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Is ‘Forever Remote’ Best for Your Business? How to Decide

In May of 2020, Twitter and Square announced their decision to let employees work from home forever. Shortly after, Google and Facebook announced plans to have employees work from home at least through the end of 2020. But what if you’re not a global, multi-billion dollar technology company? What might remote work look like for you? To answer that question, we talk with two CEOs, an HR leader, and research student studying organizational leadership and virtual teams. In our discussion, we explore opportunities, challenges, and how to make the best decision for your company and culture.

Presented with CareerPlug’s Director of HR, Natalie Morgan.

Watch the webinar wrap up here: 4 Tips for Leaders Considering Remote Work (5 min)

Top takeaways from the webinar:

1. In a poll, 81% of attendees said they expect their business to be partially remote a year from now; 13% expect to be fully remote and 6% expect to be back in the workplace. When we asked about top challenges or concerns,

  • 35% said staying connecting and communicating effectively
  • 28% said convincing stakeholders to make a change
  • 24% said balancing remote and in-person workers
  • 7% said managing technology, security, and systems
  • 7% said hiring and onboarding

2. Despite having different views on remote work, all our panelists saw higher than average productivity from at-home employees, which makes remote work an avenue worth exploring, even if it’s something your business has done before.

3. Keep in mind, we’re evaluating remote work in a time and environment that’s not ideal. There are kids home from school, limited social events, etc. So, take an iterative approach and use the decisions you make today as stepping stones to learn from, knowing that preferences and policies will likely change in a year or two years from now.

4. To support in-office and remote workers at the same time, you need to have processes that can be done by anyone, from anywhere. This may mean re-writing your processes, but it’s important to do because in some cases, in-office workers are having to pick up the slack for employees who aren’t physically there. Other times, remote workers are left out of communication and culture. Whatever the case, you want to eliminate this friction and create equal stature for everyone.

5. Surveys are an easy way to gauge employees’ preferences on remote work. But, there are different ways to look at survey data. One panelist shared that 24% of her employees felt their team could work well fully remote. Next, she looked at the data by team and found there were only three teams out of 53 where the majority of members agreed they could work well fully remote. This gave her better insight on what is best for her team-oriented culture.

6. One panelist shared his research, which showed 20-30 of people – regardless of their generation or comfort with technology – will struggle in a remote environment. These are people who either need supervision to be successful, or crave social interaction at work. Two other panelists echoed this, saying the demand for remote work doesn’t come from Gen Z or digital natives like you might expect, but from employees who have families and need work/life balance.

7. Since there are no hallway chats or ‘rubbing elbows’ in a remote environment, think about ways to give remote workers visibility and access to leadership, like they would have in the office. This could be virtual events or presentations where employees around the company showcase ideas or speak on a topic. Employees will be able to build and maintain relationships, provided you give them avenues to do so.

8. Have an honest view of what differentiates your business. Is it access to talent and innovation? Is it in-office culture? Then decide if remote work makes sense as a talent attraction strategy, a retention strategy, or something else.