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Months into the pandemic, remote working is now the norm. It has changed how people work and how business gets done. What was assumed to be a temporary way of working has now become an accepted way of life.
Companies and their HR team now have to rethink their workforce, hiring and onboarding strategies, and their definition of work performance. It looks more challenging at the start but most teams find that down the road they see more productivity or at least more accountability as work becomes visible. While many companies have been experimenting with remote workers before the pandemic, this trend has accelerated dramatically.
Companies are more willing to hire remote workers and freelancers for short projects
32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure, according to Gartner Report. Companies don’t have to pay for employee’s relocation or rent for their workspace. Furthermore, as companies have already sunk in costs on digital collaboration tools like Slack or Zoom to facilitate remote work, there is a focus on studying the best way to get returns from it.
The buy-in for remote working is easier now. If companies are not used to these kinds of practices before, they have no choice but to adapt around it now. The next stage will then be thinking about how companies can operate with a remote workforce and get work done faster and better based on the changes that they are going through as well.
Employers are Able to Access a Wider and More Diverse Talent Pool
Since Covid-19 happened, we see a lot more demand for remote workers and freelancers. Companies want to do this because with hiring remotely, they have access to a wider and more diverse talent pool. Now they can choose the best person for the job from around the world instead of limiting it to within their geographies.
The workforce of tomorrow will even be more diverse than today’s—in terms of gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, and identity. Employers also need to keep adapting and be more open to this especially with new categories of identities that might come up in the future.
Differentiate between Skills and Roles: Freelancing is a Viable Career
The negative aspect about the pandemic is the loss of jobs as industries all around the world let go of their workforce. But this has meant that there is a shift to how workers view working with companies nowadays. They are selling their skills instead of applying for roles.
Even those who are skilled and in-demand with companies have decided they want to freelance instead. Companies should get used to working with freelancers as it is the way of the future. Consulting company Accenture has predicted that Fortune 2000 companies in the future will have no full-time employees outside the C-suite as some of today’s biggest companies move to a more flexible and virtualized workforce.
From a job security point-of-view, being a freelancer or consultant is definitely more uncertain, but as we have seen with the pandemic, it does not mean that those with full-time jobs have this uncertainty removed.
For freelancers, no matter what role you get, keep up-to-date, choose clients well, work on projects which help you progress in terms of skill and career, and you will develop and always be in-demand. For employers, encourage employees to develop critical skills that potentially open up multiple opportunities for their career development, rather than preparing for a specific next role.
Remote working arrangements force companies to reframe the way they connect with people at work to focus on employee experience
Employers are now forced to work with remote or freelance workers through investing in digital collaboration and communication tools to enable employees to work remotely. Big MNCs are used to dealing with multiple time zones when working together, but it is something new for smaller companies. Once you get asynchronous communication up and running using tools like Slack, coordination will get a lot easier and there will be a collaboration shift where everyone can work smoothly together no matter which part of the world they are in. However, we learnt that there are still a lot of organisational best practices that can be implemented to do remote working right.
Which countries are delivering the best digital work experience for their employees?
According to Mercer, India leads at #1 spot. More and more companies are investing in initiatives for their people – through new and varied rewards, better technology, and other initiatives to improve employee engagement and make them stay. The impact of employee experience, according to a study from MIT shows that in addition to increased profitability, companies with high Employee Experience ratings have twice the innovation and customer satisfaction compared to their lower-rated peers.
Working with Remote Staff, How to Get it Right:
Standardise workflows in shared directories
Get shared folders and keep standard procedure and workflow documentation up to date. When working on-site you can just point to physical locations in offices to direct colleagues to information sources as needed but as an employer, you need to make it as easy for your employees working across different time zones.
Write down your organisational practices
Now more than ever, expectations need to be written down. Set up guidelines on things like how meetings should be conducted online.
Get your screening systems right to hire the right person remotely from the get-go
This sets you up to trust them with working across time zones, cultures, and distance and enables them to get a sense of belonging to the organisation.
The opportunities for digital transformation are expansive and wide-ranging. Businesses that do it well will drive engagement, achieve organisational agility, maintain alignment and empower teamwork across all disciplines and locations. They will have a competitive advantage in this new era of work.