Remote work evolves into hybrid work and productivity increases, data shows
The data is now proving it: The work-from-anywhere / work-from-home model is working and passed its most crucial test ever, pushing through the Covid crisis and now a key workplace productivity strategy for years 2020. In a recent report from Accenture, 83% of 9,326 workers surveyed say they prefer a hybrid model – in which they can work remotely at least 25% of the time.
Tellingly, organizations that enable a resilient workforce to be more productive and healthier anywhere also reap financial rewards, according to the study. A majority of high revenue growth companies, 63%, have already implemented productivity models wherever employees have the option of working remotely or on site. While the vast majority (69%) of negative growth or no growth businesses still focus on where people are going to work physically, prioritizing all on-site or remote businesses rather than allowing the hybrid.
Working full time from anywhere can be a good thing, but it’s not optimal for those in the early stages of their careers. Younger people need to be in the world, bond, find mentors, and learn how things work – not sitting alone in front of a screen all day. This is validated by the Accenture survey, which finds that a hybrid model that works for all generations can be a challenge: three in four Gen Zs (74%) want more opportunities to collaborate with colleagues face-to-face. -face, a higher percentage than Gen Xers (66%) and Baby Boomers (68%).
Leaders who lead their organizations on work-from-home mandates report that organizational support is essential. âThe pandemic has fundamentally changed the way businesses operate and has underscored the importance of workplace flexibility,â said Edward Wagoner, Digital CIO of JLL Technologies. âThrough our own scalable workplace processes, we realize that the success of short- and long-term work strategies depends on employee safety and comfort, data-driven workplace knowledge and adaptability to fluid circumstances such as government mandates and requirements. â
The events of the past year have finally put an end to a misconception: Allowing employees to work remotely means lost productivity. If anything, last year has shown the opposite to be true. The Accenture survey finds that 40% of people believe they can be productive and healthy anywhere – either entirely remote or on-site or a combination of both – as the hybrid workplace emerges.
âThe first thing that many HR managers, including myself, have discovered over the past year is that people are much more adaptable than we expected,â says Donna Venable, vice-president. Ricoh North America Executive President of Human Resources. âOur main concern with remote working before the pandemic was a loss of productivity. However, despite all the difficulties and competing priorities – personal health crises, caring for family, and dealing with the initial technological challenges of remote working – productivity has not faltered.
âThis means that we will not be returning to a world where employees are ‘allowed’ to work from home, but rather, they are encouraged to be flexible,â says Venable. At the same time, she adds, âI don’t see companies abandoning offices. While there may be cost savings from a real estate perspective by reinventing the way we use our office spaces, a much more valuable opportunity is to maintain a healthy and positive employee culture.
Hybrid work models “will be critical in the months and years to come as organizations embrace operational flexibility with remote working and changing employee preferences,” says Wagoner. âThe office will no longer be the only place where work is done; the pandemic has proven that work can often be done from anywhere. Instead, in today’s world, the office is where people come together to collaborate, innovate, create and build a culture, with face-to-face interactions being a valuable part of the equation. “
The following new ways of thinking – forged through the Covid crisis – can help guide the path towards the emergence of a flexible workplace emerging from the 2020s:
- Make resources available to remote workers. âWhat separates these workers who are productive from those who are disconnected and frustrated is not stress, but whether they have the right resources at the individual and organizational level to help them be productive. no matter where, âsays the Accenture report. âThese resources range from professional independence and positive mental health to supportive leadership and a digitally mature organization.â
- Build confidence at all levels. Companies ânow need to rethink their work models and offices to meet health and safety standards, prioritize employee trust and provide a better work experience,â says Wagoner. âBusiness leaders spanning IT, human resources, facilities management and more need to collaborate on comprehensive policies and procedures that build confidence in their people and the workplace.
- Emphasize personal relationships. âWe have to be together to collaborate and connect in ways that are not possible remotely,â says Venable. âIt’s something that I believe employees crave after a year without these relationships.â This highlighted another positive result, “the natural creation of a flatter corporate culture,” she adds. âSuddenly our leaders weren’t traveling, they had time to engage more personally and wanted to make sure their teams were engaged. We’ve also seen this thirst for connection come from employees. We often talk about push and pull in HR, our weekly video chats with the CEO and our town halls were not a push but rather an attraction. “
- Develop your digital skills. âDigital literate organizations have higher revenue growth and are more likely to be considered great places to work,â the Accenture study authors point out. âFocus on designing tailor-made skills and learning paths that meet the needs of all segments of the workforce.â Venable says video conferencing technology has had a huge impact on his company’s ability to connect its remote workforce. âThe only real issue we saw was bandwidth in the home for many employees. Not everyone had the connection to work from home, but once these issues were resolved, the technology offered a huge advantage. It has allowed all of us to stay connected in what has been the most disconnected experience we will likely face. “
As Covid recedes, âwe will emerge with an entirely new perspective of virtual work,â continues Venable. âEmployees won’t balance virtual school with work, nor the many other challenges we face today, and productivity will likely increase as employees can better balance work and life. They can be at home when they need to and always have the option to meet in person when needed. “