Since remote working became a necessity for many due to COVID-19 restrictions, companies and their employees have felt both the benefits and the drawbacks.
When planning for the future, HR and managers will no doubt take all of these experiences into account.
You may have already got feedback from your employees towards your remote working arrangements, ready for when staff can safely return to the workplace.
However, before you plan for this return, there are a few things you might need to consider.
Finding the right arrangements to suit both your employees and your business may be more of a challenge than it first appears.
What does the future of remote working look like?
There are lots of different benefits to both remote and workplace working. Most companies will look to strike a happy medium that allows both employees and employers to gain as many benefits from each as possible.
Remote working saves staff time and money on their commute and for employers, it reduces the need for office space, for example.
Working from the workplace can also often be more collaborative and many remote workers have missed the social side of being present in the workplace.
Many employers may want to get back to the workplace for this reason with employee mental wellbeing high on the agenda for many HR teams.
However, finding the right medium may bring with it a few challenges that employers and HR teams must be aware of.
Here are 3 key considerations for the future of remote working.
One important thing to consider is how remote and workplace working will affect how teams collaborate within themselves and across other teams.
For example, if you have half of one team in the workplace and the other half remote working, could the remote team miss out on important pre- and post-meeting conversations had in the workplace?
Equally, will remote workers feel as involved in discussions when remoting in as opposed to being present in the workplace?
To combat this, remote working could be organised by teams, where either the whole team works remotely or from the workplace.
This could be tricky where remote working suits some team members better than others, so in this scenario, it’s important that managers and the team discuss and agree on the best way to manage their balance between remote and workplace work.
A hybrid remote and workplace working structure will almost certainly lead to some staff remote working more than others.
A key consideration for HR and organisations is how to find the right balance. Employees who remote work more often than employees who don’t may feel more isolated and less a part of the company culture.
An employee remote working more than their colleagues might not necessarily be a problem and might be the best fit for them and the company. However, how much remote working is too much remote working to the point where an employee might feel too isolated? At what point might remote working affect collaboration between team members?
Employers could combat this by encouraging or requiring staff to work from the workplace a set number of days each month. More initiatives to help remote workers feel more integrated could also help.
Remote employees vs. non-remote employees
Remote working has been a necessity for millions through the pandemic, but beyond that, it will remain a great perk with lots of benefits.
However, for some organisations there might be staff who can’t work remotely due to the nature of their role.
This means that going forward, when restrictions ease and remote working becomes a perk rather than a necessity, it’ll be a perk that is only available to some employees and not everyone.
This could be difficult to manage as some employees might feel they have less access to perks through no fault of their own.
To combat this, employers could offer perks like flexitime to staff who can’t work from home, allowing more flexibility with shifts to account for longer lunch breaks or working extra on some days and shorter on others.
There’s been a lot of debate around the four-day working week too and employers may also look to introduce this as a perk that can be enjoyed by all staff.
It’s been incredibly challenging for HR in the last 12 months and managing any sort of return to the workplace will be yet another difficult task.
However, ultimately it has the potential to be hugely rewarding!
Getting the balance right between remote and workplace working that suits both the employer and their employees will come with lots of benefits!