There’s no doubt about it, remote work, work from home, distributed work, mobile work, smart working, hybrid-remote — which means a mix of onsite and remote work — and work anywhere have gained popularity over the past two years. While we have had to live amid a pandemic, a new way of working has emerged, and it seems to be hybrid.
Benefits of being remote
Employees demanding flexibility in where and how they work has been building for decades. Indeed, the idea of remote work, with occasional commutes to the workplace, is gaining wider acceptance from both employers and employees, especially due to the attractive benefits it may bring to both parties, including increased productivity, reduced costs, lower stress and more. And with higher pressure on costs, especially in the short term, employers too may find themselves increasingly attracted to the lure of allowing remote work. Moreover, employers may realize that sourcing the best (and/or cheaper) talent will no longer be bound by geographical borders.
However, there are notable challenges when it comes to hybrid working, such as the difficulty in participating in conversations on hybrid video calls, not being able to tell who’s speaking and feeling disengaged, missing visual cues like facial expressions and not being able to see the whiteboard. One of the biggest setbacks is trust — many managers simply don’t trust their people to work untethered. However, management experts have been praising the notion of managing by results for decades. Micromanagement doesn’t work and neither does “managing by walking around” in this global, mobile world. If employees are forced to work from home for an extended period of time, managers will have to learn that it’s results that matter. They will be able to see for themselves just how much happier and engaged their employees are without the stress of commuting, being away from loved ones and workplace interruptions.
How to succeed
In order to ensure a successful remote interaction with employees and clients, Dropbox, Zoom, Todoist, Trello and Slack can be effective. Slack allows you to have real-time conversations with anyone in your organization, create channels for different purposes, create threads within messages to keep your chats organized and integrates with a number of popular technological solutions. The app also supports file sharing; you can directly send files to your team as an alternative to email. These tools seem essential for remote work.
For hybrid work to be successful, organizations need to revamp their work practices, work policies and even their workplaces. Employers have a unique opportunity to create a totally new world of work, one that is both physically and mentally rewarding.
Increased remote working does not mean a lesser need for meetings and social interactions; on the contrary, interactions with employees and clients have to be structured meetings on an international, local and regional scale.
What to expect in the future
While many employers have yet to invest in technology to address the unique challenges of hybrid/remote work, the pandemic experience has already opened employees’ minds to the next frontier of collaboration, such as holograms, virtual reality and concepts like the four-day work week. The resulting change in how and where people work will have far-reaching implications for the built environment, sustainability, labor markets, transportation infrastructure, regional planning, tax and labor laws, operational costs and more. It’s never again going to be work as we knew it.