The Future of Remote Work
Hybrid or remote work environments are here to stay. When setting up a sustainable workflow and process, consider the following questions:
- What steps are you taking to ensure that everyone receives the training they need?
- Are you monitoring your staff’s overall well-being?
- How are you handling a workforce that includes staff who can work remotely as well as staff who must be on-site? Think industries like retail, restaurants, and health care.
- How is the intersection between people and technology being handled?
- Does your company need a boost in its diversity, equity, and inclusion, environmental, or community-based initiatives?
The success or failure of your company may rely on your answers and their efficacy.
Managing a hybrid workforce
Managing a hybrid workforce can create dilemmas without clear solutions. Some workers understand that the company depends on them to be on-site, while others want to be there. Still other employees may look at the executives who are working from home while they are working at the physical locations and feel a degree of envy brewing.
This is the time for company leaders to be creative and think outside the box. Companies like Apple are piloting a program called Retail Flex, which will allow employees to work at retail stores during some weeks and from a remote location during other weeks.
While remote, employees will still be handling online sales, fulfilling customer service tasks, and offering technical support. Participating employees will be reimbursed for internet expenses, like $100 toward office equipment. Their salary will not be affected.
Corporate employees were asked to come back to the office three days per week, although the target date for the in-office return has been moved several times. Thus, it has not happened yet. Although Apple’s reopening plan is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2022, the emergence of the omicron variant of COVID-19 may push back the start date to a later point in time during 2022.
At the start of the pandemic, there was a lot of talk about lowering the salaries of workers who moved from a high-cost area to a lower-cost location. Major companies, like Microsoft and Google, talked about decreases of up to 25% for employees who reduced their costs of living.
However, the tight labor market, coupled with the cost of replacing an existing employee, which can be up to 20% of the total salary according to some estimates, makes reduced salaries a far less appealing option. In a bid for talent and retention, as many as 60% to 75% of companies are moving away from the idea of location-based pay, especially smaller and midsize organizations.
Trust and engagement
The unique business environment we are collectively living through is permanently changing the way people view work. While a new normal remains elusive, company leaders have learned a handful of important details. The first, and arguably the most important, detail is that work that is purpose-driven is more engaging.
The second is that leaders need to trust themselves and interact with their employees in different ways. When people work for a company, they want to understand how their work contributes to the company’s goals, and they want to have a manager who is empathetic, transparent, and communicative. Keeping employees in the loop is a major part of engaging and retaining talent.
The news is full of articles about DEI initiatives, which are programs that help the environment and improve corporate social responsibility in general. If your company does not have any programs that speak to these ideas, now may be the right time to start one. Begin with a small program in an area that will resonate with your company’s employees and relate to the culture of the workplace.
Take charge when necessary
Giving employees more autonomy does not mean company leaders can forget that they are still in charge of making decisions that will affect the core of how the business operates. For example, leaders need to take charge when deciding when and how to return to the office.
This is not a decision that should be left to individual managers or specific internal departments. It is a decision that needs to be made by the very top. Look at CEOs of companies, like Apple, Facebook, and Google, that have announced a return date only to delay it due to the trajectory of the pandemic.
The new work environment is creating a modern-day outline regarding what is normal, but the definitions are still different from one company to the next. The important thing to remember is that you cannot lose sight of these critical issues while managing day-to-day business operations.
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