The Future Workplace: Remote Work
The future workplace is comprised of humans and machines, where non-strategic work is automated by machines and only strategic, value added work is performed by a distributed and dynamic workforce consisting of internal employees, remote workers and teams, outsourced firms, freelancers, staffing companies and contract workers. Indeed, globalization and the advent of better and better communication and collaboration tools has made it increasingly popular to employ remote workers. This proves to be beneficial for both the company and the workforce, who now have more flexible work arrangements. Remote work, however, is not without its challenges. It is important to ensure that these remote workers remain involved in and not cut-off from the rest of the organization, especially where they are needed to make decisions and share knowledge. In addition, it is important to remember that culture, engagement and satisfaction look different for workers who choose to work remotely than those who prefer commuting to the office. Other factors to consider with relation to remote work are strategy, structure, people, technologies and laws.
Strategy, Structure and People
The first step to organizing remote work is to tie the practice back to your business strategy. Whether you are a technology company in need of a talent pool outside your location, a consumer goods company that needs sales teams in the field or a business that simply wants to offer remote work as a benefit; your strategy will determine how you organize and structure your remote workforce. In turn, your strategy and structure will dictate how you distribute remote work, staff remote teams and comply with labor laws. In deciding how to distribute remote work and staff remote teams, you must consider the type of work being performed, critical touch points in the work that require collaboration, and personalities comfortable with and capable of performing work away from the office. A worker who chooses to work remotely likely does so because it aligns with their personality and needs. This individual likely prioritizes autonomy where someone who chooses to commute to the office might prioritize affiliation.
Technologies (as well as other tools, practices and policies) should exist to support people in their work. For remote workers, this looks like collaboration and communication tools that allow for seamless interaction with their co-workers, while enabling them to demonstrate their preferred work style and do their best work. Whether its every day communication, weekly meetings or important decisions; the takeaway here is that the role of technology in the future of work is to enable easier interactions, augment work and fuel collaboration. If not done well, if technology is not integrated or onboarded properly, the result is organizational paralysis, decreased performance, and a negative employee experience and culture.
How you manage outsourced work will be different from how you manage remote work. Whether a worker is legally a 1099 contract worker or a permanent employee is determined by how they are managed, not how they are classified. An owner who thinks they can change the status of their employees from W4 to 1099 because their employees were suddenly permitted to work remotely would likely find themselves in violation of the FLSA. Finally, there have been cases of employers allowing workers with a disability to work from home as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Learn what labor laws affect your remote workforce, or hire a consultant who already knows.
In the future of work, we will use more differentiated and dynamic workforces distrusted strategically with decision making agreements attached to strategic roles and teams that will be filled by high potentials with high variability. This future workforce will not accept status quo leaders, policies, practices or technologies. They are getting more in touch with their own personal missions, values and strategies; which they expect to align with their work and workplaces.
Meta Title: Humint | The Future Workplace – Remote Work Meta Description: The future workplace is comprised of humans and machines, where non-strategic work is automated by machines and only strategic, value added work is performed by a distributed and dynamic workforce consisting of internal employees, remote workers and teams, outsourced firms, freelancers, and contract workers.