Back to Office Exposes Digital Divide between Employers and Employees
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
CONNECTICUT (WCBS 880) — At about 7:30 a.m. on a weekday morning in October, David Lewis is driving to OperationsInc headquarters in Norwalk, CT. He can spot plenty of good parking spaces available at the New Canaan train station.
“You could have found a parking spot up against the train station tracks, themselves, which were coveted spaces that used to fill at 5/5:30 in the morning. That tells me all I need to know about how people still are working remotely and are not making their way into the city,” said Lewis on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
That’s concerning to the human resources CEO who feels the same way as many of his larger clients: They want workers back in the office.
“I’m ecstatic about the ability to dynamically talk to my employees, bring somebody into a meeting, and have a quick conversation with them about an issue that just came up,” Lewis told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso. “I keep hearing that from our clients that ‘I want to go back to the way that we did it before because that worked best for us.'”
He recognizes, though, that remote work has increased productivity in many areas. One glaring outlier is employee training.
“Training for us was always about the in-person experience – about coming into a training facility, a training room, or a hotel conference center – and being able to get in front of our students and really connect with them – have a discussion versus have a lecture. That’s our secret sauce. But, we’ve had to pivot that since last year to something online,” said Lewis.
To combat so-called “Zoom fatigue,” OperationsInc has made its online training modules shorter. Lewis also admits the world has changed.
“Employees are in control and employers need to understand that,” he said.
Many workers want the flexibility that remote work allows, namely flexible work hours, absence of a commute, and the ability to pick up their kids from school.
Lewis tells his clients to find the right balance or turnover will be extremely high.
Labor issues continue to plague businesses and many prospective employees complain that their online application does not get noticed by a human resources professional.
Lewis told Connolly and Carousso that artificial intelligence has exacerbated a huge problem during the pandemic .
“A lot of companies have invested a lot of money in these applicant tracking systems but don’t know enough about how to change these filtration settings to get the candidates that they’re looking for through the door,” he said.
“They also tend to eliminate a lot of people because they’re not remembering that the settings they have – five years of this or two years of that – have to be regularly adjusted.”
Lewis told WCBS 880 another hiring issue at play is that in-person jobs are not as desirable as remote work in the current labor market.
Watch the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above for more on this story.