While the coronavirus may become the catalyst that permanently alters the way we work in the future, the number of companies offering remote or flexible work options to employees has been steadily increasing over the past five years. A combination of fiscal pragmatism, changing employee expectations and new technologies have been driving this transformation. Utilizing remote and flexible workspaces is an opportunity for enterprises to focus resources on scaling, instead of supporting long-term leases for underused office space. Flexibility at work has been shown to lead to a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. No longer considered a perk, it is a competitive advantage that helps attract the best employees and increases rates of retention.
Can Your Company Go Remote?
As flexible work is embraced more and more by established enterprises with global teams, and not only by savvy startups and tech companies, businesses looking to proactively adapt this organizational concept should carefully consider the following:
- Many positions can be adapted to remote work.
- There are a few strategies a company can choose: from being remote-friendly to semi-remote to completely remote.
- Give teams time to acclimate to a new way of collaborating. Start with a weekly virtual meeting and go from there. Be patient, take notes and get feedback.
According to Angelique Slob, founder of Hello Monday, a consulting service that helps companies transition to remote work, introducing flexible work concepts takes time.
“Begin slowly,” she recommends. “You might start by holding key meetings online, even if people are located in the same building. It gives everyone the chance to get used to collaborating and sharing ideas as if they were working remotely.”
Getting Ready to Go Remote
A carefully considered strategy will save time and resources in the long run. Five key points to consider:
- Invest in the best remote working technologies that your company can buy. Choose ones that are user-friendly and integrate easily with other tools and software. In addition to basics such as a laptop, smartphone and internet access, this can include communications apps such as Slack, video conference tools and file-sharing programs such as Google Drive.
- Provide support and education to leadership and managers to ensure a successful transition. They need to be prepared by having the right tools and defined expectations of their teams. Regular meetings, whether they are virtual or in person, go a long way in identifying and subverting issues.
- Update HR policies to reflect the next generation of workplace organization. HR policies outline the expectations and responsibilities of all team members. Remote work hinges on trust and delivering results – communication is key to both of these.
- Set aside one or two days a month for everyone in the company to get together. Some businesses rent a conference space and do presentations. Or it can be as simple as a standing Meetup in a coworking space.
“It’s impossible to have a one-size-fits-all approach for flexibility. We let our teams figure out what works best for them, as long as they deliver excellent work, on time. The rest is all fair game,” writes Anne Donvan, the US People Experience Leader at PwC, in the Harvard Business Review, about the company’s transition to flexible work for everyone.
She adds, “When it comes to flexibility, trust is not earned. If you trust an individual enough that you hired them to join your organization, you also should trust them to get the work done when and where they prefer, as long as they meet deadlines.”
The First Step
The growth of coworking spaces domestically and internationally offers an opportunity for businesses to develop a remote work strategy that will give them a competitive advantage and optimize productivity. The Upflex technology platform provides on-demand access to over 8,000 workspaces and other flexible office spaces around the globe, helping companies make sound real estate decisions while creating a happier workforce.