The remote revolution. 

Balancing a hybrid workforce to alleviate pressures in an office-focussed world. There seems to be a trend emerging for companies to impose a return to the office, but as we enter 2023, the challenge for business leaders is to not return to the old familiar ways of working. Instead, it’s time to make the necessary changes to adopt and adapt to realise the benefits of remote working. Employees certainly are, and a Gallup survey in June 2022 revealed that 71% of workers saw an improved work-life balance when hybrid work was an option. The reduced time spent commuting can be put to use elsewhere with one cloud company claiming that 33% of the time spent by engineers is dedicated to training.

There is also a desire from governments for employers to be more flexible, and the UK Government announced at the end of last year that millions of Britons will soon be able to request flexible working from day one of employment rather than having to wait for 26 weeks. So even if employers don’t choose to embrace flexibility, they may soon be forced to do so anyway. 

With flexible working set to be an integral aspect of the modern workplace, it is important that companies have the appropriate structures and processes in place to benefit fully. 

CREATE A BALANCED HYBRID CULTURE WITH CENTRALISED COMMUNICATION HUBS 

It is critical to invest heavily in employee experience, whether in the office or at home – workers should feel as though their way of working is a balanced one. Having a centralised communication hub is an effective way to bring staff together when they are working separately. A detailed internal knowledge base or wiki, project workboards, Go/links, and specialized Slack channels help streamline internal communications – and adding some fun into the mix with peer recognition, Instagram and #LifeAtDoiT Slack channels further connect our global culture. 

Initiatives can be used to create more human connectivity in a completely remote world, but none of them happen by chance. For organizations to thrive with fully remote teams, they need to recognize the different management challenges they now face and allocate sufficient time and resources to ensure employees feel valued and operate effectively. 

REALISE REVENUE AND DIVERSE PEOPLE GROWTH WITH A ‘REMOTE-FIRST’ APPROACH TO HIRING 

The COVID-19 pandemic was the impetus for many businesses to embrace remote working for the first time. However, there are some businesses that have a long track record and were more prepared for a global lockdown through extensive experience in building a remote workforce that has already been effective and successful. It is essential to spend time creating and reinforcing a company culture that is relevant to employees working in a completely remote capacity. 

There are further benefits that can be seen in businesses that have adopted a completely remote approach to employment. Not being restricted geographically means having access to diverse talent pools and the ability to hire wherever the right person is, rather than being limited to the same metropolitan areas. In addition, employers can save on average, an estimated £9,060 for every remote employee due to reduced rent, lower absenteeism and turnover rates. 

Employers who mandate a return to the office are causing employees – particularly from underrepresented groups – to flee to more flexible companies. A Future Forum survey found that 21% of all white knowledge workers wanted a return to full-time in-office work, but only 3% of all Black knowledge workers wanted the same. Companies that are embracing a permanent, fully remote option are finding their companies are becoming more diverse and more inclusive. When everyone is remote, there is no location bias, no office cliques, no pressure to sacrifice family time; everyone starts on the same playing field and has the same access to resources, leadership and information needed to be successful and develop their careers. 

EMBRACE FLEXIBILITY OR FACE SIGNIFICANT BUSINESS FAILURES 

Ultimately, remote work has been proven an effective medium for both employers and employees to achieve a more balanced lifestyle. It is easy for companies to make assumptions about the effectiveness of its remote workforce, but evidence suggests that with a strong, positive company culture and clear goals to drive towards – a remote workforce is just as, if not more effective than the one which is forced into an office every day. 

Businesses that fail to adapt should prepare to lose key talent to competitors that are offering remote work, more autonomy and greater flexibility. And as many companies prepare to navigate business during a global recession, cutting costs by reducing employee time in a centralised office space, can be an effective way to not only boost morale, as data suggests this is what today’s staff want – but also significantly reduce business expenditure. By granting itself access to a global pool of talent, rather than restricting to metropolitan areas, the remote-first business is likely to pick up top talent and grow at a rate that far exceeds any business restricting itself by maintaining ‘outdated’ working practices.

Kristen Tronsky

Chief People Officer, DoiT International.

Rise of the machines.

Ahsan Zafeer • 26th November 2022

Ahsan Zafeer covers topics related to tech and digital marketing and tweets @AhsanZafeer. Here he explains people’s fears as to why machines are taking over their jobs.