Working from home: Necessity Today, Norm Tomorrow?

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Working from home: necessity Today, norm tomorrow?

Thousands of people working from home now may not go back to an office building. It is hard to predict the course of the rapidly changing scene, but many employers and managers are considering remote work as a mainstay option – one that has approached faster than the speed of imagination.

Many major employers and CEOs, including Mondelez, Nationwide and Barclays, are considering a permanent shift to work from home and reduced office space. India’s largest Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have announced a new 25/25 secure borderless workspaces (SBWS) model that estimates that that by 2025, only 25% of its workforce will need to work from actual offices. In the same vein, according to a new survey from research firm Gartner, about 74 percent of 317 CFOs and business finance leaders in the US expect some of their workforce to become permanent work-from-home employees after the pandemic ends. Nearly a quarter of respondents were considering moving at least 20 percent of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.

Even prior to the outbreak of the global COVID-19 crisis, remote working was a common phenomenon triggered by the rise of the gig economy and the work preferences of millennials. The freelancer economy and a growing number of Gen-Z in the workforce was a precursor to the ‘new normal’ of working from home. 

In the coming months and years, enterprises will have to make fundamental changes in terms of mindset and strategies when it comes to technologies and expertise that helps in crafting compelling digital experiences for all stakeholders. However, there is a lot of work to do to prepare for an expanded permanent work-from-home workforce. A few parameters to take into consideration are:


In the coming months and years, enterprises will have to make fundamental changes in terms of mindset and strategies when it comes to technologies and expertise that helps in crafting compelling digital experiences for all stakeholders.


Empathy

At the core of crafting compelling employee experiences is empathy. In the post-COVID-19 world, there is a lot of anxiety of what lies ahead, especially with regards to job security, safety, meeting company expectations, and more. Enterprises are advised to embark on empathy sessions with key stakeholders to delve deep into the mindsets of employees and craft engagement experiences accordingly. r:

Culture, communication & collaboration

While technology will play a key role in enabling the new normal in the months to come, culturally, it is a big shift. Companies have to work harder to build organizational culture, foster a sense of community, facilitate information sharing, inspire working towards a common goal and encourage collaboration. People miss the camaraderie, the human element and social aspects of being in office with their teams. Remote video calls can’t replace the simplicity of popping in to say hello and catch up.

Security

While this may seem obvious, implementing an effective remote working plan is not just about shifting laptops and ensuring connectivity. Client and company confidentiality and safety measures on data security are issues which need to be considered, especially by those in the B2B services industry. 

Technology

Companies have been investing in their technological capabilities for years, and most have the networking, the security, and the connectivity capabilities in place to make this happen. New enterprise-scale, software-driven solutions offer new ways to implement things like VPNs. Employees who work from home need more support, and companies will need to rethink their IT strategies. This could mean helping employees get home office setups similar to what they are used to in office, new types of employee contracts and revamped IT support.

Work-life balance

Always a tricky thing to achieve, working from home can make balancing work and life even more challenging. When home becomes a place of work, the lines between the two can easily blur. Organizations deciding to take the leap into a permanent work-from-home model should help their employees with aspects such as comfortable working environments, setting working hours, taking breaks during the day, and setting boundaries.

Productivity

The sudden workplace transition has businesses facing the challenge of keeping employees both productive and engaged. With remote work opening as a permanent option, it is no longer a matter of working to time, but rather to productivity. C-Suite executives and IT leaders have to implement the right technology, processes and culture needed to succeed while working from home. Adapt permanent remote-work strategies to maximize productivity, and create collective purpose in order to have company-wide buy-in to the larger vision.

What do you think is the workspace of the future? Is working from home the answer, or offices? – Or hybrid of the two? What will be the key implications for enterprises? In our next post we will talk about hybrid models that marry flexibility with structure. Do share your views.

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