Adam Grant’s Message for Leaders Who Are Calling Employees Back to the Office: ‘Don’t mistake presence for performance’

Man working remotely

Renowned organizational psychologist and professor of management at Wharton, Adam Grant, delivered a cautionary message to employers grappling with the challenges of transitioning back to the office: “Don’t mistake presence for performance.”

Grant’s succinct statement, shared as a LinkedIn post featuring a screenshot of his tweet is a powerful reminder that the true benefits of in-person work lie in fostering collaboration and nurturing a strong organizational culture. These aspects of work generate not only enduring outcomes but also surpass immediate productivity gains in significance.

Adam Grant tweet

Although one could argue that this is a commendable motive for encouraging a return to in-person work, a successful transition back to the office, particularly in the context of a hybrid model, necessitates well-defined objectives. 

In fact, Dave Stephenson, Airbnb’s CFO and head of employee experience, emphasized the effectiveness of the company’s “Live and Work Anywhere” policy just last week in an interview with CHRO Daily. He emphasized that while the home rental company still values and anticipates in-person interactions among employees, managers are encouraged to plan and organize these occasions in advance thoughtfully.

Grant reiterated this sentiment in his LinkedIn post, stating, “Showing up is not a sign of commitment. It’s an act of compliance” This interpretation carries some validity, as demonstrated by the significant opposition expressed by employees of Amazon and Apple when their flexibility was compromised without a well-justified explanation.


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