Remote working is here to stay. Google recently said they won’t bring anyone back to the office until July of 2021. Facebook expects to have at least half of their employees working remotely, and Twitter is allowing employees to work where they believe they are most productive and creative.
These tech icons are taking a drastically different approach than they did a few years ago. Along with many others, they pioneered the idea of snack bars, meals served on-site, beer taps, game rooms, and other perks to keep people at the office and engaged for as long as possible.
We’re seeing similar scenarios play out with traditional road warrior roles, who have come to the realization that video conferencing has come a long way and can be just as effective, and much less stressful, than traveling for face-to-face meetings.
With productivity gains and positive employee satisfaction during the mandatory remote working policy over the past few months, many companies are now rethinking how they will move forward with office space and remote working policies.
We should be careful about overreacting to such a small sample size that was mandated to us. Satya Nadella of Microsoft is not sold on fully remote workforces, recently remarking to the New York Times that it would be, “replacing one dogma with another. What does burnout look like? What does Mental health look like?” He went on to say, “What I miss is when you walk into a physical meeting, you are talking to the person that is next to you, you’re able to connect with them for the two minutes before and after.”
It is going to be difficult to predict what workforce arrangements will look like in a year or two from now. There is no doubt that we have collectively learned a lot over the past few months about how to stay connected, focused, and productive away from the office. And companies are realizing there may be savings in downsizing office space, limiting travel, and finding employees in rural areas who are just as qualified and don’t need to relocate to higher cost of living areas.
BCG recommends, “We urge organizations to stop and reflect before bringing any workers (beyond the first wave of critical returnees) back and instead pause to set a long-term ambition for the future of work.” Through their Workplace of the Future study, they found that companies anticipate 40% of employees preferring to work remote, and more than a third of companies believe that ¼ of their workforce will prefer a hybrid arrangement where they can work at home on certain days and be in the office on other days.
To develop your vision for a sustainable remote work plan, consider alternative remote options. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. There could be alternating days or weeks for teams to come in. There could be specific days each month where everyone is in the office. If you have multiple offices, consider hot-desking options for employees who may travel for work but also wish to come into an office.
Additionally, consider the roles or departments individually. Job responsibilities differ by team and some teams may require more time together or have a need for in-office equipment. BCG recommends focusing on six areas to build an effective remote working solution.
- Routines, tools, and capability building
- Cyber and internal security
- Coaching and development
- Productivity and performance management
- Senior leadership and culture
- Recruiting and onboarding
These areas are a great place to start, but only you can plan, build, and evolve the right remote working for your organization. With a slow reopening process, take your time and get input from other leaders as well as employees along the way. And if you have questions about remote working and how it can represent your culture, let us know.