The world of work has been profoundly disrupted over the past few years. Remote and hybrid work, once considered unconventional setups, are becoming the norm. But while the shift to remote work may be inevitable, it’s not without its challenges. From a management perspective, remote work demands a new approach, one that is intentional, well-thought-out, and quite different from the conventional office setup.
The True Nature of Remote Work
Most companies transitioning to remote work from an office-centric model make one common, potentially damaging mistake: they treat remote work as it’s the same as working from the office, but from home or a different space. This is a misstep. Common office practices don’t translate well into a remote or digital-first environment. We often see companies spending most of their day in synchronous meetings or expecting real-time responses at all times, creating an environment that is ripe for burnout.
Remote work demands a wholly different setup that requires unique leadership and management skills, specialized tools, distinct systems, and, most importantly, a different mindset. This transition must be well thought out and well implemented to avoid major setbacks, such as what happened with Yahoo during Marissa Meyers’ time, well before the pandemic.
The Advantages of a Distributed Workforce
Remote work is not all about challenges. In fact, the benefits are manifold for companies.
- Unlimited Talent Pool: The biggest advantage of a distributed workforce is that it opens the door to a global talent pool. With this comes a diverse workforce, a powerful asset in today’s increasingly globalized world.
- Reduced Overheads: A company that transitions to remote work can significantly cut down on overhead costs such as office expenses. It’s worth reinvesting these savings into building a robust, well-equipped remote team.
- Higher Retention: A well-executed remote work policy can lead to higher retention rates. Consider Alex who leads our Talent & Culture team. She had to move countries several times during the last few years due to personal or family reasons. Instead of losing her and needing to hire and train someone new each time, we could simply continue working together, to everyone’s delight. Post-pandemic, many employees have demonstrated they would prefer to quit than return to the office. Even top companies like Apple have experienced this, which highlights the importance of flexible work policies in employee retention.
As remote or hybrid work become more widely accepted options, it’s crucial that organizations approach it with a strategic mindset, understanding the differences between an emergency work-from-home setup during the pandemic and an intentional, well-designed remote-first setup.
This blog post is adapted from an interview Lavinia Iosub, Managing Partner at Livit & Founder of Remote Skills Academy, with GroWrk. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll delve into the impact of remote work on societal problems, the economy, and the environment, and explore the concept of digital nomadism.