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The workplace revolution has landed. There’s no question the business landscape is changing and managers are left navigating a new future of hybrid working. Flexibility and fit for purpose workplaces is the emerging theme.

When the world experiences disruption the choice is – do you explore how you can ‘go back’ to the status quo or do you invest time imagining a new way forward? Employers are presented with an opportunity to generate a completely different vision of their workplace or try to hold on to the past.

Greg Goodman, the boss of one of Australia’s top 20 listed companies and the nation’s biggest industrial landlord asks,

“Are you a company that’s going to embrace the change, or are you a company that resists change?”

There’s an opportunity to identify the silver-lining of this difficult situation. Can we become more productive, facilitate greater work-life balance for employees and make businesses more profitable in the future?

Equally it is important to acknowledge that working from home has been disruptive to both working environments and employee’s personal lives. Managers and employers are separated from each other for the first time working remotely.

Dr Ben Hamer, future of work lead at PwC cites,

“There’s a number of organisations who are advocating for a return to the office despite hearing loud and clear from their employees that they want to work remotely.”

Additionally, research highlights loneliness is one of the most common complaints regarding working remotely, with employees missing the informal office environment social interaction. To that end, demonstrating opportunities for remote social interaction are imperative.

Coraggio’s, CEO, Richard Skarzynski highlights,

“Humans are social creatures therefore working remotely is not for everyone. Whilst there’s pros such as greater work life balance, the downside is the risk of a gradual erosion of social engagement and reduction in innovation without daily “water cooler moments” and brainstorming amongst colleagues. The impact of a reduction in social capital and training younger staff when workers do not congregate needs to be taken into consideration.”

Therefore it is critical to provide opportunities for remote social engagement by structuring ways for employees to have informal conversations regarding non-work topics – this is particularly pertinent for workers who have been abruptly transitioned out of the office enabling them to maintain a cohesive team-working community.

According to Dr John Hopkins, Founder of WorkFlex,

“Gone are the days of rigid social and physical structures that many companies believed were essential to a productive work environment. What’s in, instead, are more adaptable designs, and communal areas meant to foster teamwork, creativity and a sense of connection lost during the pandemic.”

Companies have introduced care packages and virtual pizza parties (where pizzas are delivered to all team members) sent in advance to be opened at the time of a video conference and enjoyed simultaneously reducing feelings of isolation and promoting a sense of belonging.

How can managers maintain structure, performance and productivity?

Cultivating a company culture and rules of engagement working remotely is crucial to facilitate employee engagement and productivity. Emotional cues trickle down from effective management to employees seeking confidence and security.

Affirmation builds team stability, introducing supportive phrases in the company vernacular such as “we’ve got this,” or “this is tough, however I know together we can handle it,” or “let’s look for ways to identify our strengths during this time.” Employees are more likely to take up the challenge with a sense of purpose and focus and elicit any challenges asking, “How is this remote work situation working out for you?”

Consistent workflow management and effective communication platforms eliminates suboptimal workspaces and more productive operational efficiencies. This can be achieved by incorporating fully digital workspace with a monitored network for teams to access shared files and storage, coupled with daily check-ins and rules of engagement.

In addition, establishing remote-work policies ensure all employees share the same set of clear and concise communication expectations. Structure builds confidence, provides an equal footing and eliminates unnecessary at home distractions such as dogs barking and children interruptions, by not contending with unscheduled, ad hoc communication channels.

Encourage greater calendar sharing to facilitate effective communication planning, identifying the best time to be reached during the workday and establishing expectations regarding the frequency, means and ideal timing of all team communications. Productive communications commences with providing technology options – email alone is insufficient. Video conferencing provides colleagues’ visual cues increasing “mutual knowledge”, reducing the sense of isolation among teams. Mobile-enabled individual messaging functionality, such as Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams can be used for simpler, less formal conversations, as well as time-sensitive communication.

Studies demonstrate remote working employees are 20% to 25% more productive than their office counterparts. In fact, according to Prodoscore, people were 47% more productive working from home than they were working in an office. Not only are there fewer social distractions, but there are also more opportunities to take necessary breaks when required, which facilitates performance, motivation and “head space” for greater creativity.

Innovation and adaptability continue to shape an evolving standard for the future of post-pandemic business. Enterprise employers are no longer limited to hiring local talent, which equates to a far greater likelihood of finding someone with the skills, experience and cultural fit for their company.

The boss of Unilever, one of the UK’s biggest companies, has proclaimed his office workers will never return to their desks five days a week, transforming modern working life. Travel time to work is a big factor in today’s society particularly with the younger generation. They see this as a lost opportunity rather than a fact of working life.

Nicola Gillen a London-based workplace strategy and design specialist and author of Future Office, says that people will no longer be commuting into city centres “to work by themselves in rows, to be monitored in an old-fashioned presenteeism style of management that was invented more than 100 years ago. Instead, they will come to the office more purposefully for specific reasons”, such as collaborative work, meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Founder and CEO of Rollie Nation and Coraggio Member, Vince Lebon cites,

“All our Melbourne-based employees are working from home and whilst this has raised some new business challenges I have witnessed a closer collaboration and deeper relations develop amongst our team due to the nature of the current environment. They are doubling-down supporting each other emotionally, which heightens team morale.

From a management perspective greater structure is required along with an escalated necessity for developed systems, incorporating clear measurable outputs, afterall more clarity results in more employee comfort. An interesting observation are the employees less involved in social interaction are smashing it out working from home, as opposed to the star performers who typically shine leveraging off workplace guidance and energy.”

The following companies are offering work-from-home opportunities harnessing flexibility and creative problem solving developed to maintain and scale business productivity.

1. Shopify

The popular ecommerce platform announced it will now operate as a digital-by-default company. This means it will allow all 5,000 of its global employees and contractors to work from home permanently if they so choose. There are no geographical limitations, so the company can build a top-notch team of diverse talent for higher sales and more revenue.

2. Twitter

Twitter employees are allowed to continue working from home indefinitely. Anyone who prefers to work in an office at any time is welcome to do so.

While remote working is new to many companies, Twitter has been working toward this policy for a couple of years. Its goal is to create an environment that gives employees freedom and autonomy.

Adjustments will include subleasing some of their office space to cut back on costs, and they’ll rethink their frequency of online meetings to help employees avoid online fatigue.

3. Microsoft

When its American offices fully reopen, Microsoft will create a hybrid workspace. Employees will be able to work from home for up to 50% of their working hours.

Managers have the ability to approve permanent work from home positions, and the company will pay for any expenses incurred in setting up home offices. Full-time remote employees will be allowed to relocate and, while moving costs will not be covered, Microsoft will pay for any work-from-home expenses.

4. Amazon

Amazon, whose fulfillment services have been deemed essential during the Coronavirus pandemic, is allowing employees to work from home until June 20.

As one of the first businesses to shift to remote working, Amazon’s office closures have impacted several other companies.

The tech giant has paid $11 million in financial aid to help restaurants and shops surrounding its Seattle headquarters who have lost money since Amazon workers stopped coming to the office.

In conclusion, allowing employees choose when where and how they do their best work by redefining the workspace, businesses are able to develop an environment where people can thrive, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

What is Coraggio?

Being a business owner can be challenging and may include facing unchartered territory. However, it doesn’t have to be lonely at the top. Making the right decisions for your business deserves more than the occasional conversation with a mate. It deserves to aggregate the experience and a shared knowledge of collective awareness from fellow executives.

Operating a company typically presents complex issues, sometimes on a daily basis. Imagine if you could leverage the experience from an extensive group of industry peers to improve your decision making and future proof a sustainable business, whilst being held accountable?

Also imagine if you gained the peace of mind to seamlessly access these answers and navigate business challenges, simply by connecting with entrepreneurs and gaining knowledge from business leaders? This is the strength of peer to peer leadership mentoring and impactful, meaningful relations.

Coraggio offers a mutual exchange of expertise, ideas and a support system enabling you to capitalise on a give-and-take dynamic amongst advisors who have walked the path before, mitigating risk to your business.

Leading business owners and entrepreneurs join Coraggio to become part of a highly effective business community facilitating leadership, guaranteeing accountability and sharing innovative ideas within a cohesive and confidential national network.

This mutual exchange of Member’s expertise tangibly results in sustainable revenue streams, increased cash reserves and productive outcomes to future proof your business.

Coraggio Chairs are industry leaders, Members are forward-thinking advisors and all Advisory Boards are dedicated to the ongoing success of their fellow Member’s businesses, offering Fearless Objective Advice – that’s the Coraggion Spirit!

Afterall, in the words of Henry Ford

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”.

Would you like to be a part of this?

Want to be an integral member of a confidential group of business owners sharing their insights and experiences for the benefit of your business? Imagine how your business would benefit and grow from connecting with a broader community consisting of more than 400 high performing and driven business owners!

Explore membership today! Find out how our proven program can help you build a better business and become a better leader.

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