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Saturday 30 April 2022

Maslow was wrong

Almost since the very beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been working on our “back to work” strategy – new normal, time to review what permanent changes we can make as a result, blah blah. 

Amongst the myriad changes that we have made – mostly positive in my view, but I am probably biased - it seems to be parking (or the lack thereof going forwards) that has caused the most employee angst. The company logic of course is that if employees are not going to be on-site full time there is no need to pay for additional city-centre parking spaces.

Those that are most stressed about parking are the most junior in the company and the most senior. I have sympathy for the junior members of the organisation – they are obviously least well paid, and the prospect of having to shell out for a public car park every time they come in the office is obviously stressful and makes a big financial difference. Some of our offices are not the easiest to get to by public transport and there might be the added complication of kids being dropped off at school or nursery etc. 

It’s the more senior cohort and their reaction that interests me. I recently took part in an external “round table” event where a bunch of consultants tried to sell us services to things we already knew or had already done that was about best practice sharing and networking across industries. 

According to the research presented, those aged 48 and over are the age group most likely to want to return to the office. Now, first, as someone aged *cough* 48, I can say I’m definitely not in this camp, but then I’m an anti-social introverted grumpy old woman who has no desire to go back to spending 2 and a half hours of my day commuting when I can spend that extra time exercising, learning Greek and baking sourdough bread in bed. Apparently it’s to do with the fact that people aged 48 and over are all in “senior management positions”. A quick internet search tells me that a third of all workers in 2020 were aged 50 and over. I can’t actually believe that a third of workers are also senior managers, but I may be putting 50 and 50 together to make 4…

Anyway, prior to the pandemic, access to parking was based on rank (and length of service) and removal of the automatic right to park on-site therefore represents an obvious removal of a perk. The howls of outrage were deafening. Never mind the fact that this is the group of employees that can most afford the odd public car park and the fact that they will probably be spending less than 40% of their previous time in the office in future. In fact, the only other time I can think of that has been such "noise" was when the free Friday fruit baskets were removed a few years ago due to cost cutting. 

The message? Don't make us go back in the office, but don't you dare take away everything that was there before!

"Maslow's Hierarchy for Geek Events" by davidflanders is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.


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