Leading a Remote Workforce (Part III)

The reason that I’m spending so much time convincing you that the hybrid workforce is here to stay is that until we embrace that fact we’ll likely put minimal energy into adjusting our leadership skills, practices, and concepts. It’s a new world.

Consider this. I read a lot about companies and employers planning a wholesale (or close to it) return to in-person working. And then, I read about employees that go, “Say what?” I get that some jobs have to be done in a facility—warehouse workers, healthcare providers, manufacturing machine operation—at least for now! But, I advise employers to really think long and hard about rationalizing that expensive office space and enforcing neanderthal management principles on their workforce. It may work but the price will be horrendous.

Here are some reasons to rethink the “Lassie come home” strategy.

  1. Productivity gains in remote settings have skyrocketed as people embraced and mastered new technology.
  2. Time sacrificed to daily commutes has turned into work time.
  3. Most workers have signaled that they’d prefer a 30% In Person/70% WFH model. A full 49% according to Inc. 
  4. Engagement, while different, has remained amazingly strong during this WFH period; there’s no reason to believe it can’t continue to be strong and to even increase.
  5. Don’t overestimate in-person collaboration and declare it “vastly superior” to remote collaboration; most in-person meetings are poorly managed and less productive than people think.
  6. Life is a trade-off. What companies may receive by letting those who want to remain remote to do so has yet to be seen but I believe it will be in areas such as retention, loyalty, excitement, going the extra mile, and so on.
  7. Technology advances are rapidly making remote look and feel like in-person work.

I can’t tell you what to do. I can only counsel a reset and rethink of work before we simply declare “Allie, allie, in free!”

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