Closing 2021: How Should We Design the Future of Remote Work?

28 December 2021

Closing 2021: How Should We Design the Future of Remote Work?

Remote work has been here for months, and for some companies, even years. Although several companies have implemented remote work for years, the pandemic certainly was a catalyst to the emerging phenomenon. The Economist notes that in spring 2020, more than half (60%) of American employees worked from home. Regardless of whether we recover from the pandemic or not, remote work will stay for good starting from 2022, according to an expert from Gartner interviewed by APM digest. 


The prediction above should serve as a heads-up for business managers, who need to plan ahead for the future of remote work. Insights from employees’ thoughts and opinions can be a great starting point for remote work policy that business executives wish to establish. Based on their research, McKinsey has pointed out several notable things that employees hope for in the future, namely better work-life balance (51%), better flexibility (49%), positive implications for compensation (49%), and increased focus on employee well-being (47%).


From the above-mentioned insights, here are several tips and best practices that business owners can consider when designing the future of remote work in their companies: 


  1. Keep Everyone in the Loop

Business managers may have great visions and exciting plans for their company’s working culture in the future. However, communication remains a problem. McKinsey finds that most employees (40%) haven’t heard enough about these visions. There’s a lack of communication regarding how employees should work remotely, what employers expect, and which approaches should be taken. Even if these aspects are communicated, the message remains unclear for 28% of employees.


Such unclear communication has resulted in anxiety among employees, which is an issue that is often overlooked. Lowering the quality of productivity, job satisfaction, and teamwork, anxiety costs $1 trillion annually. Imagine the cost that could be saved if only communication regarding remote working is made clearer. Keeping everyone in the loop about business direction, policy, and company expectations is simply beneficial for a company. In fact, workers who feel involved in the loop are reportedly five times more productive.


  1. Embrace the Hybrid Model

As we recover from the pandemic, there’s growing enthusiasm about the possibility of going back to offices. Companies in many parts of the world have returned their employees to on-site premises ever since the number of Covid-19 daily cases in their countries declined. Given that some companies have paid an annual fee for renting a space, the decision on returning workers to offices is understandable. However, it may cost a company its best talents. Research found that 30% of workers will find a career elsewhere if they are required to fully work on-site.


To reconcile the tension between WFH and WFO, businesses should consider embracing the hybrid model instead. According to McKinsey, 52% of employees actually prefer that their companies implement this hybrid model where they can flexibly work on site and work remotely on some days. As mentioned above, many employees hope for more flexibility in the future of remote working, and the hybrid model exactly comes with flexibility. McKinsey further suggests that hybrid working can optimize talents, suppress costs, and boost performance.


  1. Design A Policy that Solves Issues with Remote Working 

Those who have been working remotely know all too well that the problem with this model is that, aside from the persistent communication issues, the working hour is unclear. It’s common for meetings to take place in odd hours. Business managers should consider this aspect when designing the plans for their working culture. In fact, more than one-third of McKinsey’s respondents state that having clear hours is among the top five policies that they would like their employers to focus on.

Aside from the policy on working hours, business managers can also focus on policies on technological incorporation, especially the ones which facilitate communication between on-site employees and remote workers. As employees often spend their own money to set up their homes to become offices, many workers also would like to find a clear policy on remote work office setups reimbursements. In addition, there should be policies on collaboration tools and how employees will need to be trained to use these tools.


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