Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve heard it enough already. The hybrid work environment and remote work are here to stay. And you’ve probably read the controversial headlines about companies trying to force their employees to come back to the office. Quiet quitting is a thing now, and employees are redefining what they want from a company culture. Applicants are demanding work-from-home days, and companies are struggling to find their operational footing with all these dynamics.
But, if you’re savvy and capable of looking ahead, this new (not so new) hybrid workforce scenario can actually be incredibly lucrative to your business growth. Instead of fighting the current, you could be looking to lean into it, leveraging the countless benefits. If you can abandon the “it’s how we’ve always done it” mentality and embrace these workplace dynamics, you could significantly change your overall business trajectory in a big way.
Stop Fighting the Remote Working Movement
Let’s start with some stats. You can’t make changes or change your thinking until you recognize that this remote working thing is for real. And as a business leader, you won’t easily be swayed by trending headlines alone. You make your company’s operational decisions based on data. As we prepare to close out 2022, Forbes shared stats that reinforce the hybrid and remote-working movement as a permanent fixture in the American workplace.
- 25% of all professional jobs in the North American hemisphere will be remote by the end of the year.
- 97.6% of remote workers want to continue to work remotely, at least part-time.
- Remote employees are saving 40 minutes a day when no longer commuting.
- Roughly 8% of workers were working from home just prior to the pandemic.
- Roughly 73% of workers were working from home during the pandemic.
- Roughly 42% of workers were working from home, at least part-time, as of February 2022.
A Whole New Pool of Employees
When you embrace the world of remote workers, you can hire employees from literally anywhere in the world. And there are some incredibly talented people out there who can bring innovation and solutions to your company that you wouldn’t have had access to before. The pool of candidates just went from a puddle to an ocean tidal wave.
Talk with your hiring managers and human resources staff about the new way forward in recruiting efforts for employees abroad. Be open to great candidates from other U.S. states who can bring just as much value to your organization from their home office as they could if they shared your zip code. You can lay in new provisions for vetting and interviewing, allowing for a more remote working dynamic. And finding all the right people for your various roles will only allow you to grow and scale more quickly. Remember, too. Anyone you’re not hiring because of proximity will likely end up working for your competition. Any key role within your organization that requires top-notch professionals could be filled more efficiently if you’re fishing from a bigger pond.
The Productivity Angle
Are people working from home or with a hybrid schedule actually just as productive as on-site workers? Sure, there are some lazy apples out there who will look to cheat the remote-working system. But that’s not the norm, at least according to the data. Because of the shift to hybrid work environments, there have been countless studies performed in recent months. On average, those working from home offices are more productive in a few areas, including spending ten fewer minutes every day being less productive. Those working from home also average one more working day each week in terms of productivity. And some benchmarks suggest remote employees are 47% more productive than on-site staff.
Here’s more. Stanford University found that 16,000 workers in its study increased their performance and productivity by 13% because of at-home work. Another company, Prodoscore, cited its 47% increase in productivity mid-pandemic was entirely due to the remote workforce. And according to metrics collected by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 40% of at-home workers worked far more hours than their in-office counterparts. Those additional working hours translate to a 48.5-minute extension on the workday and total almost 193 extra working hours annually.
Developing a Healthy Company Culture
Your teams want hybrid working options. So, naturally, when you give them what they want, they’ll be happier about working. But there’s more to it. Prioritizing a healthier work-life balance improves your overall company culture. According to pre-pandemic stats, employees nationwide were already feeling the stresses of burnout. One study by the American Psychological Association found that:
- 79% of workers surveyed experienced work-related stress within one month of taking the survey.
- 3 in 5 claimed stress led to a lack of interest and energy at work because of stress.
- 36% claimed to suffer from cognitive weariness.
- 32% claimed to suffer from emotional exhaustion
- 44% complained of physical fatigue
Now, when the general workforce has transitioned to hybrid or remote working entirely, employees have different relationships with their work. When your staff members don’t have to contend with frustrating commutes, inner-office politics, and work-related distractions, they become less stressed. In Owl Labs’ 2021 State of Remote Work Report, the stress-related numbers looked more favorable for those who maintained a work-from-home dynamic:
- 90% of the full-time remote employees surveyed admitted to being as productive or more productive in their home offices.
- 74% of workers said working from home post-pandemic improved their mental health.
- 84% reported that remote working made them happier and even willing to take a reduction in pay to maintain their remote working statuses.
Work-life balance matters to your bottom line as a company leader. You can avoid burnout and high turnover rates when you develop a company culture that prioritizes healthier work environments. And adopting a more permanent hybrid working environment can help you do just that.
Changing How You Manage Teams
Part of what scares leaders about remote workers is the oversight and management aspect. What if my teams are taking naps in the middle of the day? What if an employee “clocks out” early and doesn’t effectively report it on their timesheets? And heaven forbid someone come to an online meeting in their pajamas. The truth is you’ll have to change how you manage, train, support, and oversee your remote working teams. And the old-school methods of micromanagement are thrown out the window. It’s less about monitoring the activity and presence of staff and more about measuring productivity and managing results. Here are a few management aspects you should consider adapting and changing.
- Create New Structures and Processes for Everything
- Encourage Input, Feedback, and Ideas
- Improve Channels and Frequency for Communication
- Forget Activity and Focus on Results or Deliverables
- Be Inclusive and Inspire Social Interactions
- Initiate Team-Building Exercises and Collaboration
- Be Available and Supportive
- Recognize Excellence and Be Liberal with Accolades
- Foster an Environment of Trust
- Provide Remote Training
- Connect Company Values and Goals to Teams
- Provide All the Necessary Online Tools for the Job
- Develop a Robust Remote Troubleshooting Process
How Remote Work Affects Customers
Do you know who else appreciates the happier employees working from home? Your customers. When customer service teams and client-facing communicators are satisfied and proud in their careers, they’ll be more apt to do their jobs better. And customers will notice, thus improving your customer service elements. As a company leader, you can expect to see improved customer care results with your hybrid teams working more, engaging with less stress, and experiencing a healthier work environment. And be honest. When customers connect with your company, do you want them interacting with a burnt-out, stressed employee or a productive, happy employee?
Another obvious benefit of remote or hybrid working environments is the reduced overhead. Obviously, if you don’t have to pay for office space, springing for the employee’s home laptop and quality web camera instead will be far more cost-effective. Imagine growing your company’s geographic footprint without having to invest in commercial leases, office furniture, office supplies, routine equipment maintenance, and utilities. Your remote working teams will save, too. They won’t feel the sting of pricey gas to commute.
Why Companies Don’t Adopt Remote or Hybrid Work Environments
Yes, all those aforementioned benefits and advantages sound great. But there are still plenty of organizations out there holding on to the in-person, on-site work requirements. And they have good reasons for doing so. There are new challenges and concerns to consider with a partial or entire remote workforce.
Remote Work Sparks Debates About Security
When surveyed, more than half of IT professionals warn that remote workforces pose increased security risks than on-site workforces. Cybersecurity continues to be a primary focus, with network and data protections and infrastructure investments to build fortified online systems. But with remote workers, many of whom are using private networks to connect from home, are harder to manage from an IT perspective. Security standards continue to evolve, and when adopting a hybrid work schedule, you’ll want to ensure you have all the best tools and resources in place to protect your data and systems.
It Can Be Costly to Pivot Company Resources to Hybrid
Right now, roughly 44% of all global businesses do NOT allow remote work. While the pandemic forced many organizations to go remote in a hurry, those transitions were sustainable for some. There will be an investment into resources when transitioning a company from a traditional work environment to one with remote capabilities. New processes, new resources, and new technologies are required for remote workers to be effective. And for larger companies with thousands of employees, those costs make it harder to pivot.
Some Industries Demand In-Person Work
Of course, if your industry demands in-person work, hybrid and remote working isn’t going to be feasible. For example, supply chain and transportation companies will still need warehouse management staff and drivers. Mechanics can’t repair vehicles from home. Horse trainers can’t ride horses from a desk chair. However, you could have some departments or staff members within your organization who have a more administrative role and can work from home. Sales staff and customer service reps can also work remotely, at least part-time. And that’s why even company leaders of businesses with these specialized industries are recognizing how to tap into at least some of the benefits of hybrid working with portions of their workforce that it makes sense to do so.
Ask Yourself These Questions to Determine If Hybrid Work Makes Sense for You
So, considering all these benefits and potential challenges, how can you make the decision to move forward with adopting a hybrid workforce? Gallup says company leaders should critically think about what a change would mean and look like for their business models. And you can ask yourself these questions:
- Where are your teams working now? Is it effective?
- Where are your employees expected to work in the future?
- What challenges will your departments face in supporting remote flexibility?
- What if employees need help transitioning?
- What will a future hybrid workweek look like, department by department?
- What can you do to make hybrid working more productive and engaging?
It’s also recommended that you connect with your managers and stakeholders to discuss your hybrid pros and cons. And consider collecting feedback directly from your workforce about their preferences and concerns. From there, you can analyze the data and use those sentiments to create policies. Be mindful, too, that preferences will change frequently. When you shift to adopt a hybrid work environment, new concerns might spring up along the way. Staying in touch with your workers and collecting feedback ongoing will ensure a smooth transition and help you maintain a healthy growth trajectory.
The hybrid working environment and remote work will likely be a permanent consideration for every business leader well into the future. Keep these metrics and suggestions in mind as you weigh your options. Hybrid workers could be the key to your business’ growth and success if you know how to properly leverage them!
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