Transforming remote work from an option into a condition
They say we need 21 days to form a new habit. When it comes to remote work – a working style adopted by many companies with the advent of the pandemic – employees have long exceeded this threshold. After the instability of the initial days or even weeks, in which people got more or less used to the changes that occurred, such as Zoom meetings, sharing and efficiently using the workspace, finding work-life balance, remote work has since become normal for most employees. But what happens now, if they are asked to return to the office?
A recent study conducted by EY shows that for more than 50% of employees around the world, resignation is a viable option if the employer will not offer them some form of work flexibility after the pandemic. The same study states that 9 out of 10 employees want their workplace and work schedule to be flexible.
When I saw these numbers I said, “Wow! This is huge!” Because, when you think about the fact that a huge number of employees around the world would resign if they are not offered this type of flexibility, you realize that the remote work style represents the future of the labor market. That it is no longer merely an option for employers, but with every passing day, it is becoming a condition demanded by the market.
A future that companies must adapt to – if they have not already done so – as soon as possible because the current generations of employees have different expectations and different needs than previous ones. For many, they no longer focus primarily on the salary when choosing a job, or not only the salary – other benefits, including work flexibility, have come to weigh as much, or maybe even more than the financial reward itself.
In the last year, I have met countless examples of employers who have understood this fact, but also of employers who still need time to properly manage the trust given to teams when they cannot closely supervise their employees and everything is carried out online. I saw job postings offering you the opportunity to work remotely or at the office in any of the EU countries the company was present, but also people who, when they had finally adapted to working remotely, were called back to the office, later sent back home in a few weeks’ time, and so on.
When it comes to jobs that do not require the physical presence of employees, as it is in the case of factories, hospitals, etc., the online realm offers infinite solutions for work to be carried out remotely. Through technology, increasingly complex platforms and applications are available today that help us in this regard, either for the activities that are on the agenda, like meetings, conferences, presentations, etc. or regarding workspaces from which employees who perhaps do not have the necessary private space at home or who simply want to find inspiration in other places can go to work remotely.
If we don’t dress the same, we don’t eat the same food and we don’t have the same hobbies, why would we all like to work in the same way? Everyone has a different style, take their resources for energy and inspiration from various things, whether we are talking about what lies in front of their eyes when they work or the people who surround them – and who can, of course, be their colleagues, but also their family or perfect strangers lounging at a bistro. A satisfied employee will certainly be more productive. Why not make the most of it? We already have the example of giant companies, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Fujitsu, BDO, and many others that have already set these new standards when they chose the remote or hybrid work-mode for their teams.
Moreover, once they tasted freedom, it would be frustrating for many to return to the routine of the 9 to 5 job. And we’re not talking about the freedom to do anything you want during business hours except for work, as many suspicious employers would think (when, on the contrary, we often lose much more time in the office during extended breaks, while having discussions with colleagues or through delays caused by traffic jams, and more).
But the freedom to open the window without being asked to close it because a colleague “feels a draft”, to work with the lights on or off, on the couch or in a café, to save money that is usually spent on transportation and office clothes on anything else, to enjoy your lunch break to the fullest, without waiting in line for minutes on end in front of the microwave. These are just a few examples that I believe you have encountered at least once in your own career.
With what do you associate the freedom to work remotely?