With the continuous advances in technology, it’s easier than ever for businesses to get work done remotely. Since so many organizations have spent time working in a remote environment due to Covid-19, we’ve quickly learned what works for this unique situation and which areas need improvement. Many organizations have already adopted a permanent remote work model moving into the future even beyond the new year.
While the unknown continues affecting businesses and people in different ways, there have been many conversations around keeping this remote work environment a more permanent (or optional for some) change. There’s much to learn from all of this pivoting as we continue to figure out what works best for us. Here are a few reasons why remote work is here to stay along with tips on how leaders can build on new opportunities moving forward.
Larger Talent Pool
In the past, working remotely was considered “normal” for entrepreneurs or independent contractors in the gig economy only, but organizations wanted employees, and consultants, to be onsite and working in the office. This greatly narrowed the talent pool. Now, organizations can expand their horizons and look outside of their immediate area for standout expert talent. Since employees have been working remotely, organizations have seen a significant increase in productivity and communication, making employers more open toward hiring or partnering with people that are located throughout the US and all over the world. While technology continues advancing at a rapid pace, we’re also adopting more creative ways to utilize this technology, giving people and businesses access to more opportunity in so many different areas. This has opened up a much larger, more diverse talent pool to choose from, access and utilize. With the click of a button, organizations are able to tap into critical resources and leverage the gig economy, creating a talent advantage. Organizations are able to partner effectively with highly specialized consultants and fill critical roles with elastic talent without going over budget. It’s a win-win.
Leadership Tip: Develop a hybrid talent strategy, one in which you leverage consultants from the gig economy as well as your own employees. This will allow your team to be made up of the best people who can help the organization achieve success.
While remote work may not have been a popular idea for organizations prior to the pandemic, through trial and error it’s safe to say we’ve learned a lot. Many people found they’re actually working best from the comfort of their home, some feel they have limited distractions that previously arose in the office and others hope to continue their job permanently remote. In any case, the flexibility that comes with working from home is no secret. We’ve seen this a lot with parents having to be home with children while they are away from the classroom. This isn’t to say remote work is the only solution to create flexibility in a position, however it could mean higher productivity and lower employee turnover rates. Recent statistics show that 40% of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule and those organizations allowing remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover than those who don’t. Employees clearly want and enjoy the flexibility.
Leadership Tip: Consider how your organization can create a hybrid plan that allows employees to continue working remotely a few days a week and one that allows some to work in the office. When employees have the choice to be flexible in the way they work, they have control over working in a way that best suits them. As an added bonus, this choice also helps feelings of isolationism and other mental health concerns.
Whether you’re working for a large corporation or a small startup, operational costs will always exist. Since the transition out of the office we have seen significant cost savings in multiple areas. First, many organizations were able to downsize or completely eliminate office spaces, removing rent or the cost to purchase office space from their expenses. This was especially helpful for small businesses looking to save or put money toward other important areas that helped grow or benefit their company. The second major area where we saw cost savings was around talent. Organizations were better able to tap into the gig economy and leverage outsourced talent versus hiring full-time employees. This means organizations are hiring independent consultants that are experts in their field for projects and interim needs, increasing cost savings associated with onboarding, training and hiring a full-time employee. It’s a win for both sides.
Leadership Tip: Think about your organization’s projects and interim needs and ask yourself whether a full-time employee is required or is a highly skilled consultant the better option. Leveraging outside talent on an “as needed” basis may be best in both the short and long-term.
It’s safe to say organizations experienced massive disruptions and pivots in 2020. Perhaps the biggest shift was in how we work and where we work from. The shift toward remote work took many organizations by surprise. For most, it was an unfamiliar concept followed by new challenges, but for others, it was an eye-opening adjustment that has changed the way businesses operate on a daily basis. While we don’t know what challenges face us in 2021, we do know remote work isn’t a trend. It’s here to stay and will be a key differentiator for organizations who want to build the best teams with the best talent from around the world. The more organizations adapt to a remote workforce and introduce new technologies to help employees stay connected, the more opportunities are created for growth, development and success moving forward.