Remote working is fast becoming a necessary part of our work lives. In these Covid times, it has become a reality for most businesses worldwide. But is it a trend that’s here to stay? As companies are giving up expensive real-estate in major cities or down-sizing office size to cut costs, we will experience a huge adoption of remote work in the corporate world. This is a trend that has been on the rise of years, with companies looking for ways to be more competitive and attract and retain people to their teams. Like it or not, Millennials, who will make up 60% of the workforce by 2025, have a marked preference for flex work (hours and location) and it is a point of filter for the jobs they take or reject. So No, this is not a pandemic fad. I think this will fundamentally change how we work. There’s no putting the genie back in this bottle.
With advances in Technology – ubiquitous internet, video conferencing, collaborative tools, working flexibly has never been easier. With the right processes in place, there is very little lost in working remotely. As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, it is entirely possible to work from home successfully. And the advantages are measurable – flexible location and hours allow teams to handle family demands while maintaining productivity.
One factor in the lack of women in leadership is that women may hold themselves back or be perceived as incapable of choosing career over family. That is not a choice asked of men, but it is one that many moms feel they have to make.
Allow your team, mother or fathers, daughters and sons, that are caring for family members, the flexibility of starting earlier or later, taking meetings from home, and manage their workload to accommodate family obligations. Professional women can plan their work days around picking up the kids from school or meal prep and make up time usually spent in traffic by being productive from home. By removing this barrier, company leaders will enable women to step up and take on the more demanding roles that lead them to the executive table.
“I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing.” — Gloria Steinem
By offering flex hours, you empower your team work at their most productive times. Not everyone is cut out for 8 to 5. The night owls amongst us do better on a 10 to 7 schedule. When you allow for flexible hours, you define core hours where everyone needs to work. These are the hours that you can schedule meetings and set up time to follow-up with your team. Core hours could be 10-12 and 14-16 for example. This allows your team to plan their days to meet both work and personal commitments.
Similarly, a shift in management is needed. Trusting your team to meet their deliverables rather than demand that they work a set amount of hours a day will benefit you in that they will work longer days around peaks and deadlines. Clocking in and out may be appropriate for the manufacturing sector, but the demands of Tech work means that we need to approach managing projects and teams differently, more flexibly. Instead of focusing on if your teams are working set hours, you should focus on if they meet the expected objectives and deadlines.
Remote work is here to stay. And instead of seeing it as a dire consequence of the pandemic, companies should seize the opportunity to create productive, collaborative, flexible and successful virtual workplaces that benefit both the company and its employees. If you are struggling to get started, check out this toolkit on how to be successful remotely. If you are successful but still believe that this is a short-term solution, consider that those companies who adopt flexible work as part of their ongoing strategy are those who will be prepared for the next environmental disaster, will be well placed to hire and retain the growing segment of the workforce, and will be the leaders in offering equal opportunity to working moms (or dads) who will no longer have to choose between family and career. Focus on the advantages of remote work and see how you can leverage technology and processes to offer flexibility and adapt to this ever-changing environment.
“Freedom and happiness are found in the flexibility and ease with which we move through change.” — Buddha