Remote Work, here to stay or part of a Hybrid Model?

Remember back in 2013, when an employee (Bob) outsourced his job and was fired?

Before being fired, Bob was considered a ‘model employee’, his work was above par, his code was clean, well-written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, Bob’s performance review noted him as the best developer in the building.

In many ways, Bob was a 'man before his time'. He chose to spend one-fifth of his salary to free up his life, reduce his stress, and ensure he hit his targets. Companies in 2013 had different criteria, they liked to ‘keep an eye’ on who was doing the work, for both productivity and security reasons.

With the pandemic hitting in 2020, and most people working from home, ‘keeping an eye’ on people seems less important, and keeping employees healthy, well-balanced with manageable stress is much more so. Security will remain a concern, but solutions have been found for that.

The Future of Remote Work is Hybrid

The future is NOW, and smart companies have already embraced the concept of a distributed workforce. Microsoft, for example, has announced that work from home is a permanent solution for most of its employees. But is the office dead?

Ninety percent of employees surveyed; said they never want to return to the office full-time again. At the same time, people are missing the community aspect of work and some are experiencing increasing stress from juggling home and work duties.

The solution is to rethink the office. Here are seven things to ponder:

  1. The office HQ is dead, but offices will persist. They will be used less frequently, then hardly at all. More co-working spaces will be created that let workers, who prefer that mode of work, operate from there.
  2. Remote Retreats, purpose-built destinations that allow for entire companies to fly into a campus for a synchronous week, will become commonplace. These retreats could be staffed with facilitators and educators who train employees on how to maximize effectiveness and communication.
  3. Companies will hire the best talent, not based on geography, gender, age, or any other bias. This will lead to the most diverse and inclusive teams and create a competitive advantage for those companies who move fast on this mindset.
  4. Less Pointless Meetings. Wasting hours traveling to a meeting is over. Instead, conferences and quarterly networking events will become much more intentional for cultivating in-person relationships and collective brainstorming.
  5. Companies will need to embrace tools for asynchronous work. This might include robotic processes to pass work from one employee to another. This will also mean workers can be tasked to do what they are good at, and menial or repetitive tasks can be outsourced or automated.
  6. Communication must evolve. With less or no face-to-face time, leaders and employees must become more efficient in communicating concrete expectations of performance, as well as abstract ideas like values and culture.
  7. Rather than worry whether employees are working whilst at home, companies will need to be concerned that they are not overworking. With extra time gained from the lack of commute, employees should be encouraged to take time out for healthy and social activities. The stigma of not being at your desk needs to be replaced by the sense of satisfaction of delivering quality output in an enjoyable and sustainable way.

Self-leadership and Remote Working

I wonder what happened to Bob?

Bob showed a high degree of self-leadership in organizing his work to meet both his work commitments and his lifestyle requirements.

Bob broke the rules and suffered the consequences, but I think we need a dose of Bob’s thinking to build a new hybrid between remote and office working.

Private Equity and Venture Capital firms will certainly be looking favorably at start-ups that can cut costs and increase efficiency by starting with a hybrid distributed workforce.

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