Three decades ago, Peter Drucker stated that “commuting to office work is obsolete”. His prediction was not far from the reality of our working situations in 2020. The pandemic forced organizations to institute mandatory work from home policies. Nevertheless, a few organizations realized the advantages of remote working and made a switch to some degree, at least before the pandemic. This perhaps accounts for 14% of employees in the U.S. who worked from home 5 days a week before the health crisis.
However, remote working was relatively new to the majority – employees and management. To make the best of an unavoidable situation, management began to survey employees how working remotely could be optimized. Below are some of the findings:
How Companies Drive Remote Working
Brent Hyder, President & Chief People Officer, Salesforce stated, “ An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead, and the employee experience is about more than ping pong tables and snacks.”
The company came up with three options for its staff.
- A Flex plan under which employees could choose to work 1-3 days per week from the office. On these days, employees could involve in team collaboration, meet with customers and make presentations.
- A Fully Remote plan under which, as the name implies, employees were required to function remotely. This is suitable for employees who do not require an office.
- Office-Based. This is at the other extreme of fully remote. This would apply to a small group whose roles require them to function in an office 4-5 days a week.
Spotify has added a different dimension to remote working through their “My Work Mode” scheme. In addition to location, the flexible time option allows employees to choose if they will work full time from home or full time from the office or a combination of the two, which they can work out with their managers.
Spotify also allows employees choice of location subject, however, to time zone compatibility and local laws. If an employee prefers to work in an office environment, Spotify will offer co-working space membership where the company does not have an office nearby.
Spotify offers these options in keeping with its flexible work culture.
Eric Artz, President, and CEO of Rei, the outdoor retailer, declared recently that his company would have a distributed headquarters across the greater Seattle area instead of being housed in one location. This way, he says that his headquarters employees will have a more engrained, supported, and normalized model head office.
Facebook, which plans to have half its workforce work remotely, intends to hire a Director to monitor the employee experience of those not working in an office setting.
Hubspot has its @office, @home, and @flex remote-office plan open even to new employees. This way, the company claims that it will attract more talent than it was earlier able to.
Common Challenges in Remote Working
Work location is just one of the employee concerns. There is more:
Employee Wellness is Equally Important in Remote Working
Work location and flex plans were just one of the concerns of employers. Employee surveys also highlighted employee wellness as another significant concern. Brent Hyder of Salesforce says that his company has implemented extended parental leave and child care benefits to deal with some employee issues.
Team Collaboration is More Important Than Ever
Brynn Harrington, Vice President of People Growth at Facebook, says that even employees working remotely will work as connected teams and have a unified experience. This, according to him, will help employees be successful whatever their work location.
Employees Need to Feel Connected
Another concern that the employee surveys uncovered was inborn longing to stay connected with colleagues and friends. Eighty percent of those surveyed said they craved connection and friendship. Because of this, Salesforce says that its workspaces will include more breakout spaces and community hubs that strengthen the human connection.
Remote work is Here to Stay
The pandemic is a war against humanity, and efforts are on war footing to defeat the scourge. But back to normalcy is still a distance away. That being so remote working is here for the foreseeable future. And the nuances of doing it the right way are still emerging. The employee issues cited above are just a few of the many that will be discussed subsequently.