Remote work has become commonplace for staff who were formerly known as office workers. While many employees have become accustomed to this way of working over the last two years, some employers have not.
To find out the difficulties facing employers as they juggle hybrid, remote, and office working, Insightful, a leading workforce analytics and productivity software company, has investigated employer sentiment toward the future of work.
The report revealed a shocking reality for businesses that are still adapting to new methodologies of work.
Companies aren’t ready for remote work
Despite the pandemic pushing many to work from home, 64% of company leaders believe they don’t have the right tools to manage remote employees’ productivity.
This figure is particularly concerning when respondents saw a 383% increase in the adoption of remote and hybrid work.
In terms of identifying additional issues with remote and hybrid work, 21% of company leaders reported that collaboration and communication are the biggest challenges when working remotely.
Although there are clear barriers facing remote and hybrid work, most businesses are open to the continuation of these policies. 72% of company leaders will allow remote work at least some of the time, and 65% of company leaders will allow their employees to permanently work remotely or hybrid.
Discussing these findings, Insightful CEO Ivan Petrovic said: “This research strongly suggests that remote and hybrid work are here to stay, and that they will become the prevailing work models of the future.”
Nonetheless, “the research also shows there are ongoing challenges for company leaders when managing remotely”.
“Despite the two-year remote work experiment brought on by COVID-19, many leaders still don’t feel fully equipped to manage their team when they work away from the office.
“As remote work is still at a nascent stage, we anticipate that over time the challenges expressed by company leaders today will ease through the continued evolution of remote infrastructure and operating mindsets.”
How to adapt working strategies
With a gap in remote infrastructure, some leaders may be tempted to enforce a full-time return to the office as they attempt to ramp up productivity. However, this runs the risk of employee attrition.
The ‘Great Resignation‘ has shown that millions of employees are happy to re-evaluate their position if it does not work for them. As a result, employers should be cautious before overhauling hybrid, flexible or remote work.
The question is then how to make remote work effective for managers.
Start by addressing one of the key issues in the study; communication. Most organizations will be aware that there are plenty of synchronous communication platforms, but this interaction needs to go further.
Employees should have allocated time to speak to their managers whether that is virtual or face-to-face. These conversations can help solve the larger issue of productivity management.
Discussing the importance of manager interaction in the hybrid working world, Stephen Duncan, executive vice president EMEA at United Minds, told UNLEASH in a recent interview: “This is where the role of managers is really important, we need to enable managers and equip managers to manage people during hybrid working, and it’s something that we need to be very intentional about because this is here to stay. “
Managers who are communicating with their team can better understand their workflows and report this back to stakeholders. Doing this allows them to set targets that can lead to more productivity wherever an employee is based.
Hearing and investing
Once feedback loops are open, and there is an understanding of what managers and employees need to thrive, you can begin looking at additional remote management solutions.
Solutions can range from task management tools like Asana, monday.com and Trello can help managers see how projects are developing.
If working culture is difficult to navigate, there have been calls to include games and help build teamwork can also be utilized to gamify the skills that make productive teams.
Angela Ashenden, principal analyst of workplace transformation at CCS Insight, told UNLEASH that the current working climate offers a “big opportunity for suppliers of cloud services and other IT providers to add real value by helping companies navigate the turbulence of a new era of hybrid work.”
With this in mind, it is worth looking at what can help your specific problems and begin a road to successful remote management.
There are plenty of ways to engage and motivate the remote workforce, but the first step is understanding what employees need so that you can make worthwhile investments.