There is no doubt that the coronavirus greatly impacted our lives, especially in the way we do business and how we might conduct business in the future. A McKinsey survey indicated that most executives envision the future of business as some combination of remote and on-site work, but most have no detailed plan for how it will work. There is good reason to desire a future with remote working options as another study of more than 800,000 employees at Fortune 500 companies found that most reported stable or increased productivity levels after employees started working from home.
The US Chamber of Commerce identified four ways how businesses can adapt to the new normal.
Invest in modern technology
“The modern workforce is increasingly mobile, collaborative and dynamic and comprises multi-generations, all with differing communication preferences,” Stacey Epstein, CEO of Zinc notes about the nature of remote work.
Remote work is only possible through technology. Communication tools like Slack or collaborative programs like Google Docs allow team members to work together, while video conferencing tools allow team members to communicate effectively. It is likely that work software will evolve even more and become the preferred form of communication. AI will likely play a major role in managing remote staff.
Remote team training
Taking the time to train yourself and employees in whichever collaborative platforms your business uses will help to avoid future frustrations. A recent study found that insufficient training poses a huge challenge in the remote working space. Employers have concerns regarding employee productivity, focus and engagement. Managers often will need help with regards to performance evaluation of remote workers and expectation management.
Meet in person (if safe or possible)
Taking the time to have your team meet in person can help to provide a sense of togetherness and preserve company culture. While video conferencing can save on commute time, in-person team building exercises can help to strengthen a team. It is important to remember that whenever we are amongst other people, social distancing practices should be observed.
Trust your employees
“Employees need to be managed by results ─ what they do, rather than where, how or when they do it,” Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics shared that trust is fundamental.
Technology should be used for collaboration and not surveillance, although this might be a temptation for leaders who are new in the role. Virtual micromanagement can lead to a breakdown in employee trust. Employees who feel constantly surveilled can become distracted and lose motivation. The toxic culture that can result from virtual micromanagement could lead to companies losing some of their best employees. Technology can be leveraged to increase transparency and communication across remote teams, which can mean implementing systems to track progress on deliverables. Managers are better able to support employees when there is transparency in work and expectations.
Companies switching to long-term remote work
Embracing the work from trend Atlassian announced that their employees can work from home permanently according to Flexjobs. Some other companies embracing longer-term remote employment include American Express and Capital One where certain employees will be working from home through Labor Day 2021.
Dropbox fully embraced remote and hybrid work by allowing all employees to work from home permanently, turning existing office space into Dropbox Studios where employees can choose to work.
Facebook approached the hybrid model slightly differently, allowing up to 50% of their employees to work remotely forever. The company stated that people who are in eligible roles at Facebook can apply for permanent remote working roles, but this subject to approval from managers.
Jack Dorsey made headlines when he announced Twitter employees “can now work from home forever,” and joined the ranks of Lambda School, Shopify and Square who moved to have all their employees work from home.
Remote work can generate mixed reactions from people. Some love the idea, while others can’t wait to get back to the office. With the current state of the global crises, remote work and hybrid work models are likely to remain part of the new normal and can fuel new business growth. This website provides an easy guide to help entrepreneurs start their businesses.
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