There has been much speculation that we will find ourselves increasingly working remotely rather than being in a traditional physical workspace in the future.
Some jobs clearly cannot be done remotely, such as piloting a plane, nursing sick people, or building on a construction site, for example. Other jobs that are primarily office-based provide the greatest opportunity for adopting this new “virtual-first” workstyle, and those that are doing so successfully share some common characteristics:
1. Distributed work locations
Before the pandemic, their workplace locations were already distributed across head office, satellite offices and sometimes home working. Employees were already able to elect to work in the most efficient location for the task in hand. For example, someone needing to do some background research might request to work from home or perhaps from a local library to avail of the resources and quiet atmosphere required to concentrate fully. Another example could be an employee normally based in a satellite office but with several meetings at a head office choosing to spend the day in one location to avoid lost time due to travelling.
2. Use of virtual teams
Working in virtual teams is already common practise; for example, project teams made up of employees from different geographical locations. In these cases, the management teams are already trained and familiar with managing, coaching, developing, and evaluating their teams remotely. In addition to line management experience, HR teams also have mature processes and policies to support performance management, workforce diversity, and localized legal requirements.
3. Technology in place to facilitate collaboration
The use of technology to support efficient working practices, manage data and facilitate collaboration is already in place. In many cases, systems are cloud-based with access security levels to support different modes of working.
4. Trust-based company culture
The company culture and values support and reward a trust-based working environment with open and two-way communication channels. There is less micro-management and greater autonomy for employees to make decisions and manage their work and performance.
If these critical elements are already in place, organisations find it easier to build a “virtual-first” organisation. However, remote working may still not be a desirable or straightforward option for all employees or organisations.
In addition to the type of role and organisational capability, many other factors come into play when deciding if remote working is feasible. A key issue is individual employee personality. Some people struggle psychologically to adapt to online work and socialising and need to work face-to-face in an office environment. For others, the home environment may not be conducive to work due to family circumstances or access to the required technology.
Rather than see a default move to remote working, it is more likely that longer-term we will see organisations pivot to a hybrid-workforce model that provides flexibility for employees to selectively choose workplace options as part of their overall benefits package.
Why not contact us at HRBluSky today to learn how we can help you identify what you can do to enable your organisation to pivot to a hybrid working environment.