US Companies Walking Back Initial Praise for Remote Workforce
Companies across the nation were forced, some rather reluctant, to immediately embrace COVID-19 gripped a remote workforce ignited by stay-at-home orders as the country. Steven Fisackerly, Chief Operating Officer at STI LP, noted that C-suite executives and managers were initially impressed with the productivity of its teams. Workers stayed in contact, adopted new technologies for meetings and project management, and hit deadlines to keep targets and key performance indicators moving forward.
As the work-from-home experiment moves past the six-month mark, some cracks are starting to emerge, and managers are beginning to take notice. The day-to-day seems to be unaffected, but new initiatives are taking longer to launch, and hiring and onboarding new staff members is not a seamless process. Also, teams are losing the crucial cohesive bond that fosters group dynamics, such as creative synergies, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. One of the main advantages cited by business executives was the potential for spontaneous interactions. The idea is that dialogue sparked by a passing query within a corridor, or the quick brainstorm interactions at workstations are less frequent and not conducive within a remote work environment.
Many executives who were previously pleased with the remote workforce are now starting to re-think their positions. Still, Fisackerly says that the conversation around a remote workforce versus an in-office environment relies on the industry of the business. Aside from the new, inherent health benefits of staying home, business leaders are beginning to look closely at the environments that drive staff innovation in addition to maintaining new social distancing standards and recommendations from healthcare professionals.
Fisackerly points out that that commercial real estate corporations stand to lose the most from a permanent work-from-home workforce. As some companies weigh the cost-benefit of reducing structural office space, they are also closely examining the productivity of its staff. Indeed, a balance can be discovered. One consideration being discussed is having a hybrid model where specific workgroups (especially those in the creative field) would agree to come back collectively for particular days of the week to bounce concepts off one another, collaborate, strategize, and plan. The other days of the week would be spent in the worker’s remote location where they can continue to move projects forward and make all necessary guidelines.
With such a diverse workforce experiencing the effects of COVID-19, staff members will adjust and adapt as they mature in their profession differently. For example, a twenty-something professional just entering the workforce now will not have the institutional experience of a traditional 9 to 5 schedule to hinder professional growth. The 50-something professional may have a bit hard of a transition, but certainly not a hindrance to their professional capabilities. Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 has forced society into areas outside their comfort zones. Still, if history teaches us anything, it is that we can learn, adjust, adapt, overcome, and thrive together toward prominent futures.