The changing nature of work and the growing trend towards a remote-first model means it’s important for companies to optimize the processes involved to gain maximum benefit. I’ve seen first-hand, for instance, how impactful a solid globalized remote operating strategy can be for a business looking to grow and expand. This is especially true given our collective experiences of the past 18 months, where companies the world over have proven time and again that they can thrive in remote environments.
Without doubt, many organizations that had little or no experience of flexible working culture before lockdown have barely missed a beat, despite the inevitable challenges. This has resulted in a widespread shift in mentality from employers and their workers alike, and the idea that full time, office-based work is the only way to succeed has been overtaken by events. Today, remote and hybrid working arrangements are quickly becoming a minimum standard in the jobs market, with employees putting it high on their list of requirements when considering new opportunities.
Talent without frontiers
This shared emphasis on flexibility also means that companies are now more focused than ever on hiring the best talent, no matter where each person is based around the world. This is particularly significant given the widespread and chronic talent shortages seen across many industries. The ability of US companies to source people from EMEA, APAC or Latin America, for instance, not only helps close resource gaps but for international companies, brings them closer to their customers. It’s an approach that can be particularly useful for teams focused on delivering localized customer, operational and financial support.
In developing a remote-first business model, there are some key issues to consider. For instance, setting out clear policies for employees to follow will help ensure the process works equally for everyone involved. Start by developing a written handbook which sets out precise guidance. For example, what are the rules for off-hours communication and how does the employee draw a line between work and personal time? What about employees who want to move locations – even to another country – and continue to work remotely? This and many other questions can be answered by studying the approach taken by others, learning from their experiences and setting out the approach that works for your organization.
Every remote-first culture should also prioritize mental health. It’s clear that some people struggle with feeling disconnected because of the lack of in-person social contact remote working can bring. Employers should be focused on the well-being of their teams and try to accommodate the remote/hybrid working preferences for each person wherever practical.
Strong communication channels are also key. Think of it this way: if we accept that a good ratio of employees to managers is 7-1, it’s important that these leaders walk the talk of being open and available to their teams, making sure they feel comfortable if they want to come to you with an issue.
As far as physical meetings, it’s likely that before long most people will be able to get back to having in-person interaction again. And as health and safety allows, it will also be important to encourage teams to reignite the social side of working together. This is especially significant for people who particularly miss this as part of their working life and see it as a part of a well-rounded working environment. But, as with many of these considerations, giving employees flexibility and choice is now more important than ever.
The bottom line is remote work is here to stay. Forward thinking, adaptable employers will embrace a remote-first policy that incorporates a hybrid schedule so people can make the culture work for them. Those that do will be ideally placed to succeed in an increasingly globalized economy where a flexible culture is becoming increasingly important to employers and individuals alike.