From office by default to hybrid by default


It is no doubt that the current pandemic has urged organisations big and small to accelerate adoption of remote work. In fact, even before the Indian government announced a national lockdown, many had already adopted a remote work model keeping employee safety in mind, and had initiated the transition of resources to a distributed platform. Now, while some organisations have issued extended remote work guidance for their employees until the beginning of 2021, others are experimenting with a hybrid model, combining both remote work and returning to the office, in a staggered manner. A Gartner report in June 2020 revealed that 82% of company leaders plan to continue with remote working for some of their employees, even after the pandemic. Regardless, almost every organisation is now looking to innovate their operations, to accommodate flexibility, and stay resilient.

Recalibrating investments to support this hybrid model depends on requirements of the job as well as local government and health regulations. The ability of offices to scale up, as well as down, is a crucial aspect to keep in mind while building a workforce around the hybrid model and restructuring businesses, to better adjust to changing conditions, and support employees โ€“ as we have been experiencing during the current pandemic. Industries like IT/ ITeS, BPO, advertising and media, marketing, and education, were able to transition to a full work from home model by adopting simple team and project management tools.

Similarly, in the tech world, digital businesses have been faster to adopt remote work practices. Others however, such as manufacturing, retail, automotive, and supply chain industries would need to resort to a mix of digital enablement and ad hoc workplace services for continuity and productivity.

Giving employees the flexibility to work from their location of choice will become the future of the workplace experience. This will also help to engage and retain high-quality talent, and enable organisations to recruit regardless of the location. To keep employee morale high, empathetic communication, transparency, personal engagement channels, virtual events or virtual coffee sessions help bring in an element of normality in this new digital workplace. Also, over time, a remote or hybrid model will greatly encourage more women to join the workforce, who were previously unable to pursue a full-time career due to family responsibilities or mobility issues.

As the workforce becomes increasingly distributed, organisations realise that in order for employees to be effective at their job, it does not matter if theyโ€™re working from an office or remotely. When employees are more distributed, the work itself becomes distributed. Open source, with its global community of individuals collaborating across time zones and locations, has in a way created remote work. And it has provided valuable lessons to drive productive teams through communication and ways of working that are distributed, asynchronous and online. Businesses must experiment with models that optimise their long-term goals and embrace new models that are remote or hybrid by default. Factors such as employee productivity, overhead costs, talent and training, and customer experience should be considered while developing new workplace strategies.

When companies transition to distributed teams, continuously promoting a remote-friendly culture, and helping teams to be productive regardless of their location becomes key to a successful business. With remote work set to become a long-term business strategy, the future of work is being redefined: distributed teams and hybrid office strategies will reshape workplace culture and business models, which will result in more resilient, adaptable and responsive workforce than ever before.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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