As lockdowns ease in many areas, most employers are still unsure about what the future of work will look like for their organizations.
A Gallup poll in April indicated that 57% of employers will be offering flex time or remote work options for employees as restrictions are lifted. Many companies plan to leave at least some of their workforce remote.
So, what can (and should) you do now to prepare for the weeks, months, and years ahead? Here’s what a few experts have to say:
Make technology and infrastructure upgrades to prepare for a hybrid workforce
According to Stephanie Balaouras, VP, Group Director Serving Security & Risk Professionals at Forrester, this is the time to accelerate innovation and digital experiences to adapt to permanent shifts in customer expectations and behavior.
The primary reason for doubling down on technology is, of course, to ensure reliable, secure, scalable remote work. Think carefully about automating manual processes, transitioning to virtual events, and finding ways to be more flexible and resilient.
Prioritize employee experience and trust
Balaouras also notes that it is crucial that employers account for individual protections to avoid regulatory action, charges of discrimination, and civil lawsuits. By prioritizing employee experience and trust above all else, your organization will be better positioned to avoid legal and regulatory minefields.
Accelerate innovation and build new digital experiences
The future is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: there will be permanent shifts in customer behaviors, expectations, and the way we do work. This means everything you put in place today should be a way to make the company more resilient, flexible, and differentiated.
Create workplaces that provide for informal and formal connections
Tracy Brower, Ph.D. sociologist, notes that workplaces need to be created intentionally with places where employees can collaborate and build ideas informally and formally. Even if your workforce will be fully or partially remote, it is important to create opportunities for both types of connection. “It’s the opportunity to run into a colleague in the hallway or the chance to solve a problem with a teammate during a weekly meeting.” These experiences impact engagement, innovation, and productivity, which are part of the big picture of employee experience.
Gather employee sentiment about returning to work
Lorrie Lykins – Managing Editor, VP of Research from i4cp recommends that an organization still in the early planning stages for the return to work should continuously gather employee sentiment about needs and preferences for returning to the office. Leaders should take care to assess the availability of external support, such as schools, childcare services, and public transport, to balance compliance concerns.
Consider the needs of remote employees to promote effective work
Google is providing its employees who choose to stay home with funding to furnish their workspaces with home office needs. Employees who will work from home, the company said, will be allowed to expense up to $1,000 for needs like standing desks and ergonomic chairs.
Make the most of virtual work, even if you’re returning to the office
David Rock, Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, points out that many virtual work practices have been shown to be both cheaper and more productive. This includes ‘speedy meetings,’ where 30- and 60-minute meetings get turned into 25 and 50 minutes.”
Rethink the 9-5 workday
As people now have a tendency to work longer hours, an organization may consider rewarding them with more periods of rest. Moving to a 9/80 schedule with a three-day weekend every other week can improve cognitive capacity, and employees will be better able to show up for work come Monday.
Now is the time to prepare our organizations as best we can for the future ahead. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts, and share this article if you found it useful.
U.S. Workers Discovering Affinity for Remote Work – Gallup
Infections Are Surging In The US, China, And Brazil — Exercise Caution In Your Return-To-Work Plan – Forrester
What Work From Home Teaches Us: How To Create A Great Experience – Forbes
Narrowly Focused Return to Work Preparations = Lost Opportunity to Strengthen Culture – i4cp
Google says it will let workers expense $1,000 worth of office furniture – NY Post
The Framework All Leaders Need to Build a Better Normal – Forbes