The global pandemic triggered by the rapid spread of the Coronavirus lead to countries going into lockdown mode. Hence the shift to remote working was rapid and sweeping. Although the COVID-19 situation has presented businesses a chance to experiment with working from home(WFH), today it might be a challenge to go back to a situation where everything goes back to how things were in the pre-COVID days. This could be partly due to the changed mindsets of employees as well as plans for the resiliency of the business which were both tested during the lockdown period.

Research and advisory company Gartner in a study found that 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely at least for some of the time while 47% plan to allow employees to do so permanently. Therefore the question now facing many organizations is not how to manage a remote workforce but how to manage a more complex hybrid one. Whether companies were well prepared or not to deploy WFH, the experiment is well underway and employees and business leaders are realizing the benefits of WFH. A large number of blue-chip companies such as Twitter and Facebook have said that they are freeing all or any of their employees forever to WFH.

One of the most important factors to bear in mind is that the well being of remote workers is central to sustaining productivity gains. 

However, you look at it remote work is here to stay and may be attributed to the following reasons:

Global Talent Pool

Offering remote work puts employers at an advantage of securing the global best without the hindrance of geographical barriers. In addition to this, people who were earlier not able to apply due to disabilities or other caregiving opportunities can now do so. Having this kind of global employee pool along with equal opportunities for everyone will boost the employer brand through the culture and diversity of the organization.

Money and Savings

Remote work saves money for the company. There are several aspects to this truth. The most prominent of those being in remote work there is less overhead cost related to the traditional office setting. Square, Twitter, and Facebook have told their employees that they can WFH permanently. Real estate is a major expense for any organization. Huge office spaces might soon become a thing of the past since not all workers may come in at the same time if at all.

Another important aspect of savings is the fact that organizations can open their doors to more freelancers. This gives companies the advantage of taking on people only when needed instead of having them as full-time employees. Also, much savings can happen in the form of acquisition, hiring and onboarding, and so on. This comes with the distinct advantage of attracting top talent from across the globe.

Productivity

Over the years it has become increasingly evident that the traditional office setup is not the best for everyone. A recent study by Harvard Business School suggests that companies that allow their workers to decide when and where to do their work increase employee productivity, reduce turnover, and lower organizational costs. Going forward the most formidable organizations will be those that play to their employee’s strength. Therefore while putting together the workforce of the organization, it will have a sizable number of employees who perform best remotely.

The Adjacent Possible

The adjacent possible is a term coined by American author Steve Johnson. It is a kind of shadow future hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself. There are a few ways in which we are at the adjacent possible with remote work

  • Hardware
    Most of today’s workforce has physical tools such as laptop, webcam, and so on to make remote work sustainable.
  • Software
    The software we use today allows for work to happen from anywhere.
  • Cyber Security 
    Working remotely poses security challenges. Innovative technology ensures that those challenges do not deter teams from rendering their best towards their work. Two-factor verification, VPN lines, remote login tools, and so on help to overcome any cybersecurity challenges that might crop up during work.

Employee Retention and Satisfaction

Organizations can reduce the cost of hiring employees by bringing down the attrition rate. Employees who work remotely tend to feel a higher level of empowerment since they need to be more focused and independent.

Today the world has changed, and a new normal is slowly emerging. Habits and behaviors that would have materialized in the coming decade have calcified in just a few months. To ensure that flexible working is a viable option for everyone in the organization, it should be promoted through the recruitment process for all levels of staff with the understanding that one size cannot fit all. However, this grand experiment of remote work is forcing companies to rethink their operations, drop their outdated mindsets, and discover more efficient ways of working.