Over the next 12 months, most corporate businesses predict only a portion of their workforce will return to their physical offices. With the move to Alert Level 2, a big focus will be on ensuring that employees can work securely, whether at home or anywhere.

Employees need to be empowered to work flexibly, no matter what the circumstance. The ‘new normal’ throws traditional working hours out the door. Yes, it has meant receiving the unexpected or urgent conference call just when you’re trying to juggle your children’s schoolwork or cleaning a mess in the kitchen (and we’ve all experienced this recently). But the upside to this new life is that it has become normal to log in from your device while doing things like waiting for your car to be serviced – what an exciting new generation of multitaskers we have all become.

The new way of working allows both public and private sector organisations to focus on the blockers and gaps that prevent their company from functioning in a remote-first way. Due to a lack of trust, only 56 per cent of managers let their employees work remotely – even when policy allows it. We need to work to a high trust, low compliance model as opposed to low trust, high compliance.

The remote-first model. Why should we care about the implications it may have on our workforce?

For management, this establishes a whole new set of expectations around how a successful team can function without physically sitting at their desks, including how many hours they work and even how success is defined. In order to build trust in your remote team, a focus on productivity and outcome-based KPIs (key performance indicators) should be applied.

There is also an implication for human resources (HR) and people teams. You’ve given your employees the freedom to work remotely but what about the opportunities it brings for those now seeking jobs internationally? It’s no longer about sourcing the best person for the job who can physically make it to the office; it is about sourcing the best talent from anywhere. In the new digitally connected world, will we see companies source talent from places such as the US and the UK? In which case, will we start to see an increase in contract-based work? Will employers cope with this new layer of complexity or sink back to the traditional ways of employing those who are within driving distance of the office?

With the new opportunities that working from home has given us, perhaps we will start to see a decrease in large office spaces and a focus on modernising our meeting rooms with the latest tech. This means that wherever you are logging in from, you can still collaborate seamlessly and, most importantly, have an equal opportunity to access content and resources to help decision-making. Finally, a remote workforce should be a secure workforce. With many employees connecting via home networks, it is important that business leaders consider the protection of their front-line staff.

Related industries
Public sector
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Advisory & consulting