March 2020 heralded the start of a seismic shift in the workplace. Global lockdown conditions spurred an acceleration in digital transformation efforts to transition business operations into cloud-enabled environments. It accelerated the changing dynamic between the way consumers engage with business and government and resulted in a dramatic evolution of the modern application.
Even though having a distributed workforce is hardly a new concept, the scale and rate at which it needed to be embraced caught many decision-makers off guard. Certainly, there were positive things to come from this. Aspects such as improved w productivity, quieter working environments, and even employees taking fewer sick days have all contributed to a greater awareness of the benefits of this new dynamic.
But if this ‘new’ way of working is to be sustainable, management styles must change with companies needing to move away from monitoring inputs to focusing on outputs. This requires an environment built on mutual trust. A VMware survey conducted in June and July last year examined how companies should consider finding the right balance between remote work and face-to-face interaction.
Beyond being distributed
Central to this theme is rethinking what distributed work means and how the employee experience is changing in relation to this. We know how physical workspace must evolve given the need for social distancing. Related to this is how many people will be required to come back to the office and how many will remain working remotely, or whether they will be alternating with one another.
From a cultural perspective, companies must identify new ways of collaborating, and of interacting with each other. More importantly, they must identify more innovative ways of keeping teams engaged, motivated, and energised. The technology becomes a vital enabler in this regard. It ties the physical and virtual together and help to create a more effective digital workspace.
The reality is that a third of respondents in the VMware survey believe IT to be a barrier to remote working. This must be overcome as must as traditional management styles need to change.
Furthermore, our survey showed that 76% of respondents feel their personal connections with colleagues have improved during this time, 65% feel more empowered to speak up in video conference meetings, and 69% say their stress levels have improved. Employee moral improved by 30% and productivity by 33%.
And yet, despite this, leadership and management are not necessarily aligned with the requirements of an anywhere workplace. More than a third (37%) worry their teams will not stay on task when working remotely and 59% feel more pressure to be online outside of normal working hours.
To overcome this, line of sight management really should be a thing of the past. As mentioned, productivity must be measured on the deliverables and not in terms of time spent at the office or in front of a screen. Maintaining a work/life balance becomes even more critical now that the office is at home. So, while policies will be set at the boardroom level to help drive the changes required, they must be executed at a management level where those individuals will be seen to lead from the front. The future of work is here. The workplace must be reimagined and extended to create a culture rooted in innovation, flexibility, and choice.