How are you preparing for the near future when we can go back to the offices? How serious are you about remote and flexible working? 

We are hopefully on the last mile of this lockdown situation. It looks like we will soon enough see easing up on the measures. But is this the end or just the beginning?

Remote working has become the norm for the majority of people. But looking into the future, are we really aware of the possibilities that this way of working can bring? Or are we just going to keep our old mentality and not maximise its potential?

We believe that remote and flexible working has great potential, but it all depends on how we approach and think about it. We can use it as a tool to keep doing the same things we were doing before. Or we can actually build a new world of work. 

In a previous post we talked about reimagining the future, and how having a growth mindset and being resilient will help you see the opportunities of the future, instead of being stuck in the problems of the past. 

So with this in mind, how can we build processes and implement flexible working strategies that really help the future of our companies?

Some questions come to mind:

Will remote working be accessible and possible for everyone?

Each one of us is different and has different circumstances to deal with. Some people may not have access to high-quality technology, a separate room for office space, etc… 

Some people may even not apply for a remote working position due to their apparent lack of tools and flexibility. As a result, companies may be missing out on great talent because of it. 

So, how can companies implement solutions so we can make remote working a possibility for everyone?

  • You can provide your employees, old and new, with technology and tools they may need to do their jobs. Maybe even mention it on the job description, so people know what they can expect. How often do you ask them what they need?
  • Also, being aware of everyone’s personal circumstances may help you be more flexible and understanding. 

Will remote working affect the opportunities to grow inside a company?

If companies offer remote working as an option, some people may use it while others still go to the office. Will they all have the same opportunities to grow?

Obviously working in the same space with colleagues gives us deeper bonds and creates closer relationships. So how much will this influence the decision process when promotions become available?

A study on a big Chinese travel company that tested working from home nearly a decade ago showed people at home were promoted at about half the rate of those in the office. 

Analysing all these potential issues now will give us fewer problems in the future: 

Being aware of the potential bias is the first step. Sometimes we can fall into these traps even if we don’t mean to. So awareness is critical in these circumstances. 

Some companies use a results-orientated culture. They focus on the results, not the number of hours people have worked.

“We also track time with Toggl but the productivity is measured based on the results and not on how many hours you have been working. It works perfectly as we put a lot of trust into our coworkers.”—Alari Aho, CEO of Toggl

Make sure there is good, clear, and efficient communication with everyone on the team, both people in the office and those working from home. Communication is key to develop healthy relationships.  

Will flexibility help to minimise the gender equality gap?

Women were less likely to be hired than men during peak lockdown; hiring of women reached its lowest point in April at 41.5%

Flexible or remote working has the potential to benefit gender equality, but only if we really integrate these issues into our company culture, make them a priority and start implementing well-thought-out processes and systems to solve them. 

Business leaders, company owners, and decision-makers, all have the power and influence to make a difference. The question now is if we are ready to take the matter into our own hands and start creating a better future for everyone. 

On top of that, we believe that we should go even further, we need to start looking for equality at home. It’s great that women have more flexibility, but why should the responsibility rest solely or mostly on her shoulders?

The unpaid work women do is one of the biggest barriers they face to reaching their potential in the workforce”

We need to start rewiring the way we think, if we really want to create a better future, the only way to do it is to think differently. 

  • Encouraging fathers to take longer parental leave. 
  • Make it normal for men to share and talk about their responsibilities. To give you an example on this, my daughter is actually a regular on our morning team calls, quite often she just comes in and hangs around while I am talking to the team. Making this a normality will encourage more men to do it. As we always say “Lead by example”.

What about diversity?

As we talked about gender equality, we need to think about diversity. Remote working offers a great opportunity for companies to acquire talent.

If a company has a proper remote working environment, it could make jobs accessible to a wider range of people. 

We don’t need to limit ourselves to our geographical boundaries anymore. We can create a more diverse workforce, have multicultural teams, and benefit from different background experiences. 

We spoke with Lauren Lindsay, a talent expert, and flexible working advocate, during our interview on “The Growth Show” (live this Friday) and she said that the majority of companies are already becoming more flexible about the way we think about our jobs, and this could help diversity too. 

“We have fundamentally altered our perception of work, we don’t think any more about 9-5. So hopefully, because of that, we can start reassessing other aspects that we take for granted at the moment like what a certain applicant background has to be or how do we access talent.”  – Lauren Lindsay, Talent Expert.

Conclusion:

We have in our hands a really meaningful tool to make the world of work a better place. We are already seeing changes and improvements. We are on the right track, now we need to keep working together to create what can be a better future for everyone.