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Return to the office? Welcome to the bosses' great con

It seems that getting employees to return to the office may, in many cases, be something of a scam. The evidence looks damning.
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Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributor on
Portrait of excited adorable funny fun joy joyful emotional enthusiastic toothy with closed eyes entrepreneur boss chief employee playing on virtual guitar

You can catch him at home. Maybe.

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A good boss is one who respects you, admires you, helps you, frees you and pays you more than you deserve.

No, there aren't many of those, are there?

But employees understand, especially after working in several companies, that bosses can have varying styles and varying personality types.

The suspicion often remains, however, that the boss is up to something and the employees haven't quite found out what it is.

This suspicion has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bosses are spying on employees, but no one is spying on the bosses.

Going back to the office may change that. Everyone will be together again, All in it together, as a popular pandemic phrase has it.

Here, though, is further evidence that this returning to the office thing may not be quite the corporate kumbaya being suggested.

You see, thanks to my colleague Steve Ranger, I've just collapsed under research performed by Future Forum, a Slack-powered grouping of influential types that includes the likes of the Boston Consulting Group.

This so-called global Pulse study asked the world's employees about their feelings and experiences. 

34% of so-called knowledge workers -- because, of course, some workers have no knowledge of anything -- are now back at their offices. This is the highest percentage the study has found since June 2020.

Stunningly, this statistic has coincided with employee sentiment sinking and increased complaints of stress and destroyed work-life balance.

Perhaps you think too many employees are whiners. Perhaps you think they don't know when they have it good. Perhaps you're a boss.

I only conjecture this because it seems many bosses may have, well, conned their employees into returning.

Also: When software goes wrong, bosses blame employees (if they don't like them)

Please let me offer you the first part of my next sentence and then offer you some choices: "Those in executive positions are twice as likely as non-executives...."

"..to have bought themselves a new car in the last year"?

"..to have enjoyed two vacations in the last year"?

"..to have received bigger percentage raises and bonuses in the last year"?

All may be possible, but that's not what this particular research indicates.

Instead, the answer is that executives are twice as likely as non-executives not to be working five days a week at the office.

They drag you back, they make you promises, and they talk of teamwork. And then they lounge in their home offices while you've just got stuck in traffic, trying to get to work on time.

How can this be? How much gall does this take? How long before employees realize?

Or are they so used to the boss not being there a lot of the time that they won't immediately notice the boss doesn't always turn up in the first place?

It may seem obvious that calling your staff back to the office should involve you, dear boss, being there too. It seems there's only what works for them for too many bosses, though.

You work for them, and that's all they need to know.

And then they wonder why people quit. Or perhaps they don't.

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