The top 3 things bosses should get rid of in 2024, says CEO—remote work isn’t one of them

Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs.
Owl Labs

Frank Weishaupt wants to share a wake-up call for bosses in 2024.

Weishaupt is a boss himself: He's the CEO of Boston-based Owl Labs, which makes video conferencing equipment, and has more than 20 years of executive experience at companies ranging from startups to Yahoo.

Over those two decades, and especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, Weishaupt says he's observed and learned from shifts in the workplace. Right now, he is embracing flexible work, believes employees shouldn't be micromanaged and encourages his workforce to dress comfortably, he says.

Here's why he wants other CEOs to embrace those same concepts this year, too.

Stop trying to get workers back into the office

As the tug-of-war between leadership and employees around remote work continues, Weishaupt says traditional in-office expectations should cease.

"We hire people to do a job. I don't hire people to watch them work," he says. "I do love the in-office participation when we get it, but I want it to be organic. The office has a role, but mandating that you must come into the office on this day, at this time, and leave no earlier than this time — that is a dead concept."

Companies like Amazon and Disney have enacted stringent in-office work policies in recent months, with some citing reasons like office costs and employee productivity. But most bosses want to work from home as much as, if not more than, their employees do, according to a survey of 3,000 American workers and managers from software firm Checkr.

Resolve that dissonance once and for all, Weishaupt suggests.

"The office has a role, but it's more task based," he says. "If I have meetings on Wednesday morning that need to be in person, in the office, I will be. And if I choose to be in the office the remainder of the day to finish my work, I'll do it. But if I want to do it in another location, I should be able to have that flexibility."

Embrace a more casual dress code

Flexible work arrangements may challenge your office's traditional dress code of suits, below-the-knee skirts and dress shoes. Indeed, more than seven in 10 employees in the United States dress in business casual attire or streetwear to work, according to a September 2023 poll from Gallup.

Weishaupt says he's noticed that employees are more productive, relaxed and feel less restricted when they're able to incorporate casual wear into the office.

"When it comes to dress codes, people want their environment to mimic the comfort that they have in an alternative location, whether that be home or somewhere else," he says. "So they don't want to have to think and act and dress differently for one location versus the other."

Many workplace dress codes are legal, but can have exclusionary or discriminatory undertones for people of different genders, cultures and ethnic backgrounds — particularly when it comes to topics like hair styles, clothing length and body modifications.

They're "another concept that doesn't make a lot of sense [in this] day and age," Weishaupt says.

Ditch the employee tracking software

Last year, social media giant Meta ramped up its employee surveillance efforts, promising to enforce its three-days-per-week office mandate with monthly badge data reviews. Similarly, Tesla workers in Buffalo, New York, told Bloomberg last year that the automaker tracked their keystrokes to ensure they were working.

Employees endure those kinds of conditions for a variety of reasons: The allure of a paycheck is strong, for example, as is the feeling of working for a high-profile company at the top of its industry.

But such tactics are unnecessary, says Weishaupt. They can hurt trust between bosses and their employees, and deter prospective talent from seeking employment at the company.

"If you want to look at your aggregate badge swipes, and how many people are using the office and you want to optimize your space, I think there's certainly value in that," he says. "[However], employee activity is a really slippery slope where you're going to lose trust ... And it wouldn't be my first stop to go somewhere where they said, 'Hey, just want to let you know, before you start, that we're going to be monitoring your activity at all times.'"

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I was fired from Facebook in my 20s—now I make $3.3 million running my own tech company
Fired From Facebook In My 20s—Now I Make $3.3 Million Running My Own Company