Office Not Required—Why Remote Work Is Here To Stay

by Ashira Prossack

As the world slowly begins to reopen, companies are making decisions on what the post-Covid workplace looks like. While some organizations are itching to bring their employees back into the office, others are opting for hybrid models or sticking with full time remote work.

This isn’t to say that employees will never see each other face to face ever again, just that the 9 to 5 Monday through Friday business model is one for the history books. Remote work isn’t just good for employees – there are advantages for companies too.

Fully remote companies have access to a larger talent pool.

Fully remote workforces allow employers to tap into a much larger talent pool. They aren’t limited to employees located in their immediate geographic area, or who want to move there. A company in rural Pennsylvania can have access to the same talent as a company in San Francisco or New York City. In fact, fully remote companies will likely have the upper hand when it comes to talent, because it eliminates the cost of living burden placed on employees in major cities.

Remote work evens out the playing field.

With remote work, the company itself becomes the most important factor in attracting talent, not where it’s located. This means that a company in rural Pennsylvania can attract the same caliber of employees as a company in New York City. This gives both businesses and smaller cities an advantage.

For employees who relocated during the pandemic, especially those who left cities for the suburbs, making the choice between returning to work if it means relocating again or quitting their jobs will not be an easy one. A recent survey showed that 1 in 3 people would look for a new job if they were required to be back in the office full time, so this is something companies need to keep in mind.

Financial benefits for both companies and employees.

Commercial real estate isn’t cheap, nor are the overhead operating costs of an office building. One remote work study showed that companies save an average of $22,000 per remote employee. Even if companies need to have some of their employees working out of an office, the cost is still reduced due to needing less space.

For employees, the savings from remote work ranges from $2,000 – $5,000 per year. Perhaps even better than that is the time (and stress) saved from not commuting. No commute means no sitting in traffic or dealing with subway delays. This benefits employers too – less stressed employees are more productive and more engaged at work.

It benefits the environment.

Remote work is good for the environment. Reducing or eliminating daily office commutes lowers air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon footprint. With the climate crisis we’re currently in, these changes would have a major impact.

We have a unique opportunity now to create a workplace that truly works for both companies and employees. It will take some time to adapt and adjust to the changes, but if the past year is any indication, anything is possible.

Source: Forbes

Ensuring culture fit when hiring remotely

By Christina Wood

The pandemic’s push to remote work has opened up new talent pools beyond commuting distance. But hiring remotely presents challenges, causing IT leaders to rethink culture and how to assess team fit.

When his team went all remote last year, Precisely COO Eric Yau assumed hiring would stop. But as the pandemic raged on and the company grew, it needed new talent. That’s when it became clear that remote hiring was a game changer.

“When we relaxed the idea that candidates had to be within range of our offices, we got a lot of good candidates,” Yau says. “We went from uncertainty to realizing this is a huge opportunity.”

Opening the talent pool beyond commuting range makes it possible to hire great people, but hiring remotely can be a bit like dating via an app: strange and awkward, even if it’s a terrific opportunity. Identifying technical ability in a remote interview may be easy, but uncovering the elusive alchemy of a person who will bring cultural enhancement to your team is challenging.

“You could interview someone amazing,” says James Durago, hiring manager for Google, “but they won’t do well in the wrong environment. Like if you hire LeBron James and put him in a baseball game. He won’t be at his best.”

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Communication Is Key When Fostering An Open And Diverse Work Environment

by Andrew Jornod

With the rapidly changing social climate, it’s important to focus on the ways in which we, as technology leaders, are coming to the table with new ideas on how to consistently improve and cultivate the social culture and approach to diversity at our companies. Salesforce research found that employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to be empowered to do their best work. So how do you transform a business from within to encourage greater communication, support a diverse workforce and improve collaboration and productivity? I’ve outlined impactful changes all businesses should consider as they continue to evolve and reinforce company culture.

Creating A Safe And Open Environment

Last year was challenging, and most people thought that with the beginning of this new year we would see big changes. So far, only a third of the way into the year, it seems that 2021 is not to be upstaged. As the vaccine rollout continues to be a talking point, the country has also already seen some big social events: the capitol riots, the humanitarian border crisis, the shootings in Atlanta and the shooting in Boulder, Colorado.

With the world finally starting to make heads or tails of the virus and how everyone has been affected, mentally, physically and emotionally, companies really need to take the time to recognize that events like this do not happen in a vacuum. When life-changing things happen outside the workplace, especially during working hours, it’s hard to tell employees to handle their emotions outside their workday. In response to that, it may be a good time to encourage employees to talk about their feelings, concerns or conflicts in a judgment-free zone where they can rely on the support of their coworkers and managers.

One of the ways we have done this at our company has been to promote employee-led conversations that help to gauge our internal climate. Having these conversations after major events provides an outlet for employees and provides support during these emotional and trying times. These discussions can also foster honesty and education between employees and levels of management and help build trust and understanding. It is important technology leaders ensure their employees are getting the best experience at their workplace, and to make sure they are being heard, appreciated and supported.

Talking Works

Along with the social climate, we are also seeing the most diverse group of different generational backgrounds in the workforce ever. Consequently, that comes with communication errors, differences of opinion, varying experiences and differences in communication preferences. Just recently a member of our team had a conversation with two gentlemen in our company who just could not understand why younger members of the staff do not call each other to communicate.

Oftentimes the Millennial or Gen Z generations are accustomed to getting information as quickly as possible. Instead of being upset or mad if these coworkers do not have the same preferred method of communication as you do, the best way to move forward is to be mindful of the differences between employees and achieve a compromise on communication. For example, instead of always sending a message through our online collaboration tools, our company encourages employees to try to make at least one of their communications during the day a phone call or a video chat. This is especially true in a work-from-home environment where tone and expression can be just as important as the message itself, and by standardizing video calls, employees are more apt to understand the message and the “ask.” Conversely, encouraging Baby Boomers in the organization to send a chat when they need quick resolution can help improve response times and productivity.

Effective training of these tools provides better adoption on both ends and can be the root of compromise. Communication is the basis of great relationships and can only help to better the relationships people have with each other, which in turn, can make a company even stronger.

Encourage Honest Communication

People frequently underestimate the effectiveness of having an honest conversation — especially in the workplace, where employees can often feel like their coworkers or even managers are out to get them. This can, and most often will, disrupt the effective growth of a company. With everyone guarding their feelings and trying to strategically play their cards, there is an infinite number of things that could go wrong.

Generating change and creating an open, communicative workforce can start out small. Develop a program where employees in different departments can get to know each other, offer up a forum for people to discuss world events and happenings, reward employees with one-on-one time with the executive of their choice to pick their brains and ask for advice — these are all small examples to make impactful opportunities for employees to connect on a personal level. Sharing information is key to creating strong relationships. These strong relationships lead to more empathy, self-awareness and respect for others that just might stop your next conflict before it even arrives.

Summary

Improving employee engagement is crucial for creating a diverse environment of change, flexibility, open dialogue and community building. I often say that I spend more time with my work family than my real family, and to ensure that our companies are successful, we as tech leaders must encourage trust, communication and understanding, just like we do at home. Implementing these strategies within your workforce can filter down to better performance, better employee retention and better productivity. And that is a win for everyone.

 

About Andrew Jornod

Andrew JornodWith almost 25 years of experience in the energy and utilities industry, Andrew is responsible for leading the organization through transformational growth through organic growth and strategic acquisitions. During his tenure, Andrew has led the organization through many new product and solution releases, securing net new clients of VertexOne, divestiture of non-strategic assets, and securing new capital partners to drive continued growth.

Prior to joining VertexOne, Andrew directed the global energy and utilities business unit at HCL. He was instrumental in helping HCL become the fastest growing, and one of the largest utilities service providers globally. Before HCL, Andrew was a Vice President within Oracle’s Utilities Global Business Unit, with responsibilities that included product management and development, and sales and marketing. In addition, he held key roles at Indus, British Telecom, Syntegra, Control Data Systems and Microsoft.

Source: Forbes

Remote Work Study Shows The Possibility Of A New Corporate Two-Class System

By Jack Kelly

A recent UK study showed the results of working from home during the time period between 2011 and 2020. It looks like remote workers didn’t do too well.

Some of the takeaways include the following:

  • People who mainly worked from home were less than half as likely to be promoted.
  • Around 38% remote workers didn’t receive a bonus.
  • Telecommuters put in 6.0 hours of unpaid overtime on average per week in 2020 and homeworkers worked well into the evening.
  • The sickness absence rate for at-home was 0.9% on average in 2020.

The survey sadly indicates that remote workers felt the pressure and stress to put in more hours while not reaping the rewards. Although we’d like to believe that all at-home workers would be treated similarly to in-office employees, the study, and some basic understanding of human nature, points to inevitable differences in the treatment of the two groups of people.

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Four Ways Today’s Teams Are Making Us Lonely

by Mark Mortensen

They say it’s lonely at the top. But in the workplace, even team members are feeling lonely.

Firms should see loneliness as an organizational issue, not a personal one. Aside from being associated with an array of health problems, loneliness reduces work performance and creativity. It also turns employees into poor decision makers. Firms with lonely employees can ill afford to ignore the problem. Especially when the problem is due in large part to the way teams are designed.

Through our executive education and consulting work, Constance Hadley and I had the opportunity to conduct two research studies on the link between social isolation and team design. We ran our first survey, which involved 223 global executives and managers, in December 2019 and January 2020, well before the pandemic-triggered a shift to work from home. The results surprised us. Even though these executives were part of an average of three teams at the time, 76 percent said they struggled to make connections with their teammates. More than half felt that their social relationships at work were superficial.

In April 2020, we sampled a different group of 275 global executives. Nearly three quarters of them were part of at least two teams. One fifth belonged to five teams or more. As work from home had started for most, feelings of loneliness and social isolation were common. But the findings of our first survey made one thing clear: Solving the problem wasn’t a matter of waiting for in-office work to resume. The pandemic merely highlighted issues brought about by work environments that have drastically changed in the last 30 years.

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