In an increasingly digital world, offering flexible work options such as remote work and hybrid work has become essential for businesses to stay competitive. Remote and hybrid work have been shown to increase employee satisfaction, productivity, job performance, and overall workplace efficiency.
By providing employees with the option of working remotely or in a hybrid environment, employers can ensure that their workforce is engaged and motivated while also fostering collaboration between teams.
As more companies begin to offer these types of flexible work options, employers need to understand how best to accommodate them to stay competitive in the talent market. This article will provide step-by-step guidance on how employers can start offering remote and hybrid work opportunities for their employees.
Step 1 – Plan Ahead
The importance of planning cannot be overstated when it comes to transitioning all or part of your business to remote or hybrid work. Establishing a plan is the first step employers should take to ensure that the transition is successful and that employees are comfortable with their new working methods.
First, employers should assess their existing business processes to determine which ones may be well-suited for remote or hybrid work and how they can best be transitioned.
Processes requiring constant, active collaboration may not be best suited to remote work, whereas more focused, individual work-based functions would likely be more compatible.
Step 2 – Communicate With Employees
Communication is critical when transitioning to a remote or hybrid work environment. Once employers have identified the processes that will transition, they should notify those employees who will be able to work from home of the upcoming change.
It’s important to think about how your employees will respond to this option becoming available. The circumstances of the pandemic made most workers familiar with remote work, and many found that they preferred it.
However, some workers found that remote work did not work for them. Whether due to increased distractions, laxer routines, or decreased social interactions, these workers didn’t enjoy working from home and aren’t going to be excited about doing it again.
These differing workplace preferences are why it’s so important to frame this change as an expansion of workplace flexibility, not as a broad transition to remote work. While many employees would welcome the opportunity to work from home, those who prefer the office might dread it. It’s essential to ensure everyone understands that no one will be forced to work from home if they don’t want to.
Managers should decide how to frame the transition to flexible work depending on each individual employee to maximize productivity.
Some employees might be too eager to escape the expectations and monitoring of the office environment, and remote work for them might result in decreased productivity. To these employees, managers should emphasize that flexible work options are being adopted to boost productivity, not reduce it and that their productivity will be monitored regardless of where they choose to work.
Other employees might refuse the offer of flexible work options out of hand because they see it as less legitimate or less desirable, and they want to maintain a good reputation with their employer, even if they might be more productive working remotely. To these employees, managers should emphasize that productivity is more important than being present in the office and that they should choose to work where they’re the most productive.
In general, just like with any significant change, managers should keep a close eye on their team’s productivity and stress levels so they can help them through the transition to hybrid work or encourage them to stay at the office if it seems that working remotely doesn’t work for them.
Step 3 – Expand Your Digital Infrastructure
Depending on the size of your workforce and how much of your operation will be going remote, you may be headed for a huge increase in digital information usage. Adding a substantial number of roles and processes to your digital infrastructure could strain your existing bandwidths, and the transition of processes which weren’t previously digital may require adopting some new tools and programs.
Make sure your IT team is involved in the transition process, not just accepting orders from above. Ask for feedback, advice, and guidance in making decisions about how this transition is going to unfold.
Step 4 – Go Fully Digital
Remote work is worthless if the information employees need to work with is still stuck in paper formats.
If you have a backlog or archive of paper files taking up space in your office, it’s best to get all of that information into a digital format just in case it needs to be referenced by a remote employee. A backfile digitization project will make sure that all your information is accessible and secure.
If you have an ongoing process which still utilizes paper, set up a day-forward digitization process so that information makes it into your information system as quickly as possible.
Plus, digitizing your information brings a huge number of benefits beyond just making it compatible with remote work. Digital information systems are more secure, efficient, accessible, and reliable than large paper archives.
Consentia offers custom-tailored digitization solutions to organizations of any type and size. We’ve been doing backfile, day-forward, and many other kinds of projects for decades, and we’d love to help guide you through your digital transformation. Get a digitization quote!
Step 5 – Reassess Your Commercial Real Estate
Once your employees start shifting to remote work, see how many people tend to use your office space regularly. If your organization owns or leases a large amount of office space, the switch to flexible work options could free up a lot of it, depending on how many people decide to work from home and how often.
A substantial decrease in regular occupancy could allow your organization to downsize its office(s) while remaining just as effective. This would allow you to cut a large amount of cost on rent and utilities. For example, IBM, McKesson, Nortel, and several other major US companies report having saved millions of dollars in real estate and other costs after transitioning to flexible work options.
However, some costs of downsizing need to be considered as well.
Reducing your office space too early could be disastrous if some employees decide to return to the office after giving remote work a try and finding that it wasn’t their preference. Workplace flexibility means offering employees both options, so any day that your office space can’t accommodate all of the workers who want to be there is a day that you’re not actually offering workplace flexibility.
Additionally, although downsizing to shared desk spaces might save on space, it could result in some employees disliking the new arrangement and feeling less connection with the company, as there won’t be a personal workspace to call their own.
Another way to adjust to more remote work might be to rearrange the office layout, allocating the newly freed-up space to collaborative workspaces like conference rooms or community tables. One of the primary advantages of working from the office is in-person collaboration and meetings, which are generally preferred by many workers to online meetings.
In any case, make sure you take some time after implementing flexible work options to see how things settle out before making any big changes.
In conclusion, offering flexible work options is a great way for employers to save costs while still keeping their employees happy.
Remote workers need access to digital information to do their jobs effectively, so it’s important that organizations make sure they have the right infrastructure and programs in place before transitioning any of their processes. Additionally, if your organization owns or leases office space, you should consider downsizing after implementing flexibility as long as doing so won’t detract from the employee experience.
Creating an effective workplace flexibility plan requires careful consideration of both cost savings and employee satisfaction; however, if it’s done correctly can be incredibly beneficial for everyone involved.