Saturday Sitdown: In five years remote working will ‘just be work’, says digitally-native brands guru – City A.M.

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As the city begins to ramp up again and offices swing open their doors the debate rolls on – how many days should people return to the office? Should this be mandatory or flexible? Will the days be set or of a person’s choosing?

Employers and employees find themselves at loggerheads when it comes to these questions with businesses offering more perks to entice people back to the office and workers firmly staying put in their homes. 

A recent Future Forum Pulse survey showed the divided opinion between employers and employees towards remote work. Of those working fully remotely, nearly half of executives (44%) want to work from the office every day, compared to 17% of employees. 75% of executives want to work from the office three to five days a week, versus only 34% of employees. 

In this new age of working, companies need to drag themselves out of the past according to Steve Ryan, MD of DTC at Resident, a platform of digitally-native brands in the mattress and home goods category which has been a remote-first organisation since it began. 

“Tackling this divide in views on working isn’t going to be straightforward but employer’s need to stop yearning for the past. In the next five years remote working will be a part of working life and businesses who can’t see that will be left behind”, Ryan told City AM. 

Larger companies such as Twitter have already spoken out to say that they will commit to a true flexible working policy, keeping the option of working remotely forever.

“It’s this type of commitment we need to see from the larger firms to set a precedent for others”, Ryan commented. “Having remote working as an option opens up a company to a wealth of opportunities and talent.”

The future  

As a remote first company, Ryan has witnessed the benefits of offering a fully remote or hybrid working environment at Resident. From increased productivity, engagement and communication, if done right it can be good for employees and great for employers. But how exactly do companies nail this?

Ryan notes, “although it may sound like a large undertaking, an organisational restructure or a company wide reorganisation may be necessary to fight against a potential loss of talent and recruit for new talent.”

He explained that there are a few ways companies can do this relatively seamlessly and easily. 

“It’s vital that businesses understand how to communicate. Conversations now rely on instant messaging, video and audio calls where there is a threat of information loss or siloed working.”

“Employers should ensure they are reaching all corners of the business when communicating with the team.

If executed correctly an entire organisation can be connected across a few channels all day, everyday and not only when called into a boardroom.”

Steve Ryan

“Employers should ensure they are reaching all corners of the business when communicating with the team. If executed correctly an entire organisation can be connected across a few channels all day, everyday and not only when called into a boardroom.”

Ryan went on to say that the most important part of creating a successful remote/hybrid working structure is creating a sense of community and company culture. 

“Employers should be focusing on building a great, in sync and motivated team. Creating a culture built on trust and agency goes far within a company.

He added that “employees need to be given agency over their work, a manager wouldn’t stand and look over the shoulder of an employee in the office and so this shouldn’t be the norm when working remotely.”

Increasing the level of  informality within an organisation is also crucial in building relationships across the company, Ryan explained. 

“This will encourage the creation of a flatter culture and creativity across teams, helping to build relationships among employees, teams and departments, encouraging more productive collaboration.”

Don’t look back in anger

Ryan concluded by calling out to urge businesses to not take steps back and dismantle the progress made over the past few years. 

“Remote working shouldn’t be a luxury. Companies need to navigate this change in work by building connections with their employees and striving to become output, not input orientated.” 

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