Due to generational differences in the workforce, and the COVID-19 pandemic, remote and hybrid work has rapidly transitioned from a privilege to an expectation. Long gone are the days where the norm is everyone comes to the same office, to sit at the same desk, five days a week.
High Alpha’s Director of Talent Hope Williams, Engineered Innovation Group’s VP of Growth and Finance Logan Pund, and Insperity’s Human Resource Process Manager Beth Saffioti, came together in Austin, TX to discuss their perspectives on key considerations for businesses navigating this evolving landscape. Below are our key takeaways.
A One-Size-Fits-All Strategy Is Obsolete
To begin the conversation, all the panelists told each business they must evaluate whether remote or hybrid work aligns with their model and leadership style. Companies often become reactive to the discussions around remote and hybrid work and should take time to thoughtfully evaluate.
If you are a leader that wants to see the people in their seats and believes the only time they're working is when they're in your office, it's never going to work if you have a fully remote team. You need to understand your leadership style, and recruit people that fit that style.
Logan Pund, VP of Growth and Finance
The panel also stressed the importance of alignment around remote and hybrid work, particularly when it comes to communication methods and expectations.
Be Careful Walking the DEI Tightrope
It’s no question remote and hybrid work can reduce barriers for diverse talent inside an organization. However, the leadership team must walk the tight-rope as they employ remote or hybrid individuals.
Remote and hybrid work can lead to increased diversity in an organization, but companies need to tread carefully. If you are the only remote employee and it seems like there are different expectations and you’re out of the loop, it can lead to exclusion.
Hope Williams, Director of Talent
To promote belonging, managers cannot lend themselves to proximity bias. It’s crucial they do not set different rules for offsite vs. onsite employees. Everyone–regardless of their work location–should receive clear communication and consistent treatment.
Create an Exclusive Membership Club
Working with different organizations, the panel outlined how remote teams are often seen as a cost savings strategy. No office space = more money kept in the bank.
However, companies must set up teams for success even without an office space, such as providing new tools, allocating budget for offsites and travel, and auditing pay bands. If implemented strategically, those savings should be an investment in employee satisfaction and productivity.
Logan pointed to a study published in Forbes which indicates that companies with “fully flexible” policies–meaning employees can choose when or whether they come to the office, or are fully remote–experience a four times increase in productivity versus companies who implement a hybrid or in-person strategy.
Hope also mentioned forward thinking leadership teams think of their office space like an exclusive membership club. “Employees don’t want to be told ‘I need you here from 8am to 5pm in this chair.’ It should be a place people want to come to.”
Compliance Is Your Friend (and Foe)
Inevitably, compliance emerged as a key point in the discussion. For companies expanding their remote workforce, a proactive understanding of domestic and international compliance requirements, the financial implications, and a clear communication strategy is imperative. Companies should identify key partners, like Insperity, to help them navigate this if they do not have full-time team members who can manage it.
However, the discussion underscored that a company's risk tolerance plays a role. Some startups may adopt a "wait until trouble arises'' approach and may not understand the full risks of their decisions. Understanding these risks associated with remote work and multi-state employment is paramount for informed decision-making.
Consistent Performance Management Is Key
Moreover, the challenge of managing employee performance in a remote setup is important. Leaders must avoid attributing performance issues solely to remote work. Consistency in performance management, along with prompt feedback, is crucial to maintain productivity and address issues effectively.
With great challenge, comes great opportunity. Implementing a remote or hybrid work strategy demands a proactive and intentional approach, but there can be many benefits if implemented strategically.