Companies shifted quickly and unexpectedly to remote work in early 2020, but leaders planning for a post-pandemic future have an opportunity to take a more intentional, strategic approach to remote work. Most likely this will involve revisiting a number of 1) company policies and 2) management practices. The authors examine key emerging trends in these areas and suggest a number of questions leaders should ask themselves as they plan for their organization’s optimal mix of remote work.
A proactive implementation of remote work may require updating company policies to fit the needs of a dispersed workforce. As companies reconsider existing policies, they’ll need to address the following questions. What’s the right mix of remote work for your organization?
Possible scenarios include a primarily remote, hybrid (with employees in the office part-time, typically two or three days per week), or a primarily in-office setting. To determine the optimal policy for your organization, leaders should factor in the following strategic considerations:
· Nature of the work. Independent tasks that do not rely heavily on collaboration or coordination with others are ideal for remote work. Highly collaborative work can also be successful remotely but requires more effort to manage. Obviously, some jobs simply cannot be performed remotely, but these may be fewer than you think. Companies continue to stretch the boundaries of remote work, with technologies like robotics and augmented reality being used to enable remote machine maintenance in manufacturing, and even some medical screenings and diagnosis functions.
· Experience level of the workforce. New employees or those recently promoted typically benefit from an initial period of time in the office, both to build relationships and to gain the implicit knowledge that can be more easily absorbed in the office environment. If the workforce is primarily remote, synchronous virtual orientation sessions or on-site retreats may be beneficial.
· Employee preferences. Individual choices should be taken into consideration given differences in personalities and preferences for remote work. Although some employees may indicate preferences now, those conversations should be revisited as work patterns and routines normalize.
· Real estate costs and carbon footprint. Less may be more to position for sustainability or scalable growth.
How do you promote safety working remotely?
How do you work? Completely remotely or a hybrid model?
Makarius, E. E., Larson, Z., and Vroman, S. R. (2021, March). What Is Your Organization’s Long-Term Remote Work Strategy? Harvard Business Review.
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