In the ever-evolving landscape of work, the best companies are those that adapt and innovate. They are the ones that embrace digital technology to facilitate flexible work, as I tell clients whom I guided in figuring out their hybrid work policies. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jeff Abbott of Ivanti, an IT solutions provider, to discuss the impact of hybrid work and remote work on businesses.
The New Reality of Work
Ivanti has positioned itself as a provider of “everywhere work elevated.” When the pandemic hit, and employees began working from home or remotely, Ivanti’s solutions became a premium in the marketplace. The company has put a lot of energy into thought leadership around “everywhere work,” recognizing it as perhaps the most significant work phenomenon of the last century.
The reality is that leaders and organizations around the world now have to adapt to not only hybrid work but also fully remote work and digital nomads. This shift is not just a temporary response to a global crisis; it’s a fundamental change in how we perceive and conduct work.
However, this new reality has been met with resistance from some quarters, often stemming from a generational issue. Leaders who are accustomed to having direct reports and extended teams in the office, collaborating in person, and feeling like they have control over the direction of the organization, find it uncomfortable to give up that control. This discomfort is understandable but must be overcome for businesses to thrive in the new normal.
The Role of Technology in Facilitating Control
The big question is how to ensure productivity and proper results from your collective organization while not infringing too much on the personal integrity of your workforce. The answer lies in relearning management models and leveraging technology.
There are now tools available that allow for remote interactions and provide more information about the average time of use of each solution on the network. This focus on digital experience is crucial in the modern work environment. Today’s employees, particularly younger ones entering the workforce, are asking questions about the digital experience at potential employers. They want to know how easy it is to get on and off the network, how quickly they can get answers when they have challenges with their tools or hardware, and how their overall digital experience will be.
Embracing Employee Choice
The best companies are those that embrace employee choice. They provide an easy and safe way for employees to get on and off the network, secure and keep their devices up to date on all security requirements, and ensure a positive digital experience for their employees.
This approach is not just about providing the necessary tools and security measures. It’s about acknowledging and respecting the preferences and needs of employees. By doing so, these companies are creating an environment where employees feel valued and trusted, which in turn boosts morale and productivity.
However, it’s not just about the technology. It’s also about the leadership. The CISO and the CHRO are often more comfortable with their employees working remotely more of the time. They understand that if they don’t allow their talented employees to work remotely, they risk losing them.
The Future of Hybrid and Remote Work
According to the 2023 Everywhere Work report by Ivanti, 66% of workers reported no negative impact from remote work, up from 51% in 2020. Furthermore, 71% of hybrid workers consider it the most appealing arrangement, up from 42% in 2020.
These trends suggest that remote and hybrid work is not a passing phase but a new permanent condition. Companies need to adjust to it, and this includes changing leadership model for remote work. Leaders need to relearn how to recruit, evaluate performance remotely, coach remotely, and sometimes counsel people out of the organization remotely.
This shift in leadership models is not a simple task. It requires a fundamental change in mindset and approach. Leaders must learn to trust their employees more, to evaluate them based on outcomes rather than hours spent in the office, and to provide support and guidance even when they can’t be physically present.
In addition, leaders must also learn to navigate the challenges of maintaining team cohesion and company culture in a remote or hybrid work environment. This may involve finding new ways to foster collaboration and connection among team members, such as through virtual team-building activities or regular video conferencing meetings.
The Role of Technology in Facilitating Remote Work
Technology plays a crucial role in enabling remote and hybrid work. From collaboration tools that allow team members to work together in real time, to project management tools that help keep everyone on track, to communication tools that facilitate regular check-ins and updates, the right technology can make remote work more efficient and effective.
Moreover, technology can also help address some of the challenges associated with remote work. For example, productivity tracking tools can provide leaders with insights into how employees are spending their time, helping to ensure accountability without resorting to micromanagement. Similarly, virtual private networks (VPNs) and other security measures can help protect sensitive company data, even when employees are working from home or other remote locations.
The Importance of Employee Choice
One of the key insights from my conversation with Jeff Abbott is the importance of employee choice in the new work reality. The best companies are those that give their employees the flexibility to choose how, when, and where they work.
This doesn’t mean that employees should be left to their own devices. Companies still need to provide the necessary support and resources to ensure that employees can work effectively, whether they’re in the office or at home. But by giving employees more control over their work arrangements, companies can boost employee satisfaction and productivity, while also attracting and retaining top talent.
The best companies are those that not only embrace “everywhere work” but also lean into it as a new leadership challenge. They adjust their model to accommodate this new reality, recognizing that it’s employee choice that’s best and that they get the best productivity for it.
The future of work is here, and it’s digital, flexible, and employee-centered. Companies that recognize this and adapt accordingly will be the ones that thrive in the new normal.
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Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on May 20, 2023