As we look into what the workplace will look like post-coronavirus, the reality for many employers may involve supporting a geographically distant workforce. Some employees may be returning to an on-site work location, while others will be working remotely longer-term, or even permanently.
Teams comprised of both remote and on-site employees may not only be the current reality—but the new normal. The expansion of remote work affects each organization uniquely, and employers can consider what actions may help bridge the gap between all employees.
The Expansion of Remote Work
Consulting firm PwC conducted a study of current use and preferences toward remote work, surveying both executives and employees impacted by their employers’ choices. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers expedited their remote work practices—often, within a matter of weeks. Results from executives surveyed found that:
Many employees hope to engage in remote work post-coronavirus as well, with the same survey reporting that 72% of workers would prefer to work at least two days a week remotely. The expansion of remote work means that many organizations are now transitioning from short-term remote work to a a mix of on-site and remote work for the foreseeable future in an effort to optimize employee experience and effectiveness.
Most organizations have norms in place for on-site employees and now need to adapt to a mirroring set of standards for those working remotely. Organizations should plan for a new sense of normalcy—it won’t be the same work environment that was left behind pre-coronavirus.
Meeting the Need of Both Remote and On-site Employees
The current employment market values stability, flexibility and safety. While remote employees often reap the benefits of having increased flexibility and an ability to prioritize safety, they face their own unique challenges—such as a lack of social interaction and a lack of common knowledge and information. Likewise, on-site employees seek to be part of a safe workplace, and often crave flexibility. In the current climate, organizations have challenges pleasing both on-site and remote employees. Employers can consider steps to meet the needs of all employees while standardizing business practices to help bridge any gaps.
Bridging the Gap
As employers consider how to engage both remote and non-remote employees, there are ways to help bridge the gap. When doing so, considerations include:
Every organization has a unique base of employees, and appropriate steps will vary. As your organization rolls out changes, consider how you can effectively communicate with all employees.
Likely, the coronavirus has impacted your workplace, and each employee. As initiatives are launched and changes are announced, strategically planned communications can help receive buy-in from employees. Any workplace changes can make a significant impact on the day-to-day life of hard-working employees, and organizations should be thoughtful about how they create necessary changes.
As your organization addresses the impacts of COVID-19, ensure that your ethos for internal communications acknowledges the challenges that employees face daily—but also transparently explains the rationale for how any decisions best serve the interest of the stakeholders of your business, including employees. Employees appreciate transparency, and this acknowledgment can help establish rapport during challenging times.
Supporting All Employees
Efforts will look different for every organization, but proper measures can help bridge the gap between employees. Consider initiatives that work for your organization, and contact your account executive for additional resources regarding the remote workplace.