All eyes are on whether or not, how often, and when companies will require employees to work in the office. Despite its popularity with employees, some employers worry a fully remote working strategy will be detrimental to progress and innovation.
But is there a valid reason for that fear?
In response to mandatory lockdowns in March of 2020, many companies were forced to close their corporate offices without warning. Scrambling, leaders were left with no other choice than to embrace a remote working strategy just to keep their business operations afloat.
At the onset of the pandemic, leaders scrambled to get employees set up to work from home. How can we pivot to a remote working strategy? What will this mean for performance and the bottom line? What tools are required for a successful remote work strategy?
Tech leaders sprang into action.
First, the sudden implementation of remote working strategy meant unanticipated needs had to be addressed. Carefully planned IT budgets were flipped on their heads to free up room to invest in remote working technologies such as video conferencing software. Tech leaders and their teams acted fast to build out their remote-working infrastructure and get employees back up and running quickly.
Over the course of the past couple of years some essential questions have surfaced: Are in-person meetings better than remote meetings? Did productivity decrease? Is having a remote work strategy linked to employee burnout?
Which strategies for working remotely will remain in the post-pandemic era? Will remote work stand in the way of company growth? How do you manage a surge in remote work? Will a remote working strategy have a negative impact on progress and innovation? Collaboration? Company culture?
Why? Because if anything encapsulates the events that have played out over the past two years, it’s change. Though remote working didn't originate with the COVID-19 crisis, concerns about remote work did become a more pressing issue once the pandemic hit.
An effective remote working strategy has huge benefits for hiring and recruitment. No longer limited to hiring just local talent, a remote working strategy helps pave the way for a greater amount of diversity within the company.
A pre-pandemic analysis by McKinsey showed 20% of the workforce would be just as effective working remotely for three to five days a week as they would be working at the office. Yet, in 2019 — one year before the pandemic, research from NCCI found that roughly 75% of employees had never worked from home.
After two years of success, the promise of flexibility is changing public opinion.
With the 'Great Resignation' and demand for talent, it's important to keep remote working strategies and flexibility in mind as company's map out their goals. In an interview with CNBC, Rey Ramirez, co-founder of Thrive HR Consulting, offered this advice, "Right now, if you’re not offering flexible or remote program, you’re missing out on 50% to 70% of candidates."
Findings from an EY survey of 1,000 global business leaders show employers are not being proactive enough in the face of high turnover rates and mass resignation trends. Despite the awareness that 90% of workers want more workplace flexibility, just 40% have actually communicated their plans to their workforce.
Here are a few reasons some employers worry about the impacts of remote work.
Remote work sometimes blurs the lines that separate work and home, which is a major risk factor for employee burnout. There is also the concern that onsite workers may benefit more from their presence in the office when it comes time to determine who is eligible for a raise, promotion, and other professional development opportunities.
We’re entering a new year, and hardly a day goes by without hearing another debate over the future of remote work.
Experts and thought-leaders from a wide range of disciplines continue to explore these questions — diving into the latest research, debating the potential implications, comparing strategies for working remotely, and listing out the pros and cons of managing a remote work model.
But it's an ongoing discussion without much consensus.
While some see working from home as a threat to collaboration and team building, others say remote working strategies offer more opportunities for connection and collaboration.
Articles with hyperbolic titles like Top 400 Hidden Dangers of Working From Home or How Offsite Work is Tearing at the Fabric of Company Culture warn employers about the dangers of a remote work strategy. Topics range everywhere from decreased productivity and stifled innovation to cybersecurity risks and harm to the bottom line to company culture deterioration and depletion of community.
An equal number of articles with titles such as Employees Demand WFH As Turnover Rates Surge and 28 Reasons Companies Without Remote Options Are Doomed to Fail Forever will follow, written to illustrate the benefits of remote work — from strategic leadership and competitive advantages to employee well-being and retention to work-life balance and expanding the talent pool.
There's a broader pattern of businesses clinging stubbornly to long-standing traditions. Efforts to resist the tides of change — a phenomenon that can be seen across many eras, geographies, and industries. Throughout history, there are examples of leaders digging in their heels to uphold tradition when people start questioning conventional assumptions about work.
But the pandemic is increasing awareness for the vital role digital transformation plays in business growth.
We can take the lessons we've learned over the course of the pandemic to create a remote work strategy that's even more efficient. Nearly two years after it began, what we thought we knew about making a remote working strategy work has changed.
So, what have we learned?
Some difficult decisions have to be made about in-person work.
Here are the keys to a great remote working strategy:
People are paying close attention to employers at the moment, as everyone looks to see how a remote work strategy factors into their employer's future plans.
In a survey of 800 employers conducted by HR and workplace benefits consulting firm Mercer, 94% of employers said productivity levels had stayed the same or increased compared to pre-pandemic rates, even with employees working remotely.
Thanks to the hard work of their IT teams, the shift to remote work was relatively easy for many workers. According to findings from Pew Research Center, 75% or more of employees who work remotely all or most of the time said it was easy getting the technology and equipment they needed to do their job.
Remote workers and hybrid employees who had access to the right tools had the highest levels of productivity and engagement, according to one study. That study also found that remote workers who feel they had what they needed to work from home wer 2x more likely to be engaged.
Great workplace tech has a few common characteristic: they're simple, powerful, scalable, and highly effective. They need to be, to keep up with the needs of today's workplace.
Workplace experience platforms like Teem are making it easier for workers of all kinds to personalize their journey and engage with the work environment. For a first-hand look, request a demo.