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The Rise of Remote Work and How to Assess Growth and Development

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COVID-19 has accelerated the rate of remote work adoption globally, but what have we found out? We have discovered that remote work is not bad, after all.

In the past, many companies have been wary about transitioning to telecommuting, even when most of their office operations do not require the physical presence of employees. The main fears expressed by leaders include a possible decline in employee productivity and a lack of clarity about the measurement of employee performance.

The performance of individual employees determines the trajectory of the company. Without reliable methods to assess its employees’ work, it is difficult for any organization to achieve growth and development.

This article addresses the concerns of managers who are hesitant about remote work and those who have already implemented remote work but have trouble with tracking performance for workplace productivity and office growth.

Set Clear Objectives and KPIs to Assess Growth

How do you know if your employees are getting stuff done? The inevitable first step is to define what it means to get stuff down. In business lingua, that means to establish work objectives and set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Effective KPIs are aligned with the company’s overall goals and must contribute to the company’s growth and development.

Communicating to employees the metrics by which their performance will be assessed helps them to understand their priorities. Clear expectations, keep employees focused.

Acknowledge Unquantifiable Performance Indicators

In setting KPIs, though, you need to acknowledge that numbers don’t tell the full story. Not to suggest that you should discount the importance of numbers, but you should also be cognizant of the Key Intangible Performance Indicators. Admittedly, working remotely can compound the vagueness of such indicators — leading employees to feel their efforts are not recognized enough.

Some aspects are just not quantifiable, such as leadership, creativity, innovation, organization, and engagement. There are quantifiable indicators that may make us understand employee engagement and organization, but the subjects themselves are indefinite.

Until new ways and means of measuring these intangibles are discovered — company leadership should acknowledge that Key Intangible Performance Indicators exist, and look for ways to recognize employees who go above and beyond.

Support Employee Development

Assessments should be more supportive than they are judgmental. Employees appreciate frequent check-ins when the aim is to keep them on their toes and support them through difficulties. However, the manager that goes around constantly pointing out his team members’ flaws (without thoughtfully helping them overcome their challenges) is only seen as grumpy.

The rules also apply in remote work, where managers (out of fear of losing control) begin acting intrusively by implementing extreme corporate surveillance. Tracking and assessment are not the ends themselves; the goal of tracking employee performance should be to improve team productivity. In essence, remote work management and performance should usher us into a new era of trust, more autonomy, accountability, and team collaboration.

“Nowadays, it is not enough to equip teams with new digital tools for remote collaboration, which many rapidly did when the pandemic began. It’s only the first step,� says Maxime Bouroumeau-Fuseau, co-founder and CTO of Paris-based Digicoop, a worker cooperative behind the work management platform Kantree. “The changing workplace calls for an environment where employees are empowered to take control of their work.

In our experience as a co-op, when employees are given more autonomy and when micromanagement is replaced by collaboration, teams deliver better results while individual employees feel more invested in their work.�

Allow Autonomy

Many people choose to work remotely because they want to feel a greater sense of ownership of their time and schedules. Therefore, even though time tracking is important for many remote teams, it goes without saying that hourly input is not always a good measure of performance.

The true measure of performance is the work outcome. Remote work allows employees to choose their own work hours; what does it matter if an employee works less per hour but still meets targets consistently? Researchers have shown that autonomy increases productivity.

Use the Right Tools and Analytics for KPIs

With physical offices out of the picture, it is the tools that a remote team uses that define the structure of work and operations. There are tools that keep employees accountable and provide actionable insights into how work gets done in the organization.

The rise of remote work has promoted the importance of analytics of everyday work data to ensure that employees are more productive.

The insights gained help team leaders and the management to understand if the organization is meeting set targets of performance and productivity and determine the rate of growth and development. Tools such as Trello, Kantree, Jira, Asana, Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc., are useful for assessing work progression.

Establish a Culture of Accountability

Note, though, that tools are only as effective as the culture in which they are situated. Your team might be using the best tools, but poor communication can derail employees from the main goals of the company.

When there are issues with employee performance, you must be able to recognize if there is a problem with the tools being used or with the management. Accountability should not only be down-up; it should be top-down too. Managers should be accountable to their subordinates and transparent about office dealings.

Conclusion

Going by statistics, remote work actually improves employee productivity and performance. This, in turn, leads to the overall growth of the company. However, this growth must be intentional. Organizations should implement proper (and flexible) assessment models to know when their work is really progressing and when there are problems that must be solved.

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The Future of Work is Powered by Technology that Connects People

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The future of work is all about people. It’s about enabling and empowering people to work their way — and to bring the best of themselves to work every day. Technology plays a key enabling role in this work. But the nature of work shouldn’t be driven by technology; it should be driven by people and their ingenuity and creativity—with the right technology enabling them to exercise their talents with minimal obstacles and distractions.

People lead, technology facilitates the future of work.

My advice to business leaders is to understand what propels people to do their best work and what inhibits them. Use technology to serve your people, not rule them. Use work management technology to connect people, share information, unlock communication barriers, and increase visibility between cross-functional teams who need to coordinate their efforts and align with the company’s strategy.

At Informatica, I lead a team focused on B2B demand generation, digital marketing, and customer success. We’ve recognized for some time that the concept of work and how it gets done is changing. The way we meet, collaborate, and support each other is changing. It doesn’t always happen face to face, and not always between 9 am and 5 pm.

Our work management technology is central to facilitating and organizing work as we adjust to constantly changing workplace dynamics.

There is an increasing appreciation that work happens within the context of everyone’s wider life, their family life, their leisure time, their personal commitments. Never has that been more starkly apparent than in the times we are living through now.

New normal prioritizes the well-being.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed working life for everybody. Priorities and perspectives have changed, and above all else, there is an emphasis on wellness. At Informatica, like many others, we have put our employees’ well-being first. When the crisis hit, there was a huge focus on ensuring our employees had the resources they needed to communicate, connect with each other, and work from home.

Adjusting to working life under Covid-19 has been a complex, emotional experience that has required a great deal of sensitivity to navigate. People are now living—and trying to work—in a range of different circumstances. Some are alone, some have children at home, some are caring for at-risk relatives, and others are dealing with the most serious impacts of this pandemic. It means that we have to bring an element of sensitivity and prioritization whenever we are talking to colleagues.

People’s well-being now bubbles up at the front of every conversation. It means that now, more than ever, we have to consider individual circumstances and how those impact people’s ability to work. Informatica’s leadership was very pragmatic about the situation as we all rearranged our working lives. They assured us that we were not going to work from home, but we were working at home during a pandemic, which has a very different feel to it.

Personal approach to customer messaging.

As a digital marketer in these times, working on projects like the transformation of our website, I personally felt an immense amount of pressure. We needed to use our digital tools more effectively than ever and to be more personal in our interactions with customers.

The challenge was finding a way to maximize digital return on investment during this unprecedented situation. We had to convince salespeople they weren’t going to be able to engage in traditional ways and were going to have to switch to online channels. And we had to get our messaging right.

Some companies and some sectors have been hit much harder than others, so we didn’t want to take a one-size-fits-all approach. You can target customer messaging using a chainsaw or a scalpel.

With the scalpel comes precision. When we considered the breadth of our customer base, we needed to talk to customers about the issues that mattered to them—in their vernacular. That added pressure on marketing teams.

Some people believe we reach more customers if we have broad “vanilla� messaging, but in reality, the extra work required to personalize messaging is worth it. You can’t be caring and altruistic about Covid-19 when talking to colleagues and employees and then not manifest that care and attention in the way you speak to your customers or prospects.

As a marketer, I am customer-obsessed, and helping customers underpins everything I do. Getting our messaging right at this critical time was absolutely vital to gaining and maintaining trust and confidence with existing and prospective customers.

Marketing insights inform conversations.

As a long-established business, we knew that if we went through the rigor of producing content that’s relevant right now, then organically, customers would come to us. So, we prioritized using marketing data to create more targeted messaging and conversations for our sales teams.

We are now informing sales about the topics that customers are concerned about and creating rich dashboards that enable sales teams to respond favorably to customers in different situations. It’s about engaging customers in meaningful ways in uncertain times.

Governance is important too. We don’t want to bombard customers, but we do want to give them multiple opportunities to engage with us. As a result, this crisis has ushered in a new era of creativity and curiosity that enables our sales teams to engage in the right ways with customers.

Everyone now recognizes that the blanket approach to customer communications can do more harm than good since it risks being insensitive to the circumstances different businesses find themselves in. We are better served to let people know that we are 100% sensitive to the times we are in and that we absolutely want to help them.

Mindset shift for customer success

I have stated before that my overriding ambition is to deliver such a great customer experience that we acquire every net new customer and win every deal. That ambition has not changed since the pandemic struck.

Given the size of my goal, I need my teams to shift their mindset from simply doing more work to focusing on doing the right work. If my team isn’t obsessed with removing friction from the customer experience, then they’re not doing the right work. Focusing on the right work maximizes our productivity, it gives us the best return on investment, and helps us get in front of the right customers.

Work management technology maximizes effectiveness.

This is where work management technology really comes into its own. Our Workfront platform enables everyone in disparate teams—and now in disparate locations—to share information, view progress against tasks, create content collaboratively, share ideas, and manage complex processes.

It helps people see how their work aligns with that of other teams and our overall customer objectives. It gives context to our work because we know what other teams are doing, so that together we can move forward in the most productive way.

For us, having a single work management platform that connects all our work results in better transparency, better visibility, better decisions, and better business outcomes. There’s a shared responsibility when, for example, you see someone on your team has a heavier load; you get the chance to redistribute resources and be selfless in the pursuit of your goals.

It’s a key way in which technology is enabling us to work more effectively and efficiently. It helps us to ensure that everyone in the team can focus on being productive, rather than just being busy.

Managing work one step at a time

The distinction between being productive and being busy is an important one when it comes to the future of work. At Informatica, one thing we have learned about effective work management is that productivity is enhanced when you put more intermediate milestones in front of people, rather than giving them a single ultimate goal.

By breaking down major projects into a series of smaller tasks, leading to a series of clear milestones, people can focus much more on what needs to be done now to complete each task. It’s about dividing up the conveyor belt of what has to be produced into smaller increments to enable people to be more productive on our journey toward each objective.

All these stages can be coordinated and managed via our work management platform. Everyone can see all the tasks involved and the progress against each one. This has helped us to become tighter and more agile as a team so that we work together in a coordinated way without duplication of effort towards clearly defined goals.

The future of work has arrived.

I stated at the outset that the future of work is all about empowering people to bring the best of themselves to work every day. And work management technology plays a key role in enabling people to do that. It connects them wherever they are and allows them to contribute and create—particularly now we are all physically isolated—in ways that complement their individual working circumstances.

In many ways, the future of work that I envisaged has already arrived. It has been ushered in sooner than anyone expected by the intervention of the global pandemic. It seems now that attitudes to work management and working practices have shifted so significantly that returning to the old ways of 9-to-5 office working might feel like a backward step.

How do we manage work without boundaries?

So what now for the future of work? If work in the future is without boundaries, if it transcends location and time and other previously held conventions about when and how work is done, how do we maintain a balance? If work parameters become boundless, then how do you compensate people for the work they do? If we no longer measure work by how much time you spend on it, how do we fairly reward people for their efforts?

As we have all seen vividly during the current pandemic, individual well-being must come above all else. Work cannot be allowed to take over people’s lives; we need to maintain a healthy work-life balance. To do this in the future, employers will need to invest in and deliver comprehensive health and wellness programs to ensure employees can achieve that balance.

When we are recruiting in the new world of work, conventional benefits packages and on-premises perks may become irrelevant. Instead, well-being initiatives will take on new significance, and how successful businesses invest in these programs will be an important differentiator of workplaces in the future.

Let’s continue to put people first.

Technology will have a pivotal role to play in enabling this new world of work. Centralized, shared work management platforms will be vital in connecting people, in facilitating effective collaboration, and in maintaining the focus on productivity among teams working in different locations and to different time schedules.

But people’s needs must remain at the heart of the way work is organized so that individuals can bring the best of themselves to work while maintaining a healthy balance in their lives. We will need to ensure that the compassion and consideration we have all shown towards each other throughout this pandemic is not put behind us but that it is used to inform the way we work together in the future for the benefit of our organizations and our customers.

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How to Enable Successful Remote Environments

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Work-life has changed drastically and unpredictably since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly everyone that can work from home has done so, and with little time to prepare. While this is non-traditional remote work experience, many business leaders are considering supporting remote work permanently – at least in some capacity – as we emerge from our current situation.

This is largely due to the competitive advantages remote work provides over office-first businesses, including increased employee productivity and engagement. This increased productivity drives better performance and, in turn, more profits. Decades of Gallup research shows that highly engaged employees are 15% more productive when they work remotely, and highly engaged workplaces claim 21% higher profitability.

Given this, businesses who have adapted successfully to remote work aren’t expected to rush back to the office any time soon. In fact, a recent study conducted by Motus found that once stay-at-home orders are lifted, as many as 30-40% of companies could permanently spend more time working remotely than in an office – a substantial increase from what business looked like before the pandemic.

The Business Advantages of Remote Work

Having a large remote workforce has numerous advantages for both businesses and their employees. Without commuting, employees can increase their focus on their work, reduce costs on once-necessary items – like gas – and find their own work-life balance. This has led to greater employee satisfaction and retention for businesses. Furthermore, as they are no longer limited by geography, employers can access a larger talent pool when looking at potential recruits.

Many have also experienced near-term savings on utility bills and in-office perks. But beyond these immediate savings, there are much larger savings opportunities when businesses embrace a remote work culture, for example:

  • Office space: Dedicated office space costs businesses $12,000 per employee every year, and office space leases are typically one of the least flexible costs of running a business. By reducing the number of workspace businesses need, they can reinvest office real estate spend into other initiatives that benefit their workforce. This includes investments like employee development and engagement and even perks like childcare or travel stipends, onboarding retreats, or home office setups.
  • Reduced absenteeism and business continuity: Unscheduled absences cost U.S. businesses $300 billion every year. Employees equipped to work remotely are more adaptable and can continue work through unplanned interruptions that disrupt work—for example, an HVAC problem in the office building or inclement weather.
  • Lower voluntary turnover: Losing a valued employee can cost a business $10,000 to $30,000, and 95% of businesses say that remote work has reduced voluntary turnover.

Enabling Successful Remote Work Environments

With increased flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance for employees – and greater productivity and continuity for businesses – remote work benefits are numerous. Our current work from home situation is unique because they need to act swiftly at the onset of COVID-19 gave employers limited time to prepare employees for productive work in a home environment. Looking to the future, they have more time and ample options to consider that will enable successful remote work scenarios.

In the absence of a dedicated office environment, employers’ most important thing to do is to provide and deploy the tools and equipment that will enable employees to productively carry out their work – namely, a computer and a phone. They can provide these devices in a few different ways.

Company-provided approach:

One option is to supply employees with everything they need through a company-provided approach to supply computers, phones, and sometimes a dedicated internet connection.

However, even with enough time to procure and deploy equipment to every employee, this approach is expensive. Along with providing the actual devices, employers need to provide support for them. While expenses like a computer are one-time costs, phones are a mixture of a one-time device cost and recurring costs for data and service.

For every 500 company phones provided, the average company spends more than $3,000 per month in support. Considering that most employees already have a personal cell phone and an internet connection in their home, it might not make sense to supply these a second time.

BYOD programs:

A second approach is to enable a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program in which employers most commonly choose to pay a stipend to those who work remotely regularly. However, many employers are inconsistent in their approach to stipends. Sometimes amounts depend on when an employee was hired or what an employee negotiated when they were hired.

Additionally, when stipends are rolled into compensation packages, and employers don’t have the data to substantiate the amount paid, stipends are taxable. This means employees who receive a $100 taxable stipend each month; they only take home $70 of that stipend. Furthermore, remote work has costs beyond the mobile phone that should be considered when deciding what a stipend should cover. Frequently overlooked costs include high-speed internet and the space employees use in their homes as a dedicated workspace.

With employment laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which require employees to be reimbursed for any business-related expense, employers who follow a stipend approach put themselves in danger of failing to reimburse employees on-the-job expenses fully and can become entangled in costly lawsuits.

Localized reimbursement rates:

The third (and most accurate) approach is to reimburse using localized reimbursement rates, which factor in geographic costs. This is important — as phone, internet, and home office costs are not the same in every location — and different roles require different levels of availability. Some jobs require employees to be responsive outside of business hours, while others require more limited connectivity.

The average national cost for these expenses ranges between $90 – $126 per employee per month – so what is the right amount? By factoring in the amount of connectivity required and geographic costs, employers can ensure that their employees are fairly and accurately compensated for the costs they incur at the benefit of their employers.

More than 90 million people in the U.S. today have a job that could be performed at least partially from a remote location. As businesses look to the future, some have already announced that they will be transitioning to permanent remote work environments. Companies that empower employees with the tools and resources to be successful will find themselves at an advantage as the way we work continues to evolve.

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Knowing WFH Preferences Key to Employee Recruitment and Retention

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It’s no secret that there’s substantial competition in the tech industry for great talent. Understanding what motivates employees and what type of work environments they prefer can go a long way in attracting the best tech talent.

As a result of the pandemic impacting the future of work, major tech companies are taking note and implementing policies that allow for greater flexibility and are now bolstering their Work from Home options. For example, Twitter recently announced a new policy allowing employees to work from home forever. Facebook and Google also extended their remote opportunities for employees through the end of the year and summer 2021, respectively.

When organizations listen to and understand their workforce’s preferences about what type of work environment drives motivation, productivity and work satisfaction, it enables them to create a work culture in which employees are engaged, which is especially vital during times of disruption and fundamental change.

New trends in WFH preferences

According to a Gallup poll, 62% of employed Americans say they have worked from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Of those, three in five would prefer to continue working remotely even once current health restrictions are lifted.

In a recent global survey from ABBYY evaluates the ways that quarantine has changed the way employees work. Respondents (53%) said that going forward, they would prefer an arrangement that enables flexibility between working from home and working in the office. Many indicated they prefer either splitting their time 50/50 or working mostly from home with some days in the office.

Employees cite greater productivity working from home

The ABBYY survey found that 43% of respondents noted they were more productive working from home than in an office. Other studies have also found increased employee productivity in remote environments. A Stanford study found gains of up to 22% when it came to employee performance and productivity while working from home.

Reducing employee attrition rates

In the Stanford research, employees who worked from home noted improved work satisfaction, and their attrition rate halved. Employee motivation can play a key role in overall work satisfaction levels. In the ABBYY study, 35% of respondents said they felt more motivated working from home than in an office. Furthermore, almost half (44%) of respondents said that working from home has decreased their overall stress levels. Understanding what motivates employees helps organizations to effectively develop work cultures, policies, and structures that enhance employee retention rates and can also help attract the best talent.

Enhanced work-life balance

Work-life balance has always been a prime concern for employees. Even more so now as the lines between professional life and personal life become blurred with many employees balancing homeschooling their children and managing new household responsibilities all while learning to work in, what is for many, a new type of environment.

One of the most significant advantages for employees in being able to work from home is increased time with family and loved ones. In the ABBYY survey, half of the respondents (50%) noted that spending more time with their families was one of the most significant advantages of being able to work from home. The majority of respondents (56%) also noted that working from home has impacted their work-life balance positively.

Improving the employee experience

Work from Home Preferences Have Evolved as a Result of the Pandemic

The recent disruption in traditional office structures has led many organizations to re-evaluate many longstanding notions of standard work structures and consider new ways to enhance the employee experience and productivity.

Organizations that motivate their employees and create a desirable work environment empower employees to contribute at their highest level. In some organizations, business leaders have accomplished this by reducing or eliminating mundane, repetitive tasks from employee workflows by leveraging automation.

For example, many banks have recently accelerated the adoption of automation tools such as robotic process automation (RPA) and content intelligence to free their employees from paperwork-heavy and time-consuming tasks of data entry, sifting through paperwork, preparing loan applications and processing supporting documentation. This has freed a significant degree of employee time and employer resources.

Understanding what motivates employees can go a long way in attracting the best tech talent.

Recent research from IDC reveals that in the next two years, 18% of administrative tasks will be performed by software robots. Leveraging automation tools to automate repetitive, mundane tasks can go a long way in enabling employees to focus on creative, engaging and meaningful responsibilities.

In addition to freeing employees from tedious administrative responsibilities, automation tools can also help employees make better decisions. The IDC research also found that technology evaluating information will grow by 28% in two years.

Automation can also help provide employees with new capabilities. Equipping employees with new skills via easy-to-use low-code automation solutions strengthen their role as citizen developers and empowers them to assume a greater role in enterprise digital transformation initiatives.

 

Thriving in the new era of work

The overnight shift to WFH highlighted the many inefficiencies with internal workflows and business processes, and that most staff do not follow processes very often. To identify which processes would be the best fit for automation opportunities, and how the staff interacts with them, it’s valuable to have visibility into all operations across the organization.

However, trying to do so manually or with standalone systems is often insufficient. Innovative technology has emerged, such as process intelligence tools, that leverage an organization’s real-time data to provide a bird’s eye view into its ecosystem of processes. This enables leaders to enhance process efficiencies and choose the best processes for automation that free employees from repetitive tasks and enhance the employee experience.

The future of work is changing rapidly. Organizations that are agile, able to adapt quickly, and create engaging work environments that motivate their employees and attract the best talent will be well-positioned to lead in the new era of work.

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The Future of Work is Confusing

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The lines have been drawn and the debate is hotter than before. Remote! That is the future of work. We get to work on our time, be more productive, and spend quality time with our loved ones. Sure it’s hard to get a hold of co-workers, we miss out on those serendipitous lunch interactions, and team morale is low.

Wait, I changed my mind. Offices, yes offices — offices are the future of work!

Maybe the real answer is a mixture of both.

The last four months have been a whirlwind of digital transformation, remote work playbook building and chaos. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven “two years‘ worth of digital transformation in two months” according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

With the recent news of pushing social opening until Summer 2021, and most office work closed down through the end of 2020 — what will it all look like when we get “back to normal?â€� You be the judge – all remote, all office, hybrid of both?

The Future of Work is All Remote

Vindication, that is the easiest word to describe people who have been beating the drum about remote work over the last decade or more.

Lack of Commute.

No Chatty Co-workers.

No Pants?

Remote work is time efficient.

If you have ever lived in a big metropolitan area you know the pains of getting on a train, bus, boat, or car and traveling far distances to get to your office. Many people I worked with in the Bay Area would commute 2 hours every day. They would listen to books, podcasts, music to pass the time that could have been spent with their families, roommates, pets, even Netflix.

A recent report we put out of CloudApp usage March — April 2020 showed that people were using that morning commute time that was once unproductive, to work 2-3x more than normal. Office workers discovered new found freedom in their ability to get rid of wasteful time on the road in favor of starting work early.

Working remote can also allow space to have that 30 min haircut appointment over your lunch break, run to the dentist , pick up your kids from school, take your dog for a walk, and all kinds of other things that aren’t possible when you are in an office environment.

Remote work is cheaper.

This applies to businesses and to employees. With remote work you are able to work and live where you want. Gone are the expensive rents of a big city or the need to provide a large HQ to lure talent.

Remote work as the future provides a chance for a company to hire wherever it wants. That broadens the talent pool and removes the competitive factor of a few geographical areas.

Chris Herd, Founder and CEO of Firstbase had this to say on my podcast The DNA of An Experience. “With an office, you can hire the best person that you can afford within a 30 mile radius. The benefit of a remote setting is that you’re not in that position where you’re hiring in a 30 mile radius.”

Imagine the cash infusion for a little startup that doesn’t need to spend $10-20k a month on rent for its 50 person office.

The money saved with remote work for both sides of the coin are large enough to consider it a piece of the future of work.

Remote work is all digital.

In 2019, we at CloudApp did a survey of 1000 office workers and found that 50% of office workers list chatty co-workers or social media as their biggest time wasters. In a digital world, there are no co-workers stopping at your desk or office noise distracting you.

Meetings are also less frequent to help people avoid “Zoom fatigue�. In a digital remote world, you have more control over who you interact with and when.

Tools like Zoom for real time video, CloudApp for asynchronous video communication, Asana for task management, and Slack for informal collaboration can be a great foundation for your digital tool kit

The Future of Work is All Office Based

The familiar future we have all grown up with. Wake up, commute to the office, connect with co-workers, commute home, repeat. There is something to be said about a routine that our brains are already conditioned to accept.

Office based work is comfortable

The tech world is based on companies having a really great HQ. As I talked about in a previous post, Apple, Google, Facebook, Adobe, and others count on their offices being a shining star to lure talent. These offices provide a semblance of home with food, gyms, and even dry cleaners to help make your life outside of the bubble HQ a little easier.

The modern office is meant to be comfortable and provide chances for people to congregate and have unplanned interactions. Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe always called these “serendipitous interactions� where someone from product is meeting with someone from marketing on the basketball court or cafe unplanned.

The truth is we feel the office is comfortable because it hasn’t been new to us like remote work has this year.

Office based work is collaborative.

I’ve heard a common thread in my conversations with other leaders during this time. “I miss the brainstorming, the energy� There is something different when humans get together. Its hard to manufacturer that vibe over video conferencing

Many people would say that a lot of time is wasted in the office with conversations about Game of Thrones, sports highlights from the night before, or family vacations. However, maybe those conversations are what we all need to feel connected and to build trust in people that help us provide for ourselves and families.

The Future of Work is a Hybrid

The future of work is going to be a hybrid. 2020 will be a catalyst for both office workers and businesses to realize that partial remote work isn’t evil. It can be nice to have an unstructured day at home once or twice a week. Over the past few weeks I have been testing out this model (albeit in an empty office). Here is what I have learned

It is nice to separate work from home.

I’ve always worked from home. Last minute edits on a board deck late at night, early morning email responses. However, the last 4 months have been non stop work at home with a desk in my bedroom. I’m sure many other people are in similar situations. Maybe a small apartment, a space with roommates, or like me a house full of kids.

Since March I have definitely found my mind is more frequently cluttered with work thoughts that I used to be able to shake away when I was at home. My computer randomly turns on in the middle of the night and illuminates me awake, or I’ll forget to silence notifications and will hear that Slack noise pop through when I am playing with my kids.

Whatever it is, having my office 100 percent home based has been a challenge for me mentally.

My wife suggested a few weeks ago to go into our office a couple of times a week. I followed her advice and found it to be super quiet without anyone here, but also energizing and productive.

It was nice to have some separation.

Human connection is good.

We aren’t meant to connect one hundred percent over video. Initially there was an abundance of company led lunches, games, and other things over video. I would expect that has moved more toward the norm of video all being focused around business means.

That human connection drives us to work for something greater, to feel that the sum is greater than its parts.

The future of work will bring a lot of remote workers. People who found that the big city wasn’t working anymore and they needed a change. In this hybrid model, businesses will need to find budget and resources to support getting everyone together once a quarter, even once a month if teams are close enough.

The human connection will drive mental and job satisfaction. It is a key piece of the future of work.

The Future of Work is confusing — but what isn’t?

Its hard to really grasp what the future holds at the moment. We are all in the middle of developing and bracing ourselves for all scenarios. If there is anything good to come out of this year, its that we have all learned different ways to work that we didn’t know were previously possible.

Its obvious, we all use technology more.

We all know the effort it takes to connect digitally.

We all know what we took for granted in an office setting.

The future of work is definitely confusing, but at least after this year the possibilities are more endless than ever before.

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