The nationwide move to a more remote-inclusive workplace stems from employees’ need for greater flexibility. The effort to balance work and life outside of work is not new. What is new: the weight employees are placing on flexibility. Today, an employer’s long-term success depends upon underestimating how highly flexibility ranks with their people.
Flexibility is Key
Before the pandemic, employees sought out more flexible work arrangements. Today, 1 in 2 employees indicate they will not return to jobs if remote work is not available. The employees who quickly packed up their desks for a two-week work from home (WFH) trial in March 2020 have evolved. The “sudden” onset of the pandemic and the necessity to only work from home re-shaped the way many people see themselves, their work, and the environment around them. Employers need to take stock and ask employees what works and what does not work to design a workplace that moves forward. The genie has been let out of the bottle. You can’t simply ignore recent events and return to business as before.
Taking an Employee-Centered Approach
Taking an employee-centered approach helps employers appear current with the times. It can help employers map the direction forward to successfully transition to a remote or hybrid work environment. This approach can also help the roughly two-thirds of State of Association Workplace Post-Pandemic Survey respondents grappling with uncertainty regarding their future workforce plans. The hesitation highlighted among those associations illustrates the challenges and weight these decisions carry for organizations. It also may come from the potential lack of examples they have to make such a monumental shift in operations for the first time. Therefore, to quell concerns, it’s important to have discussions with your Board, employees, and other stakeholders. This will better inform your planning and ease the transition to a long-term hybrid or remote workforce.
We are experiencing a unique moment in time. The pandemic rushed what many experts believe to be a twenty-year shift to a more remote work-centered model. Today, organizations and their employees face ambiguity brought on by the move to remote amid the lingering pandemic. Organizations should utilize this moment to bring their people together and lean on employees’ input to craft the future together. By doing so, they get employee buy-in from the beginning and receive insight into the challenges they will face along the way.
Unlike the two-week work-from-home “pilot” that launched in March 2020, the road to the future requires intentionality and iteration. A successful remote or hybrid workforce means forgetting the “status quo” and instead reimagining the workplace altogether. Successful remote and hybrid work requires intentionality across the 5 Essential Elements™ of an Optimized Distributed Workforce: communications, management, employee engagement and wellness, operations, and culture. Each element is essential to address individually. This way when placed together, your organization has a cohesive structure that encourages trust, accountability, and productivity organization wide.
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