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June 17, 2020

Is the Workforce of the Future Remote?

The workforce of the future is remote. In a rapidly changing business landscape, filled with uncertainty, agility is essential. With in-person positions often requiring increasingly long commutes, and an incredibly competitive job market, employees have more options on where and how to work than ever.

Your culture starts with your hiring process, and the values you look for in the candidates you select, getting the right people in the right seats. Companies that are not agile in their approach will miss out on top talent. When the location is no longer considered when hiring for a position, you benefit from hiring globally. If a person is right for a job, geography is no longer a strain or a cost factor.

When hiring from a global workforce, you can hire great people no matter where they live, allowing for more flexibility and accessibility for a larger pool of candidates and a more diverse workforce.

Working remotely should be an opportunity for people to do their best work from anywhere. If the people in your organization cannot be trusted and consistently need to keep tabs on people to ensure productivity, it may be time to review your hiring process and organizational values.

Communication and clarity are vital, especially in the new digital world. At AAG, we intentionally hire self-motivated people. As an organization, we are very clear about our goals and initiatives. Our achievements are measured in outcomes, not hours worked, helping us attract and retain those who are productive and self-motivated.

Statistics show that employees want this flexibility. It could be one of the things that sets your organization ahead of the others when a job offer is on the table. Eighty percent of job seekers said that when faced with two similar employment offers, they would turn down the one that didn’t offer flexible working (even if the less flexible job paid more).

Technology allows employers to provide workers with a flexible schedule, which also increases the talent pool. Parents can work when their children are busy, students can work around school schedules, and people with disabilities can pace themselves and work when they are at their best.

According to Gallup’s 2018 State of the American Workplace report, flexibility is one of the top perks that employees say they desire and would change jobs for. Also, according to Gallup, employees are 43% less likely to experience high levels of burnout if given freedom in how and when to complete tasks.

Although the phrase “working from home” may conjure up images of slackers goofing off in pajamas, data suggests that people who work from home can be more productive than those who work in an office.

These myths give distributed teams and remote workforces an underserved reputation.

Many organizations are quickly learning working from home can be a huge productivity boost, with the added benefit of allowing for savings in rent for office space, when teams don’t all have to be under the same roof.

If you are new to managing a remote workforce, there may be some concerns surrounding common myths about employees who prefer to work remotely. Perhaps you are worried that team members will be less productive, envisioning employees lying in bed at home, wearing pajamas and sweats, eating ice cream and watching Netflix instead of working.

Another common misconception is that remote organizations lack culture.

With office-based organizations, culture and relationships can happen more organically. It becomes necessary to find ways for team members to connect virtually and share when moving away from working in a physical space to a workforce that is all or mostly remote.

At Austin Alliance Group, our culture is not defined by “perks.” We don’t ride bikes around our office, have an air hockey table, premium coffee bar, or beer taps. Instead, AAG’s culture is defined by its values and goals. Or leaders have regular check-ins with the team members they support, and our team has quick daily check-in video calls every morning as we start the workday.

Humans are social creatures. Your most extroverted co-workers have likely struggled the most in recent weeks when physical distancing rules went into effect all over the globe. Believe it or not, even the most introverted team members of your team need connection.

While working in a remote setting, where in-person interactions are less common, it’s easier for some employees to fall victim to isolation, especially for employees who are new to or not yet acclimated to remote work.

As you consider the possibilities of harnessing a remote workforce, don’t forget to consider this need for connection. Fun, laughter, jokes, celebration, and friendships that would all form offline must now be manifested in the virtual space in real-time.

It is imperative to have open and honest conversations, where team members can have the safety to be vulnerable. Leaders must go first and be open and honest when sensitive topics arise to foster this vulnerability-based trust. Our leaders and team members are encouraged to be open and honest with their mistakes, weaknesses, failures, and need for help.

The truth is that ANY workers, regardless of physical location, can slack off if communication is poor, accountability is lacking, and clear expectations are not set.

When team members understand the work, they are accountable for them, and when, they tend to adjust and work accordingly.

Is your organization ready to PIVOT to remote work?

With more and more employers talking about permanent work from home arrangements extending beyond COVID-19, will your organization be one that turns this business challenge into a business opportunity?

To be resilient in this uncertain time, you must unite your workforce and pivot together. There’s strength in agility. We can help you find it.

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