NextMapping Future of Work Blog

Cheryl Cran

Welcome to the Future of Work blog – this is where you will find posts on all things related to the future of work.

We have guest bloggers that include CIO’s, Behavioral Scientists, CEO’s, Data Scientists including posts by our founder Cheryl Cran.

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The Rise of Remote Work in 2020 – How To Make it Successful In Your Company

March 16, 2020

As I write this we are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. We are in the rise of remote work in 2020.

Schools are closed, restaurants are closing or have altered services to take out only, retailers such as Apple have closed stores and every industry is impacted by this major disruption.

5 years ago our research indicated that by the year 2020 50% of workers would be working remotely. While that statistic had not yet born out, as of now 52% of workers in some industries are now working remotely due to Covid-19.

Many industries have had remote work on the radar as leaders have known that having a remote work plan increases both the ability to attract workers and to keep them.

However many industries had not made moves toward remote work as they could not see the logistics of making it work. Now that we have a global disruption remote work has been forced upon businesses as an urgent need.

The number of people working from home increased exponentially this week. Alphabet recommended that all of its employees in North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East work from home until April 10. Amazon has told all employees globally who are able to work from home to do so until the end of March. Other tech companies, including Twitter, Microsoft, and Apple, have asked employees to work from home, as have dozens of other small companies.

If your company did not have a remote work plan it’s not too late to create a plan that can work short term and prepare for a longer-term plan. The rise of remote work requires companies to create a successful plan.

Firstly let’s clarify that there are workers who have been working remotely for over a decade. Remote work is not the same as telecommuting.

Remote work is work that is done from a home office or location away from the head office of a company. Also, not everyone is suited to do remote work. The skills needed to be an effective remote worker include being a self-starter, excellent time management skills, ability to work with virtual teams and ability to get results without being supervised.

There will be some workers who will do very well working remotely and there will be others who struggle. The crisis itself is stressful and this can impact productivity for all workers.

Specifically for remote workers the global crisis stress can impact the ability to self manage, the ability to reach out to team members and the ability to stay focused on the big picture while staying motivated.

With the rise of remote work in 2020 here’s how to make it successful.

First, let’s look at through the company lens:

  1. Accept the reality that remote work is a fact and that even once the coronavirus crisis is over there will be a new normal for companies. Whether you have offered remote work before or are new to the concept tackle it as a ‘change’ that requires a plan.
  2. Review the work that needs to be done and how it can be done remotely. Challenge assumptions and ask: “Does the work really need to be done in the office?”
  3. One of the big challenges to remote work has been companies lacking the technology tools OR having the safest security protocols in place. Leverage secure tools such as Zoom, Slack, IM, Microsoft Teams, Webex, and other technologies that allow for real-time communication between workers as well as tools to collaborate in real-time.
  4. Provide training and support to those new to remote work. Allow them to practice using the technology tools and walk through how to use video/audio/screen share/adding people to meetings and more. Google offers free tools and training on how to leverage remote work tools.
  5. Set up communication guidelines for all remote workers (e.g., all contact information in one place, primary communication channels clarified — email, IM, Slack, etc.); how employees are expected to respond to customers; and how and when teams will coordinate and meet.
  6. Set up new ways to measure performance such as data tracking of results. This can be measured using AI or data analytics through the use of programs such as Salesforce. Establish what success looks like for a remote worker (e.g. number of client calls per day, number of projects completed, number of sales etc.)
  7. Leaders need to ensure the constant connection with remote workers – this means having face to face conversations via technology once or twice a week. Checking in via text, IM and email to offer support or guidance. Keep remote teams motivated by recognizing challenges while rewarding the efforts of the teams.
  8. See this current period of time as a test period for a future that will have more remote work. Use our PREDICT model to strategically plan out the future of remote work in your company.

In our next blog post, I will share strategies for those who are remote workers on how to stay motivated, engaged and productive. If we can help you and your company with your remote work plan please email us michelle@nextmapping.com.