In the wake of Covid-19, executives and managers who were once opposed or resistant to the idea of remote work have been pleasantly surprised to discover the various benefits that it can have on a workforce, from increased employee productivity and engagement to better retention rates.
But despite the increase in familiarity with remote work across industries and sectors, there remain many uncertainties around what work arrangements will look like once the threat of the virus subsides and employees begin to return to the office. This is especially true for businesses that previously did not embrace remote work prior to the pandemic.
Cloud-based communications and collaboration provider Fuze and Pulse Q&A, a social research platform, recently surveyed 100 tech leaders to determine how attitudes toward remote work have shifted in recent months and how businesses expect to accommodate remote work once employees begin returning to the office.
Based on the key findings from the survey, decision-makers should keep the following takeaways in mind as they embrace flexible work moving forward.
Business leaders are more comfortable with remote work, but the stigma hasn't disappeared.
Looking to the post-pandemic future, 84 percent of tech leaders from companies of all sizes would like to see an increase in flexible working policies. On top of that, 70 percent of companies with 1,000 to 5,000 employees believe working from home will be more accepted by both middle and upper management post-crisis, but 61 percent of companies with more than 10,000 employees disagree.
While many tech leaders are increasingly comfortable working remotely, there is still a stigma attached to remote work among larger companies with more than 10,000 employees.
To implement an effective remote work policy in the long-term, beyond Covid-19, it would help business leaders to change their views by truly fostering a culture of trust and inclusivity toward employees working remotely. This means establishing a culture that values adaptability, work-life balance, and a focus on performance and productivity versus office attendance as the real measure of employee value.
Expect a hybrid workforce where a portion of workers work remotely and in-person.
Before the pandemic, 52 percent of tech executives expected their teams to be in the office five days a week. Post-crisis, 55 percent expect employees will be in the office at maximum twice per week.
After Covid, many businesses may adopt a hybrid workforce, with some employees working in the office and others working remotely full-time.
Organizations may even see employees working both in the office and remotely during the course of regular workweek. Facebook, for example, announced in May that it would give employees the option to work remotely indefinitely, while some workers may ultimately choose to remain in the office.
Post-pandemic, enabling employees to work when and where they are most productive may lead to high performance.
As hybrid work arrangements become more prevalent, to ensure that all employees feel connected and engaged regardless of when and where they are working remotely, business leaders and managers should continue to maintain frequent touch bases with distributed workers, hold weekly company-wide virtual meetings, and, most important, celebrate and recognize remote workers just as often as in-office workers.
Culture and technology go hand-in-hand to enable remote work success.
Since the global crisis, 96 percent of tech executives say they're evaluating remote working tools to keep distributed workers engaged and productive. Looking beyond Covid, if they haven't done so already, businesses should invest in technology to keep workers connected with each other wherever they might be located.
While a bright light has been shone on remote work in recent months, as businesses prepare for the "new normal" of work-life post-Covid, decision-makers must be ready to make cultural changes and technological investments to optimize the shift toward flexible work for the long term.