If nothing else, 2023 will serve as a reminder that some temporary measures are worth keeping.
As we completed three years of remote and hybrid work models, organizations showed signs of pulling back from what has become a popular, sought-after work model.
That became quite a tough sell for their employee base. Hybrid work models have become the norm in many organizations, with many management teams learning how to manage and motivate teams that worked in office, remotely, or a combination of both.
Maybe more importantly, flexibility became a crucial business need. As organizations had to pivot quickly in 2020 to keep the lights on, they learned amid pandemic-related shutdowns how to build resiliency and flexibility into their operations. It seemed that finally, management got the memo on just how agile and productive their teams could be in a remote or hybrid environment.
It seems that memo has quickly been forgotten. 2023 was the year that large companies – including those companies whose very business model was promoting remote and hybrid work – started requiring their employees to return to the office. Directives from organizations, some including ultimatums, hit employee in boxes.
In a Resume Builder survey of 1,000 companies, 90% of respondents plan to implement RTO policies by the end of this year. Management wanted their teams in house, partly because they felt productivity was suffering, but also because of the misperception that employees must be in the office in order to be managed properly. Productivity, they believe, suffers when teams are not all in the same building.
However, the numbers do not support that notion. US Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that in 2020 and 2021, productivity was growing – by 4.4% and 2.2% respectively. While there was a decrease in 2022, productivity rose 3.7% in the second quarter of 2023 and is up 1.3% over 2022.
Add to that the fact that job seekers, now used to options, are overwhelmingly in favor of flexible work options. A McKinsey survey found that 78% of respondents want a flexibility in where they work and 95% want flexible hours. More telling: 72% of employees surveyed were not happy with the level of flexibility their company offered and would most likely be looking for a new job within the next 12 months.
Adopting a remote/hybrid work model, implemented, and managed properly, delivers plenty of benefits, including:
- Reduced overhead: Organizations can easily reduce office space, thus reducing the cost of operation.
- Global talent pool: Remote workers can be based anywhere, and you can find the right talent in nearly any location.
- More attractive to job seekers: As companies mandate RTO, you can stand out to candidates who might not have considered a career in insurance simply by offering remote/hybrid work.
- If managed properly, your remote workforce will be more productive.
Organizations that embrace and really focus on effectively managing remote and hybrid work will help lead the way for more operational flexibility in 2024. It does require a refocusing of effort and a tweaking of management style, but those companies willing to put the time into getting it right will see a more agile, responsive team that attracts top talent.