COVID-19 brought about unprecedented human trials, followed by a year of global business challenges and impending recessions. Organizations, including Tech Pacific, rose to the occasion by acting swiftly to safeguard both employees and client interests; amidst prolonged lockdowns and novel safety regulations that altered standard operations. Exactly a year after, as employers around the world experiment with bringing teams back into offices, there is the evident challenge of reinstating former routines; primarily due to employee mindsets and safety. One should perceive the last year as a large-scale global experiment in order to deeply understand the role of offices, and reimagine how work is done.
In order to mitigate disruptions instigated by lockdowns, organizations resorted to digital collaborations such as videoconferencing; with results that exceeded expectations. According to research, nearly 50% of employees have confirmed higher productivity rates while 28% have stated they are as productive as they have been while in office. Increased flexibility and reduced commute time allowed better work life balance for employees, while companies accessed pools of talent beyond geographic restraints amidst reduced real estate costs. The natural question remains, is this due to the mere assumption of a temporary situation?
There has been a positive shift in outlook when viewing remote working, and due consideration must be given to past processes that yielded these results. Businesses are able to experience this productivity as a result of social capital built up over countless coffees, boardroom meetings and other social engagements that took place prior to the crisis. One cannot ignore relationships built over spontaneous moments of physical interaction and talent development through mentorship.
All angles must be evaluated in order to arrive at the best possible way forward, and this would differ from organization to organization. Reconstructing how work is done would ensure that everything that could be done remotely will make a permanent shift; this requires exceptional change-management skills and constant monitoring. Categorizing staff according to working standards would be a sound start for resource reallocation. Fully remote employees would bring about a net positive value creation while hybrid remote employees bring neutral outcome. There would also be employees that should ideally be on site, yet if absolutely necessary can work remotely, thereby resulting in a net negative outcome; they would be hybrid and remote by exception. On-site employees are those who are completely unable to work remotely, i.e. factory floor staff. If classified consequently, businesses will be able to look at vast cost reductions in terms of real estate, transport and Covid-19 associated safety measures, and proceed to allocate significantly lower investments in technology; enabling remote working. If such changes are made with strong alignment to company culture, a resized footprint could be greatly advantageous to businesses.
Organizations worldwide could use this moment to dismiss suboptimal old habits and systems, and make a well-planned return to office. Offering flexible weekly work hours that include days for remote work, could uplift the peak work-life balance gained over the past year. Thereby creating a better experience for talent; increasing productivity with the return to office, rather than the reverse. Breaking away from the inertia of the past focusing on reinvention to achieve business objectives in a safer environment with happier employees.