Gig-workers and job seekers have long been fascinated by the concept of remote work because of the flexibility and the autonomy it brings with it. They were drawn by the allure of choosing to work on their own terms like a moth to a flame. The options were aplenty – work as an FTE or as a contractor, from home, a cafe, or while globetrotting.
Come pandemic, the WFH model was a welcome change. As more and more professionals get vaccinated, WFH is becoming the “Work From Anywhere” or the WFX model. Every day, companies are adopting hybrid or remote models of work and the debate about whether or not working from home is truly beneficial continues.
While WFX has its own challenges like measuring output, building trust, dealing with diverse employees separated by time zones, overcoming distractions, and even unplugging after work, leaders are addressing the shifting landscape of industries. Upgraded workplace policies have been implemented to cater to these challenges. For example, Automaticc’s remote work policy states that every employee should be assigned a mentor in the same time zone. One clear indication of the effectiveness of some of these newer policies, is a report by Google Analytics Survey, claiming 80% of the employees still want to work from home at least some time of the week. Seeing the current scenario and the response of employees, employers, I think the WFX model will thrive.
Today, access to talent is no longer constrained by geography, thereby giving recruiters the opportunity to explore the candidacy of diverse candidates. From sourcing and assessment to interviews, HR can evaluate candidates in a fully virtual environment. After going remote, Infosys started using an internal app named LaunchPad, which helps them onboard employees virtually. New employees are sent identity cards directly on their smartphones and are given the option of choosing between working from home or the office. Moreover, companies are no longer restricted to hiring only from tier 1 cities and talent hubs and as a result, we at Talent500 are noticing a remarkable increase in employment opportunities for candidates in tier 2 & tier 3 cities like Kochi, Indore, Pune, Mysore, and more.
WFX is a big leap towards a more accessible and inclusive workplace. Remote working is no longer a lifestyle choice. It is opening doors for candidates to an array of jobs that weren’t available to them before and is even making jobs accessible to candidates with special needs or chronic illnesses who would otherwise struggle navigating in an office setting.
Profitability & cost-saving through a decrease in employee density per square foot is another benefit behind open-plan offices. Even the employees who come to the office partly need not be allocated permanent spaces, which alone could save a hefty amount of money. For example, commuting is a heavy expense when you consider that employees need gas and a car and employers need to provide parking, which takes a fair deal of real estate costs. According to CNN, Dell India saves around $12 million a year by offering 25% of employees flexible work options and consolidating extra office space. A survey also shows that most employees are willing to take reasonable pay cuts in exchange for more flexible work options, adding to the overall profitability of an organization.
We’re also seeing that frontline leaders have shouldered higher responsibilities while decentralizing the workforce. Adopting an approach that gives employees the freedom to work from anywhere has also led leaders to change the mindset about making tactical changes. They are prioritizing urgency, keeping a check on productivity, and in fact, also mentoring. In the Global Talent Trend survey by Mercer, it was recorded that 94% of employers agreed the overall productivity of their organizations remained the same or increased.
No doubt, remote work can be very isolating, especially for introverted employees. To mend this, many organizations want their employees to “plan randomized conversations” to engage in unstructured conversations as a way to cool down. Github, one of the world’s largest developmental platforms has a plan for covering gym memberships of their employees. Buffer on the other hand offers a fixed stipend for coffee every month to each employee. Such initiatives can have a critical impact on higher employee satisfaction and retention.
Remote working isn’t a novel concept. It has been around for decades – ever since professionals traveled while working. However, the recent rise in remote working is highly technology-driven, since collaborations are made easier via cloud-based systems, instant chats, and collaboration tools. Due to its drastic rise and the benefits it comes with, many organizations have already embraced the WFX model. Judging from today’s scenario, the future of work will be dominated by a younger generation of employees with an intent of working to live instead of living to work, and working from home is a great way of achieving this. It will definitely work in the long run.