When we were first asked to “Work from Home” to flatten the Covid infection curve, we were all optimistic that it would be a short-lived work impact. Now, nearly six months from that momentous occasion, most of us are still working from home and traveling much less than we did prior to Covid19. I think of how many Fortune 500 firms that I’ve worked with regarding a remote work strategy that initially proclaimed “we’re unique” and therefore, remote work may not be feasible. Even the global non-profit that I worked with in the fall of 2019 to implement a flexible work program who was not sure that it was the right course for them, were one of the first to contact me to express their gratitude for enabling them to leverage their team remotely on a volunteer basis to gain experience. When the time came to close their office and work entirely remote, they were much better prepared. Well, now it’s time to be more thoughtful about the policies that allowed employees to work remotely on a casual basis to see how they are working in a more continuous basis. I partner with my clients to evaluate their policies and procedures to ensure that they are working to leverage the employee as well as their client experiences. I commend these progressive employers for being pioneers in this environment and evaluating the long-term real estate strategy for their business.
While not all businesses are ready to continue the remote work experience on a go-forward basis, many businesses are ready to make the move. It is with this in mind that I offer some relevant points to consider when designing your remote business model.
- Engagement. Are your employees and clients able to continue in a highly engaged manner with your organization in this remote environment? You need to approach work differently and this space is no different. Client and employee retention are dependent on engagement; be sure that you keep both engaged in the organization. This can be done with very simple signs of appreciation. Provide stretch assignments to those key employees that are on a fast development path, this new work world offers many options in this space.
- Relationship. Stay close to those clients and team members that you highly value. Don’t risk losing a valuable resource by not keeping in close contact. Especially when you consider the mobility of new hires and recently engaged clients, work to strengthen these critical relationships.
- Profitability. Have you changed your business model to leverage all assets in this new work world? Don’t delay making decisions that have a significant impact on the bottom line for what might happen tomorrow. There is money, and a lot of it, left sitting on the table – use it to build your business today!
- Safety. Don’t just talk a safe work environment, live it. Employees are more critical than ever about their safety and that of their family members. Your employees have to consider their entire family in the risk factor of going to a physical work environment, make sure that you continually remind them of all that you are doing to ensure their safety and well-being.
- Client access. Do your client’s have ready access to your services on a remote basis and will they experience a competitive value from your remote model? If so, let’s go!
- Virtual technology. Are your employees equipped with the right equipment to be effective in a remote environment? There are so many tools and resources available, it’s worth checking out the cost of these options against the real estate savings.
- Volunteerism and Corporate Giving. It is more important than ever to continue to promote ways for your teams to give back; as much for the need in the communities as well as the meaning that it provides employees to give to others. So many employees are making decisions based on corporate giving strategies, be sure to leverage these opportunities in our new remote work environment.
- Appreciation and value. Employees are still in an at-choice work environment. While the job market has shifted, opportunities have not gone away. There are still plenty of opportunities to find other employment, be sure that your team members are aware of the value that they bring to the organization both in compensation and appreciation; the latter usually lasts much longer than the cash equivalent.
- Do the right thing. There will be times that policies and past practices just don’t provide the right template for what to do in these new work situations. Keep in mind the golden rule, or possibly the platinum rule and do the right thing and openly communicate it to others so that they are aware that you are progressive and comfortable enough to do what’s right in this unique operating environment.
- Communicate openly. Be sure that employees and clients hear from you often and that the communication is open and authentic. You don’t have to have all of the answers but you do need to be willing to act with integrity and candor. Frequent communications help assuage fears and concerns for both employees and customers; both audiences want to hear from you on the current state of the organization.
- Have fun. With all of the stress going on at home, work and school-they are often all under one roof now, be there to share laughter and fun with your teams and clients. Laughter is the best medicine and we all need more of it.
I enjoy working with organizations to create a strong value proposition for both team members and clients. I’d love to engage with your business to increase the momentum to engage with your business in a meaningful way. While it’s hard work, it’s rewarding to see the positive results that evolve.