Will remote work become the new norm?
Will companies shift to flexible working as the new standard, even after it’s safe to return to the office?
The coronavirus pandemic has kicked off the largest work from home experiment of our time, and through that experiment we have learnt a lot. We’ve learnt a new skill — working remotely — and found underlying problems we didn’t know we had. Fortunately, some companies have actually found success and new opportunities throughout the experiment.
Most organisations are doing what they can to ensure their teams are set up to be as productive and happy as possible while working from home. But how deep should we dive into solving these problems? Is it enough to implement band-aid solutions in the hope we can return to normal work in the office in a month or two? Or do we need to really start to design longer term solutions?
Let’s move on from the reactive band-aid solutions and get real. Don’t throw away your new skills and just go back to ‘normal’ in a few months time. Now is an opportunity to create a new working model.
Why should organisations offer flexible working even after COVID?
I’ve worked with progressive companies like Google who have been promoting flexible ways of working for some time — including before COVID — and for good reason. Remote work presents an opportunity to boost employee engagement and retention, lower company overheads and access better and cheaper talent pools — like people in regional Australia or even overseas.
In fact, here are some of the actual numbers:
- Companies allowing remote work have 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t.
- 76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
- People who work remotely at least once a month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive.
- The number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005.
- 4.3 million people in the USA work from home at least half the time.
- 40% of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule.
- 16% of companies exclusively hire remote workers.
The proof is in the pudding. People want the flexibility, and companies that offer it will continue to succeed over those that don’t. However, it shouldn’t be an all or nothing debate. Nobody should be forced to choose full time in the office or full time at home. The answer lies in giving your staff the freedom and flexibility to choose how they want to work.
What if you don’t trust your employees to work from home?
Studies show remote employees actually work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year.
If you don’t trust someone to work from home, you probably shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.
If you don’t trust teams of people to work remotely, then there’s likely an underlying cultural problem that needs to be resolved.
What would the ideal future workplace look like?
We know the benefits of remote work, but the office has some clear upsides too — like face to face collaboration, and the water cooler conversations and human interaction that a lot of us miss. So if we need to offer employees some kind of hybrid model that blends both remote and office time, what should the workplace of the future actually look like?
Click here to find out.
In all honesty, we haven’t perfected remote or office-based work yet.
Teams working from home are still tackling common challenges like motivation, enablement, visibility and accountability.
At the same time, a significant amount of work still needs to be done to design the right office environment for teams returning to the office.
Even open and flexible working spaces aren’t the right solution. Don’t believe me?
Organisations need to trust their employees and really promote flexible working.
They should empower employees to drive real outcomes and deliver real value for customers, from anywhere in the world. Productivity shouldn’t be measured by the number of emails sent or the number of hours spent at the office. And we need to create the right environments — both at home and in the workplace — if we want to get it right.