Flexible work is here to stay, but do business leaders trust employees to WFH?

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Flexible work is here to stay, but do business leaders trust employees to WFH?
Organisations should focus on four key pillars of remote work: Structure, Culture, Technology and Compliance.
Photo by Steve Ding on Unsplash

Research shows that flexible work is here to stay, but businesses need to re-examine their structure, culture, policies and technology or risk employees finding opportunities elsewhere.

Remote work, rapidly accelerated by the pandemic, is now essential to business success and worker productivity. However, as parts of the world open up and hybrid work becomes a reality, research shows that companies must invest in establishing flexible work policies and programs, and address a sizeable disconnect in trust between decision makers and employees, according to a Forrester study commissioned by LogMeIn.

Remote work is at a crossroads. While necessitated by the pandemic, workers have reaped the benefits of greater flexibility that they are now not willing to go without. The study shows that nearly three-quarters of workers said the pandemic made them want to work more remotely in the future, with 83 per cent of employees saying that they are more likely to stay at their company if they are allowed to work flexibly. 60 per cent of respondents said they were even willing to accept less pay in a trade for flexibility. 

However, many decision makers and leaders are still taking an antiquated look at remote work rather than seeing it as the competitive differentiator it is. While 56 per cent of employees say they are more productive when working remotely and 61 per cent say they can get more done in an 8-hour workday when remote, only 5 per cent of decision makers surveyed believe remote workers are more productive, and 70 per cent said employees in the office are more trustworthy. 

So, while companies must take this next shift toward hybrid or digital-first work as an opportunity to mature the remote work tools and programs hastily put in place one year ago, the study conducted using two online surveys – one of 582 remote work decision-makers, such as those leading human resource or IT departments, and a second survey of 427 employees – each at global organisations of 10-2,500 employees, shows they may not be. The results show that business leaders must move away from outdated remote work stigmas and embrace the new way employees want to work. Shifting to an “anywhere” work program is not a simple task, but it is critical for business success. In fact, the findings revealed that: 

Employee happiness and mental health need to be prioritised:

  • 62 per cent of employees say they are happier when working remotely.

  • Mental health support is a particular area of need – only 44 per cent of employees thought their organisation was effective at supporting mental health needs when working remotely. However, the data showed that employees at organisations that had implemented a mental health support program were more satisfied with their work, had more energy at their job, and were more likely to remain at their current organisation for a long time.

  • Employees in the high remote work satisfaction group, compared to their counterparts in the low satisfaction group, were more likely to feel good about their company (89 per cent vs 52 per cent), feel that their job inspires them (90 per cent vs 57 per cent), and be satisfied with their work overall (95 per cent vs 65 per cent).

The correct policies and documentation must be created and communicated: 

  • Half of the decision-makers surveyed said that their organisations have a formalised flexible work program in place, however less than one per cent meet all the specifications of Forrester’s tenets of a flexible work program.

  • Only 21 per cent of employees say they can choose which work style works best for them.

  • Only 38 per cent of employees say their organisation has documentation related to work styles and only 18 per cent have read it. Employees who know the criteria are 2X more likely to experience remote work satisfaction.

The right technology enables seamless and secure employee collaboration:

  • Technology decisions can’t be one-sided or driven primarily by cost-saving. 82 per cent of decision makers say the ideal way to make a purchase decision is with equal input from HR and IT, however, only 51 per cent of organizations are making technology decisions this way.

  • 81 per cent of decision-makers say they are effective in ensuring personal privacy among remote and in-office workers, yet only 58 per cent of employees are satisfied with their employers in this area.

  • IT decision-makers seem to see this gap as well. While 76 per cent believe a strong remote work technology suite would improve compliance, only 58 per cent believe their suite is doing so today, showing there is clearly room for improvement.

Organisations should focus on what Forrester defines as the four key pillars of remote work: Structure, Culture, Technology and Compliance, in order to successfully implement flexible working and attract and retain productive, happy and diverse talent. The research suggests that embracing anywhere-work and focusing on these pillars can help businesses achieve high remote work maturity and ultimately improve employee engagement and satisfaction, strengthen productivity levels, achieve better customer experience, and reduce costs, which can even lead to increased revenue.

To download the full study about how to unlock the full potential of anywhere-work, click here. 

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