forcing them to come to the office full-time when their work can be done most or even less. even remotely.

If there is no mutual trust between the employer and the employee, the employee will give up. One Gallup survey combined and remote work shows that when employees are required to work on-site but both can and want to do their jobs remotely or mostly remotely, the result is significantly lower levels of engagement and happiness—and significantly higher levels of satisfaction—exhaustion and intention to leave.

In fact, if employers removed the option to work remotely, 54% of teleworkers would likely find another job. Overall, more than three-quarters of respondents want to work less than three days per week at the office.

Internal surveys from my clients are consistent with these external surveys. For example, the Information Science Institute (ISI) of the University of Southern California, a research institution with more than 400 employees, original decision in the summer of 2021 under a three-day in-office policy. After the ISI leadership learned of my work and hired me as a consultant, in the fall of 2021 they moved to a work based on trust, flexibility, group leadership modelwith individual team leaders deciding together with their team members what works best for each group.

A survey we conducted in August 2022 found that, compared to the previous policy, 73% of employees at ISI believe the team leadership model is “much better” and 15% feel it “better”.

These responses indicate a much higher level of employee satisfaction and engagement through flexibility and trust. The same goes for retention and hiring, in a survey question that research shows has revealed this problem – namely, whether survey participants refer their colleagues. work at ISI – 56% said team leadership makes them “more likely” to work. made this recommendation and 18% said it would make them “more likely”.

Finally, the chairman of the board of directors of a Fortune 1000 technology company agreed that best pratice for the future of work is a collaborative, trust-based approach. Show trust to your employees and they will trust you back. Match their work style and interests, and they’ll reward you with greater engagement, productivity, and loyalty. And make decisions using data, not stories

Gleb Tsipursky, Ph.D. helps executives use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He’s the CEO of a consulting firm that advises the future of work Disaster prevention expert. He is the author of 7 best-selling books, including Never Go With Your Gut: How pioneering leaders make the best decisions and avoid business disaster and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Benchmarking Handbook for Best Practices for a Competitive Advantage. His expertise comes from more than 20 years advise for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac arrive xerox and more than 15 years in academia as a cognitive scientist at UNC-Chapel Hill and Ohio State.

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