The Work from Home movement is not going to stop. It is a fact of life for a lot of workers. There is still a lot to learn and a lot more to be done to ensure employees are working in the conditions they prefer. A lot of what needs to be determined is based on industries in which these employees work.
The percentage of workforce that wanted to work remotely came from the Boston consulting group. The discussion about where the company wants you to work is wrong.
In the past, companies stayed away from remote work because it was difficult to manage. Executive teams are asked if they are working. Is it possible to keep a remote employee engaged as an employer? How do we keep remote staff accountable? How can we make sure remote employees feel part of the team? All come to think of.
It was missing the big picture.
This misses the bigger picture. Why do companies have people in the first place? To do other things. What exactly is it? Stuff that creates revenue or value for the company is what the short answer is.
Why do we buy computers, dual monitors, expensive software, server, and give untold amounts of money to Microsoft, among other things? Because employers want employees to be productive and generate more value than they technically cost so that there can be a profit for all the hard work that goes into making a business work.
If it were just about saving money, we would give every employee a second set of pencils and tablets for less than the cost of setting them up with computers, software, and other equipment they need to do their jobs.
What should drive an employee to work? The person signing the paycheck or the person doing the work?
The real answer to these questions might be neither.
The person who should drive where an employee works is the person who pays for the work. That is what we all show up for, right? To make something, do something, sell something to solve someone else’s problem, or to make someone else’s lives better is what we do day-in and day-out.
Everyone can work without being chained to their desks. What possibilities do that open? No one said that remote work has to be done from home. It’s possible that work from wherever is the best way to take care of your customers and keep the business viable.
It could mean work from wherever your key suppliers are to make sure components arrive at factories on time. It could mean work from a temporary job site, keeping a close watch on critical development efforts. It could mean putting bank employees in a park, meeting new people, opening new accounts and demonstrating support for the community.
New ways vs old ways.
It’s easier to go back to our old habits. We have a long history of doing things that way. It is hard to break old, tried-and-true habits and create new tools and processes to manage people that are not within the line of site of their boss. What makes sense? It was easier to hitch horses to wagons to get work done than it was to learn how to drive a truck. That didn’t diminish the value of the technology.
Is the overhead that comes with renting an office really necessary for most businesses? Do we all need fancy lobbies, artwork on the walls, marble floors or exposed ceilings? Some of the people do. redirecting the investment would be better for everyone.
Where could employees who are not in roles that require them to be in the office work to maximize their value to the company, be happier, and be more productive? The ability to place an employee anywhere in the world where there is a good internet connection can be very powerful for both the company and the employee.
According to the chart, there is a willingness from employees to consider an alternative working arrangement as the technology is there. Taking the time to view the business through this new lens and rethink how the business might function with the capability to put employees almost anywhere to better serve the needs of the business or the customer is the only thing missing.
Adapt, improve and learn.
What may that look like? One U.S. based architecture firm hired the best minds they could find, not just those who live in the cities where they have offices. They are not a huge firm but are well known in their industry for the work they produce and it is all built on the back of hiring the best talent they can find, no matter where in the world that talent might call home.
There is a technical challenge around how to connect all this talent in a meaningful way to continue to advance the mission of the firm. There is no bleeding-edge technology in play here. A unique application of technologies allows this firm to connect the best and brightest they can find to deliver their award-winning projects, then reconfigure their groups virtually for the next set of projects, and going again, with staff spread out around the world instead of around the office.
The ability is there to meet the employee on their terms, in their context, and build an environment around them that will allow them to engage and connect with their peers in meaningful ways. It takes a lot of effort to think about what might be possible and look at how business gets done.
Community outreach organizations have taken their offices to the streets of large urban communities to better serve homeless people in their environment.
The ability to put a provider on-site via video conferencing/telemedicine technology at an ambulance call to assist and advise paramedics in the direct care of stroke patients, working together to treat the patient and minimize the risk of permanent damage to the patient, is provided by ambulance services and hospital systems
The ability is there to meet the needs of clients in new and unique ways, looking beyond if it is best to have employees work from home or in the office. It makes sense for the organization to allow employees to work from wherever they choose. The willingness to change how we measure and engage with employees must be there in the new work scenarios to take advantage of this capability.
Many organizations have already embraced the lessons of COVID, replacing short-term, stop-gap work from home solutions with more permanent changes to how they do business, and are being rewarded for it It is great to see companies learn, adapt, and make themselves better in the future, because it is exciting.