What is the future of Remote Working?
As remote working becomes the norm, what does that mean for the future of work and out office spaces?
Whatever the future looks like post-pandemic, for organisations, the meaning ‘business as usual has changed. The measures taken to adapt the workplace and general work practices during COVID-19 aren’t just a stopgap to get us through the crisis. What’s happening today is setting the foundation for the future of work - something that has been a hot topic in my regular meetings with customers.
Talking with these businesses of all sizes from a range of industries, the consensus is that more work can be done remotely, especially now the initial connectivity investments have been made. Yet, while remote working has been a lifeline for many businesses over the past year, for some industries such as healthcare, it simply hasn’t been possible.
Looking ahead, we need to consider the needs of employees and their desire to continue working from home or returning to the office. As businesses, we need to adapt and help our employees do the same, creating more flexible, hybrid models that work for everyone.
Moving to a hybrid model
The percentage of workers permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021, according to a survey from Enterprise Technology Research (ETR). It’s important to understand that remote working is more than providing employees with mobile devices and access to the corporate network. To sustain this long-term, companies need to figure out which employees should come into the office and how often.
This should be an open conversation between employer and employees, with both being flexible in their policies and expectations.
What works now might not work in another two years, or two months even. Times change, markets evolve, and people’s circumstances differ. The conversation has to be honest and ongoing if businesses are going to make this work for everyone.
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The changing workplace
Research amongst our colleagues has shown that more than 80% have been satisfied or very satisfied with working from home, with people rating activities such as ‘learning’ and ‘collaborating with others using digital tools’ as more effective from home.
In fact, recent research by McKinsey found that 67% of organisations with remote working in place saw a rise in productivity, customer satisfaction, employee engagement and diversity and inclusion. We also know that people miss seeing each other in-person, and we recognise that collaboration, co-creation and brainstorming can often work best when everyone is in the same space together.
Therefore, our approach to our office spaces will change to reflect this, in terms of layout, size and location. For example, they will have distinct spaces that support different types of working such as creative and collaborative, together with some space for individual working.
Opening the talent pool
The future of work is about creating workplaces that drive positive outcomes and ensures accessibility for people of all abilities and that encourage a culture of inclusion for everyone, whether they are physically present in the space or working remotely.
Without the need for people to be in the office every day, we are widening the talent pool, helping drive diversity and inclusion and meeting the needs of job seekers who are looking for opportunities with greater flexibility.
As people’s needs and wants change, businesses need to rethink the ways they attract, develop and extract value from different labour pools. Adapting the recruiting process to source the best people for the job but also moving to more output-based models, rather than focusing on where and when employees are doing work. Those that can show they offer flexibility, have strong core values and cater for a diverse workforce, will be better placed to attract and retain outstanding candidates.
Ultimately, technology is allowing people to choose different jobs and to fit their personal lives around their professional ones.
This is an opportunity. By rebuilding operations and rethinking the organisation and structure of our businesses, we can use the information we’ve gained in the last year to build back stronger and better. Creating a future where every individual can deliver their full potential and the best service to our customers.