The conversation about the “new normal” of remote and hybrid work continues to leave companies struggling with decisions regarding where and how their teams will conduct their work. With continued cultural changes on the horizon, now is the time for leaders to adapt to this new reality and learn to thrive in the future of work. We’ve compiled a list of rules for success which will support business leaders in excelling at the future of work.
In early 2020, the trajectory of the world was set on a new course. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw many aspects of our life change — especially how and when we work. The balance between work-life shifted from simply being the split between how much time we spent at the office vs at home to a much more holistic conversation about the environments and conditions that we want and need in order to do our best work. Already, employees are leaving their old jobs for roles with greater flexibility and remote possibilities. With more change on the horizon, now is the time for leaders to adapt to this new reality and learn to thrive in the future of work.
Through our work helping companies gain insight about and create new solutions for modern ways of working, we’ve compiled a list of rules to help you successfully adapt to the future of work.
The rules for success
Make sure your team has clear tasks and expectations/job roles
While those working remotely can be very productive, there is an increased risk of procrastination when work stalls and the employee doesn’t know what next step to take. In an office setting, it’s very easy to go to colleagues and managers for support and help when getting stuck, meaning small snags are resolved quickly. In a remote environment, reaching out for guidance is a larger task, and employees are more likely to try and figure things out in isolation. And while a home environment can be comfortable, it can also be full of distractions that take someone away from their work. Setting clear expectations, tasks, and deadlines help keep people accountable and support them to finish their tasks on time. When people know what they’re expected to deliver and when, they’re able to plan their work better.
Following up has to be planned – Agile ways of working
In addition to clarity about what work needs to be done and when, it’s also important to set regular follow-ups within teams. Working in clearly defined sprints is one way to set a good delivery rhythm and make sure any problems are identified and resolved as soon as possible to avoid delays. Having regular follow-ups also helps to foster an environment where workers feel comfortable sharing their progress and asking for support when needed.
Vertical works with many remote teams to coordinate their sprints and run scrum meetings. We’ve seen first-hand how such practices bring clarity and accountability to weekly tasks.
Hybrid doesn’t have to mean unstructured work – fixed remote days
Hybrid work (where the week is split between days at the office and remote) is seeing a very substantial increase in popularity as employers look at reestablishing in-person presences after the pandemic-mandated time apart. However, if your company relies heavily on teamwork and collaboration, not being able to anticipate if meetings or workshops will take place remotely or online may incur work challenges and delays. To remedy this inconsistency, you may consider establishing dedicated remote days (or dedicated office days) so team members can rely on a schedule for themselves and team members.
Make in-person time significant
When it comes to planning work and whether or not to do it in-person or remotely, ensure you’re giving enough thought to why some tasks are better to do in person. Creative and collaborative work which require much thought and discussion are more suited for doing in the office, as ideas are more likely to bounce in person than online. However, there are times when employees just need to put their heads down and independently focus on a specific task, which are prime times to work remotely. Talk with your team and establish guidelines for remote vs in-person tasks, to ensure that time spent together is best utilised.
Understand where your company culture resides
One popular argument against remote work is that company culture suffers when people don’t have a common meeting place, such as an office. But question if the mere existence of an office really enforces a desired culture. Your workspace, be it your home, an office, or a co-working space, should have considered elements which support your work and reflect the values of your company. If remote work is a tool for increased wellbeing, so should be your office itself. Examples of such a manifestation of company culture could be dedicated spaces and tools for increased creative teamwork. If your employees are communicating that the office environment is detracting from employee wellbeing, find out why and fix it. By creating an office environment where employees want to work, your company values and culture are present in a positive and concrete way.
Don’t neglect those who can’t work remotely
Remote or even hybrid work isn’t possible for everyone. That doesn’t mean those whose jobs require them to work at a specific location should be excluded from conversations regarding employee wellbeing and ways of working. Such workers, whose roles have them serving customers or managing other processes, contribute greatly to the success of an organisation. Their work could also benefit from well-designed and throughout ways of working such as Agile, and a greater emphasis on supporting efficient and healthy working practices.
While the future of how we will work is still being determined, it is clear that it’s vastly different to the norms of the past. How a company adapts to these changes will determine how attractive of an employer they will be to the current and next generation of employees, and how productive remote and hybrid teams can be. If your company is looking to explore how your employees want to and can work in the future, reach out to us and let’s talk.