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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

A Tale of Two COVID CEOs

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...

The working world has been working its way through a global pandemic since early 2020.


Many companies who thought "work from home" wasn't practical, feasible, or desirable for their businesses were forced to adapt to mandated stay-at-home orders. Work-from-home may not have been ideal, but it was certainly better than a complete cessation of operations.


Yet, to the surprise of many, their worlds did not fall apart.


In fact, some companies realized allowing employees the flexibility to work offsite not only didn't result in any productivity decreases but also enabled a reduction of very expensive office space. The senior leaders at these organizations knew that not every activity was best accomplished via videoconference, and that some in-person activities would likely be required (and even desired) once COVID was behind us. But they were motivated to find a solution that worked given the new realities of a post-pandemic world; a compromise between "in the office all the time" and "working offsite, always", understanding that happier employees and lower company costs would be what was known as a "win-win".


One such enlightened executive, Richard Houston, Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte U.K. (pictured at left, above) was quoted saying:


“We will let our people choose where they need to be to do their best work, in balance with their professional and personal responsibilities... I’m not going to announce any set number of days for people to be in the office or in specific locations. That means that our people can choose how often they come to the office, if they choose to do so at all, while focusing on how we can best serve our clients.”


And yet, other companies began counting the minutes until the world could "return to normal" (whatever that meant) and everybody could be forced back into the office.


The executives at these organizations (who you could imagine always used air quotes whenever using the phrase "work from home") likely believed employees who weren't being carefully watched during work hours were spending all their time binging Netflix, baking bread, and taking online Yoga classes instead of doing the jobs they were being paid to do.


James Gorman, Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer (pictured at right, above), is clearly one such executive. He was recently quoted saying:


"If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office. And we want you in the office... By Labor Day, I'll be very disappointed if people haven't found their way