A golden question that once was on many minds was “Do we really need to come into the office to get work done effectively?” The pandemic and lockdown has led people to the answer that not many organizations need their employees to come together to run smoothly.
While organizations have managed to bring down costs related to logistics, real estate, immigration and acquisition of global talent there are open concerns that are getting ironed out. These may include brain storming, problem-solving – imitating the same work culture at a home-based environment – communicating knowledge and information, mentoring and conducting appraisals in a worthy manner.
Many organizations have opened up to the idea that the WFH/WFA culture (Hybrid Workspace) is a new beginning or the new normal while others discuss on how this could be the best way forward even if there may be a solution to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A 2015 study by Nicholas Bloom and co-authors found that when employees opted in to WFH policies, their productivity increased by 13%. When, nine months later, the same workers were given a choice between remaining at home and returning to the office, those who chose the former saw even further improvements: They were 22% more productive than they had been before the experiment. This suggests that people should probably determine for themselves the situation (home or office) that fits them best.
Source : HBR Nov 2020
For the employee
There are few intrinsic values that is associated with working from home. Many cite that there is a better quality of life and work life balance that is seen with this move, other on the other hand discuss on the benefits of working remotely and traveling to multiple locations geographically. With the elimination of an office commute the employee now cuts on expenses and also contributes a significant reduction of their carbon footprint.
Multiple Careers and Global Talent
Employees who have the desire to pursue a dual career have a better opportunity to balance time. The organization does not need to hassle itself over immigration challenges, it can acquire skilled employees and hire them to work from a distant geographic location.
For the Organization
Survey conducted has proven that for some organizations WFH has led to a higher level of employee productivity. The real estate requirements to house employees has dropped. The organization can now secure borderless workspaces and acquire global talent for the local organization.
Attractive Talent Pool
When companies implement Work from Anywhere (WFA) policies, employee hiring took a great turn of eliminating the hurdles based on proximity or relocation. Attractive talent pool can be hired and deployed from any part of the world without considering about the expenses.
Communication & Problem Solving
A distributed workforce takes a toll on the overall synergy that may be seen in an office. Synchronous communication is achieved through tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others. However, with the spread of the workforce across multiple geographic locations, decisions may be delayed with slow paced communication. WFH should be established on the idea that asynchronous communication is an accepted norm. The pursuit of a fully polished result may offset from the way organizations did operate.
A major challenge would be knowledge that is shared across remote locations. While privacy and privilege’s may be established on an organization’s information, simple answers that can be acquired over a tap on your colleagues shoulder is now kept over a distributed network and cloud servers. Organizations would need to maintain repositories on their organizational operation to create a transparent working environment and share work culture.
A major concern that is a threat to the organization is employees feeling socially isolated and disconnected from the organization itself. The management may miss the sign of an employee burnout. Video conferencing is a great method to socialize, however it may lack the competency to turn colleagues into good friends. Even with spiked levels of productivity, the lack of socialization may lead to dysfunctional teamwork over time.
Consolidate Technology and Tools
Employers need to invest on many technologies and tools that perform the same tasks. Consolidate them and then mandate the use of common tools for everyone. This will help ensure no messages or work gets lost in an old or insecure tool.
There is a rising concern for the use of device policy like including laptops, mobile phones, and VPNs – for employees? Are they provided with company tools? Or any partial reimbursements offered for personal devices?
While certain industries such as manufacturing cannot adopt the WFH model, large mature organizations that lead employees with effective management and leadership practices can transition themselves into this direction.
Few studies have also revealed that there has been a significant positive impact on the employee productivity among An effective management team would be able to address synergic strategies and lines of communication. They would need to create a virtual workspace that allows employees to interact and grow socially connected to the overall vision of the organization.
Source : Our Work from Anywhere Future, HBR Magazine Nov 2020
(Adapted Version of Seal Education Newsletter)