As we all are very aware, everything has changed in the last year and a half. This, of course, includes our approach to remote work.
Prior to the pandemic, few companies embraced the idea of remote work, even though the technology that enables it has been available for a long time. The old command and control approach to work meant that bosses didn’t believe their people were working unless they could see bums in seats (which really doesn’t ensure anything). But now we’ve had a collective change of heart and the business world has realized that work can get done, and rather well at that, at a distance.
It used to be the biggest struggles around remote work were communication and collaboration difficulties. Loneliness took a top spot as well. In 2021 though, we now see a new challenge taking over the top spot: not being able to unplug (27% of workers surveyed). (Source: The 2021 State of Remote Work, Buffer)
Does this mean, then, that workers would rather go back to the office and not be lonely anymore? Nope.
According to a recent survey of 3,000 workers, 64% of respondents said they would choose a permanent work from home option over a $30,000 per year raise! If that isn’t a clear indicator of how much people like to work from home, I don’t know what is. Some companies report even higher numbers: 71% of Airbnb, 81% of Lyft and 89% of Twitter professionals, for instance, prefer permanent work from home over a compensation increase. And, amazingly, 100% of Zillow Group professionals say they would prefer permanent work from home to a raise. Wow!—I’ve been talking about embracing work from home for years now, and even I’m surprised at that.
Let’s loop back to what we said about the overwork and loneliness challenges faced with working from home. How does that tie in? It comes down to flexibility.
It would seem workers would like to keep working remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers. People may have been forced into working from home, due to the pandemic, but they find they love the flexibility it offers and they don’t want to lose it. In fact, for those who only started working remotely due to the pandemic, 96% are now fans of remote work. If they have some time at home, and some time in the office, this may be the best of all possible worlds for them.
And now for the real concern… how are managers going to deal with this over the long term?
Every employee works differently and has a preferred working arrangement. This can be tough on a manager who’s trying to keep everyone happy and productive. Allowing for more freedom can lead to better productivity, performance and well-being, all things that a manager would want from their team. But, the manager is now left holding the bag on how to get work done while making sure the team culture remains a positive and productive one.
Managers need support and training. Most of them are thrust into the role of people leadership without really knowing what to do. Add to that the complexity of remote and hybrid work arrangements and it’s no wonder managers are feeling the pressure. They need coaching, support, and soft-skills training to help them with connecting to, engaging, and inspiring their teams. They need to develop their relationship-building and empathy muscles. They need to learn to support and empower those who work with them. And they have to trust in their people. Without that, there will still be a culture, but it will be one of discomfort and even fear. No one wants that—especially the manager who will be held accountable for it.
So, what kind of programs do you have in place for your managers? What support and training are you offering them?
Flexibility is the future of team management, and it must be embraced. By allowing a healthy dose of flexibility and trust, managers will find their reports are happy, in charge of their own workloads, and doing great work. In order to do that, they also need some help. There is training available for them. Invest in your managers and watch how it pays off in happy, productive, and thriving teams.
Manager training is what I do. Check out my programs at www.cchangelearning.com/training-for-managers or speak to me about customized programs for your team.
Or check out my book for a resource on how you can become a better manager. Ask me about bulk purchase discounts.
cover photo courtesy of senivpetro