FEATURED STORY OF THE WEEK
Is Remote Work Here to Stay?
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations across sectors to extend remote work privileges to their employees. Many quickly launched remote work programs for the very first time. As restrictions ease, both business leaders and employees are realizing one truth—remote work models are here to stay, with benefits to both parties.
In a recent poll by Forrester, “half of workers polled say they want to continue working remotely at least part of the time after the pandemic.” Forrester’s analysts believe as an employee, “it shouldn’t be a ‘favor’ the company does fore you; it should be a function of your role.” Indeed, employees have realized dozens of personal and professional benefits as a result of remote work.
A Hybrid Work Environment Coming into Focus
Still, “44% are eager to return to the office when it is safe to do so,” according to Forrester. As a result, business leaders are exploring the benefits of “hybrid” business models, which combine remote work with on-site work in a way that optimizes both productivity and employee experiences. Those leaders can strategize which teams or employees will work remotely, which must be present in the office, and which will do both.
A hybrid work model that normalizes and optimizes remote work for the long term is coming into focus. For example, just as “initial studies are showing that remote work leads to greater productivity,” as Forbes describes, “firms are investing in programs and policies that boost employee wellness and engagement—a key to conquering some of the challenges associated with having a dispersed workforce.” There are opportunities to combine considerations like employee preferences, technology capabilities, cost savings, and productivity as a result.
But are employers willing to support a hybrid work model?
Some of the world’s leading companies are not only allowing but encouraging their employees to work from home—some on a permanent basis. Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter announced in 2021 new long-term policies that support at least some remote work.
There are clear business advantages to these policies. Establishing a permanent hybrid model means employers have access to talent in nearly any geography. They can reduce overhead associated with equipment and space. They can provide employees with greater flexibility in terms of hours since they needn’t travel to do their jobs. The world’s largest companies can reduce their carbon footprint as well.
But there are also limitations, especially for smaller companies without the resources or technology infrastructure the world’s largest companies enjoy. Next, we’ll take a closer look at hybrid work strategies, and how organizations can overcome the most common challenges.
The Benefits & Opportunities of Perpetual Remote Work
As employees have grown accustomed to remote work and your competitors optimize their own models, now is the time to consider your own strategy for a successful hybrid workforce. Here’s a closer look at some challenges, opportunities, and benefits, including use cases demonstrating how you can succeed.
Reach a Larger Talent Pool with Purpose-Built Digital Solutions
Even as recently as the start of the century, access to talent has been limited by geography. High-speed internet and sophisticated tools for communication are changing this dynamic—but not without remote strategies and capabilities for hiring and onboarding.
In 2021, companies continue to use traditional approaches to talent acquisition—even when recruiting remotely. Many are adopting generic videoconferencing and document-sharing tools to supplement this. But it is companies with purpose-built HR tools for recruiting, vetting, interviewing, and onboarding remote talent that are best equipped to take advantage of this new environment.
Reduce Physical Infrastructure Costs with Strategic Approaches to Work
Overhead costs are unavoidable, but companies can greatly reduce them through more efficient use of office space, storage, hardware, and equipment. Hybrid work models give some employers opportunities to reduce their investment in these areas—thanks to fewer workers in physical spaces.
These changes may not happen overnight. However, companies who begin strategizing now may find better office locations or reduce their use of leased space. They may replace expensive physical tools like phones and on-premise computers with cloud-based solutions that connect with employees’ own equipment as well.
Optimize the Employee Experience
Not all remote employees have had an ideal work-from-home experience. “While productivity may have gone up, many employees report feeling anxious and burned out,” McKinsey reports. “Unless leaders address the sources of employee anxiety, pandemic-style productivity gains may prove unsustainable in the future.”
Employers and employees can enjoy the best of both home and in-office work environments with the right strategic approach. That means providing office space for employees who need it, helping employees achieve the best experience at home, and offering employees the flexibility to alternate.
Most of all, they must communicate these opportunities to their employees. “Organizations with clearer communication are seeing benefits to employee well-being and productivity,” says McKinsey, where collaboration, connectivity, and inclusion are among employees’ most sought-after qualities.
Enable Greater Autonomy through Project Management Tools
There are some things lost when changing the dynamics of physical work; namely, the causal tap on the shoulder, the informal gathering in the employee lounge, and the impromptu lunch between department heads. But while emerging, cloud-based project management tools can’t replace these experiences, they can allow for more effective methods for communication and collaboration.
Modern project management tools are entirely digital, and capture both traditional workflows and new ways of communicating with colleagues—all while employees retain access to their own digital resources. Conversations between two colleagues can be seen by other team members, for example, often in ways that align with relevant projects. Employees can easily keep track of progress—even when they aren’t involved in some of the steps involved. Together, these capabilities empower both individuals and teams; they allow for greater speed and business value as well.
Partner with Uvation for a Successful Hybrid Work Model
Don’t lose sight of what matters: the needs of your business, and your employees. While your competitors approach these challenges in a fragmented way, you can shape and create a more holistic hybrid work strategy. You can access cost-effective, flexible digital tools that support you on your journey as well.
The consultants at Uvation are here to help. Book an online session with a strategy expert now and take your first step towards a more complete and enduring hybrid work strategy.