The Start of the Remote Work Revolution

By Rhonda Werner, Recruiting Consultant – Partner

Not sure that anyone saw the revolution of working from home starting as abruptly as it did, but as states are slowing talking about easing people back into the work force, where does this take the future of remote working?

Many industries had embraced remote working well before Covid-19. While many didn’t work remote ALL THE TIME, things were set up to work from home and the office.  Agriculture, which is where as an overall organization, we spend the bulk of our focus, seemed to be behind the times in regards to allowing employees to work from home, even when many of their jobs could easily be done from home.

How does the post Covid-19 future look in regard to remote working?

I’m not sure we will fully have the answers, but here’s a few things to take into consideration:

  1. This was a good test to see how efficient people can be working from home, and from most things I’ve read, most seem to be as efficient or MORE because the distractions that normally come from idle chit chat or other distractions aren’t there.  (Plus, think of how much MORE efficient some could be once they aren’t juggling work with kids at home!)
  2. If everyone is in agreement that people CAN work from home and be efficient, then do we need so many offices? Do we need such large office buildings?  Do our customers care that we have these fancy buildings to do work? Or can we get by with less? We can create common areas for meetings, or offices to use when people do need to come into the office, but maybe everyone doesn’t NEED an office in a very expensive building.
  3. This has made it evident that there are jobs that cannot be done from home. Regardless of technology, some roles will need that office, or more importantly that laboratory, research space, etc. that you cannot have at home.
  4. Employee engagement and overall morale has trended lower and lower over the years and the younger generations are much more concerned with a better work/life balance than their predecessors. I see that the overall work force “happiness meter” could be moved in a positive direction if more are allowed to continue to work from home or at the minimum work from home a few days a week. Not having to sit in traffic and commute 30 miles every day is enough to make anyone a happier employee who will probably be more efficient in the end.
  5. Building an atmosphere of trust will be important going forward with more remote employees. There’s a fine line in feeling like “big brother is watching” and just making sure things are getting done in a timely manner, regardless of how long it may take to accomplish those.

No one will want to continue in our current situation of remote work, but it’s something to think about, and have conversations with your employees about, as businesses start to resume a more normal work pattern.  Some are not going to want to work from home every day, they miss that personal interaction, but there may be a way to lead into a place of greater satisfaction for everyone.  Perhaps you come into the office on Monday and Friday’s but Tuesday through Thursday you can work from home.

What conversations are your organization having about the future of remote work, if you’ve even had those conversations yet?  We would love to hear more.

I hope we will see more hybrid office/remote roles that I think in the end will garner overall higher employee satisfaction with their roles and may lead to less turnover in the long term.