The Future is Flexible
After 2+years of an accelerated, sometimes bumpy transition out of the on-site office, what is the future of remote work as offices re-open and are safe for employees? It’s all about flexibility.
Hybrid virtual-working models
In numerous surveys, employees say they want to work in the office sometimes and work remotely or at home sometimes. And that ratio between sometimes on-site and sometimes remote varies widely — across genders, family arrangements, locations, introversion and extroversion personalities, job functions and more. One size does not fit all.
If a company can find the right way to deliver the optimal ratio of flexibility to employees, a working model that is hybrid of virtual and on-site has the potential to respond to the post-pandemic expectations and preferences of employees.
Here are several features of the future of remote work.
Once people again can co-locate safely, decisions about the use of space (for what purpose or occasions) and digital tools will be made. This requires a change in mindset and behaviour toward trusting and empowering employees while leveraging options to keep connected in various scenarios. The hybrid model will improve or suspend workflows and processes that no longer work, leveraging technology to better coordinate across teams and projects without co-location.
Setting Policies and Expectations
Policies will be set that lead to higher levels of employee well-being, social cohesion and productivity. There will be clear policies for working hours and expectations for collaboration, from on-site employees dialling into remote meetings, guidelines for documentation, reimbursement for home office set-ups and participation in small team events.
Learning from Mistakes
The hybrid virtual working model will purposefully create a culture in which employees continue to feel comfortable making mistakes, speaking up, and generating innovative ideas. Employees also will feel supported when they request flexible operating approaches to accommodate personal needs.
Recognizing Time Zones
The experience of a hybrid virtual team in the same time zone varies significantly from a team with members in multiple time zones. In the coming years, teams ideally will be built with at least four hours of overlap during the traditional workday to ensure time for collaboration.
Keeping Teams Together
The productivity of the established team arises from explicit norms, trust-based relationships and familiarity with workflows and routines. Future remote work will prioritize keeping together teams working together for longer periods versus forming newer groups with steep learning curves.
Telling people they are allowed to work from home on Fridays and can’t send emails after five o’clock simply provides new rules. Employees want control over their schedules and location. Instead, future remote work will establish norms and practices that encourage true flexibility so that all employees, including those who cannot work remotely, can adapt to ways that work for their particular situations.
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