In March 2020, workers and companies had to adapt and make concessions when Covid-19 lockdown measures pushed millions to work from home. Over the following three years, a cultural shift occurred, with leadership eager to return to business as usual and many workers reluctant to return to the office full-time. While many employees have embraced the remote and hybrid working model, some employers have not been as enthusiastic. Research has shown that a rift between worker preferences and leadership’s willingness to change and adapt has emerged.
In its Future of Work report, LinkedIn predicts that one of the biggest workplace trends for 2023 will continue to be remote and hybrid working. During 2022, 58% of Americans worked from home at least one day a week, with 38% being fully remote. In the UK, the number of people working exclusively from home increased from 5.7% in January to 43.1% in April 2020.
Research by Accenture found that while CEOs believe that the pandemic has exposed a need to do things differently from an organizational and people perspective, they are not ready to change. Out of 200 CEOs surveyed, 66% noted that while they know that things need to change, they are reluctant to pursue work models and approaches that differ from those used in the past. This unwillingness to change contributes to attrition. Workers who do not feel they can be productive, healthy, or happy in a set work location are seven times more likely to want to leave their organizations.
Far from being a vestige of the pandemic, all research is pointing to remote and hybrid work becoming a standard workplace feature. As such, leaders will need to find ways to overcome the challenges that accompany managing remote and geographically dispersed teams.
Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant and lasting impact in shaping how we work. The realities of remote and hybrid work present advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered by both company leadership and employees undertaking this new approach to work:
Recruiting top talent. As the demand for remote flexibility rises allowing employees to work from home can be attractive to new recruits. Fully remote options also drastically increase the breadth of a company’s search, allowing leaders to recruit top talent that would otherwise be ruled out due to geographic constraints.
Increased productivity. According to Forbes and a number of studies, working from home has actually increased employee productivity. Removing the distractions of in-person socializing and back-to-back meetings allows some people to increase their focus.
Greater work-life balance.
Lower operational costs + easier business growth. Growing a business requires less overhead spending and has fewer constraints in terms of physical space.
Less informal interaction with colleagues. This can lead to lost opportunities for teams to build trust and collaborate.
Impact on mental health. The inability to disconnect can lead to burnout.
Cybersecurity concerns. It is critical to consider potential loopholes and ensure a secure setup for all employees who work remotely.
Isolation + challenges onboarding new hires. Working away from an office setting can lead to employees feeling less connected to their colleagues and make it difficult to develop and engage with company cultures.
Difficulty managing teams. Mentoring, training and staff development are made more challenging.
As the shift in the way we work seems to be here to stay, employers can learn to better navigate this landscape by implementing some new measures.