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Remote Work: Temporary Shift or New Reality?

We’ve talked about remote work before. Helped you recognize the need to transition to a work-from-home model amid the pandemic and how to do it seamlessly. We’ve also shared how to work together with your team, even when you’re not together.

But as time forges on and the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel seems dull, it’s time to shift our focus from “this is temporary” to “this is our new reality.”

It’s time to examine our long-held beliefs about remote work and think critically both about its opportunities (and potential pitfalls). Because let’s face it, an aspect of remote work is here to stay — whether it impacts you directly or indirectly. And business survival is at stake.

As the thinking on remote work shifts from temporary to long-term, here are a few thought starters we’re mulling over right now (in no particular order) should it be helpful to you.

1. Surprise, your team may prove to be more productive from home.

Studies are showing an overwhelming increase in productivity by remote workers. One citing a 47% increase. Fair to say that once the pandemic subsides, going back to the good ol’ days at a centralized office will be tempting. However, the data is showing that employees work longer hours and get more done by working from home. Stay flexible and think about permanently offering remote work to those who desire it. Maybe your new workforce is a hybrid of in-office staff and remoters.

2. Abandoning your lease won’t necessarily save you money if you invest it in your team (as you should)

Office spaces are expensive and you may think that downsizing (or eliminating your space) may free up more money. But, eliminating a lease isn’t the solution to all your money woes once you consider the investment you’ll need to rightfully make to support your WFH team. After all, your team still needs the tools to work from home (wi-fi, computer equipment, office supplies). And you should flip the bill! Plus, there will be times when you must get back together in-person. That means additional budget for travel, food, team bonding activities, and maybe a rented venue.

3. Managing from a distance will 100% require more intentionality

No doubt about it, managing in this new normal requires more intention and attention. Some of your managers may be naturally good at engaging teams, giving productive feedback or shaping careers–other managers, not so much. That doesn’t mean that all is lost. Manager training (and employee training too) is a great way to level the playing field and to sharpen everyone’s skills together. This is all part of the hyper intentionality that’s needed to thrive long term.

4. Even with high unemployment, there will still be recruiting challenges to overcome

For the first time in a long time, the supply for excellent talent in Hawaii greatly exceeds the demand for jobs. But that doesn’t mean finding the right employees will be easy. With more remote work options, we expect employers to become judged more by company culture and WFH policies and aptitude. That means your remote work culture and policies will be highly considered, perhaps just as much as your pay and benefits package.

5. We must figure out how to integrate newer team members into remote (or hybrid) teams

A new hire’s onboarding experience will become more critical than ever before. How do you share your company’s vision and values with new hires from a distance? And so much so that it impacts their behavior? How should they “meet” and navigate your company’s stakeholders? How can you substitute the deep learning that occurs in in-person settings with…stronger process documentation? Clearer communication? Defined expectations? This is something that all businesses will need to figure out through trial and error–and find an approach and experience that uniquely works for them.

At ProService, all new hires receive a welcome box mailed to their doorstep filled with fun branded swag and most importantly, our “Little Blue Book” — a pocket-sized guide that outlines our guiding principle and serves as a reminder of what we stand for and can do together.

6. Now is the time to think long-term

Even though a vaccine may be near, it doesn't necessarily mean that people will be lining up to receive it. A good chunk of the public is hesitant. Perhaps some of your employees will be too. This is why we must come to grips that remote work is here to stay awhile longer.

In conclusion…

While there is no one size fits all for this work model, there are things we can all do. To our best abilities, we can planfully leverage the tangible benefits of remote work where possible, and do our best to anticipate and minimize any risks with intention.

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