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The Hunchback of WFH

Marketing, Discussion, Employee Experience, Newsletter, Work Leader Weekly
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Marketing, Discussion, Employee Experience, Newsletter, Work Leader Weekly


For readers in the U.S., I hope you had a great Juneteenth. It’s the third time the holiday has been celebrated across the country. Getting back to work, in this week’s newsletter, we cover the hottest perk in tech recruiting, EX for deskless workers, and using shirts to engage and retain workers. But first, is remote work turning us into mutants? 

Let’s jump into it. 

Here come the crab-handed remote workers

Racoon eyes. Clawed hands. Depressed and lonely. Overweight and hunchbacked. 

No, it’s not a villain in the latest Disney movie. It might be you if you continue to work from home, at least according to the almost always-accurate Daily Mail

Once a rare treat, working from home has become the norm for millions of people following the COVID-19 pandemic.

But a grotesque new model may have you asking to go back into the office.Furniture At Work has revealed what home-workers could look like by the year 2100 – and it’s not a pretty sight.

It’s no shock that the CGI model looks like hell. It was created by Furniture at Work, a company that would be happy to sell your boss a chair for £75 that would certainly debilitate you, too, if you used it every day instead of sitting at your dining room table. Apparently, Furniture at Work sees more business potential from people heading into the office with their conscripted office furniture rather than taking its chances competing with the direct-to-consumer suppliers who are outfitting home offices. 

While the illustration has racked up its share of ridicule, its oblivious depiction of WFH employees misses a more accurate point: Proper equipment does matter, both in the office and at home. I’ve worked at plenty of places with bad equipment. That isn’t limited to just furniture you sit and work in, but equipment used in operation areas as well. Work leaders should pay attention to this stuff, even for at-home and hybrid workers. If someone gets hurt because you won’t spring for a chair or proper monitor, you can have some issues.

Sure, I could work from my bed like Marcel Proust, if not for the social stigma of occasionally jumping on Zoom calls with a bed frame in the background. But most of the remote workers I know — before and after COVID sent millions of people to their home hallway desks and bedroom tables — eventually find something that is ergonomically neutral compared to what they get from the office. It’s just not pleasant to work every day in a way that’s uncomfortable. I can tell you that my desk setup is significantly better than anything I ever had at the office.

While you don’t need to heed the call of bad research and clickbait, let’s make sure.

Weekly LinkedIn poll result

Employers seem ready to claw people back to the office but how far back to pre-2020 normal can we get? 

Just 7% of folks think we’re heading that way, with 57% saying we’ll continue to see more people go back to the office but not back to previous norms. We’ll see how things go!

Quick hits from around the web

What else is happening?

  • The Hottest New Perk in Tech Is Freedom. Small (and even not-so-small) companies are finding competitive advantages in using remote work to help with hiring.  (Vox)
  • The Head of DEI Should Not Report to HR. Recruiting doesn’t want to report to HR. Learning doesn’t want to report to HR. Now, DEI doesn’t want to report to HR. (Fast Company)
  • HR Analytics: Why Perfect Might Be the Enemy of Good. There’s bad data, and then there’s imperfect (but useful) data. Don’t confuse the two. (HR Zone)
  • 24% of Employees Are Working for the Worst Boss Ever. Are you sure we don’t need to reinvest in management and leadership training? (Employee Benefit News)
  • Why Leading Brands Need to Invest in the Employee Experience for Deskless Workers. Good EX isn’t just for office workers. (Forbes)
  • The Fourth Domain for the Future of Work: Countries. Employment laws, economic conditions, and job quality can be as much about the country versus the company, making countries an important consideration. (Unleash)
  • High Risk, High Reward: How Leadership Should Embrace AI in the Workforce. Companies should focus on mitigating risks, ensuring ethical use, and maximizing the potential benefits of AI rather than quashing it. (WorkLife)
  • Hybrid Work Leads to Mid-Week Crowding and Need to Retain Space. Are you trying to save money by downsizing your office space? Consider that people don’t want to be in your office on Mondays or Fridays.  (Benefits Pro)
  • State Child Labor Rollbacks Pose Enforcement Nightmare for DOL. This is going to be bad. (Bloomberg Law)
  • Sanders Launching Investigation Into Amazon Labor Practices. Reigning in one of the world’s largest companies won’t be easy. (The Hill)
  • Employers See Well-being as Crucial to Workforce Strategy, Study Finds. A few years late on this, but it’s good to see companies connect people’s health to how they can contribute at work. (Benefits Pro)
  • Generative Microapps Can Augment the Human Workforce. This is the real short-term potential of AI at work in its current form. (Gartner)
  • Motivational Workplace Music May Motivate Lawsuit. Hand me the aux cable and let’s listen to some Rage Against the Machine. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

The key to retention?  T-shirts.  Lots and lots of T-shirts.

I know you might’ve thought retention and engagement might be best solved by reconsidering working conditions or compensation. Have you thought about a better shirt?

Taco Bell — the California-based Yum Brand subsidiary and go-to late-night eatery for college students everywhere — has employed quirky strategies to engage restaurant and corporate employees alike. Most recently, it partnered with an artist to design a trendy T-shirt for its store uniforms, which Taco Bell says was a hit among its 260,000 restaurant workforce, many of whom skew younger and belong to the TikTok generation.


It may sound like I’m discounting the role of the uniform in employee engagement, and you’d be absolutely correct. I wore a tuxedo shirt, bow tie, and a cumberbund to work for a video store as a teenager. I know that a uniform can be a negative. But even the best uniform is a net neutral.

That’s it for this week!


Lance Haun

Vice President & Market Insights

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