Remote work is no longer a trend, it is now a necessity that most organisations must live with. If a year ago "remote work" meant "working from home", today it means "flexible work" , in terms of location and hours. This paradigm shift requires collaborators to create different working habits and organisations to be able to manage hundreds of teams scattered around the world.
However, the truth is that one year after the widespread introduction of remote work, every day looks the same. The consequences of long-term remote work cannot be ignored: monotony, reduced ability to communicate and collaborate, loss of creativity, social isolation, difficulty in separating work and personal life, and even burnouts. In fact, 36% of a sample of 330 US organisations say they are now willing to hire workers who perform their duties 100% remotely. Furthermore, only 12% of workers in the Services sector want to return to the office full-time. But are organisations and workforce prepared for this change?
The truth is that, even before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Business Services were already adopting some measures that allowed remote work. The fact that this sector typically does not perform customer service and bases its tasks on digital tools, naturally allowed some steps to be taken towards work flexibility; however, the journey is still a long one, even for this sector. Although flexible work has been gaining increasing popularity in recent years, there are few companies that have fully established programmes in this direction.
There are some measures that help turn remote work into truly flexible work with benefits for both the company and the employee:
- Redesign the offices to allow for hybrid working models. Offices will evolve into places that primarily serve to renew ties between collaborators and foster organisational culture. To do this, it is essential to redesign them, so that these can enhance personal contact, with the use of technology.
- Invest in planning using early scheduling of all activities that can be carried out remotely or in person. Flexible working hours may become chaotic if there is no minimum basic stability. To ensure this, it is necessary to define synchronous working periods within the team so that teamwork can be carried out.
- Coach leaders by creating rigorous, frequent and standardised team management routines for work planning, evaluation of performance indicators and management of improvement projects.
- Select digital tools that are suited to the specific needs of the organisation.
For the company, flexible work allows it to free up approximately 50% of building space and adapt capacity to the demand curve.
COVID-19 has forced individuals and businesses to rethink the way they approach flexibility and remote working. By understanding the best methods for teams to work from home, leaders will be able to turn this unexpected crisis into an opportunity to develop new and better ways of working.