Remote Work: Is it the End?
I have had the opportunity this summer to visit with many of my key insurance clients in the WDC/Mid-Atlantic region and one of the subjects that always comes up is the Remote Work Environment (RWE). Is it here to stay? Time to call the troops back into the office? What are the conditions for continued RWE? Who gets it and who doesn’t? Is it really more productive? Should I still go into the office?
Let’s tackle these questions below and I will provide you with the consensus opinion that I have received from my clients.
1. Is it here to stay? Absolutely. The genie is out of the bottle and we all know that once the genie is out, well, it’s out! Two of my clients actually tried to bring back their workforce in early June only to find that an insurrection was quickly mounted by the employees. Letters were written, non-attributable messages left on the company website. No way. The order was quickly withdrawn. Another client had three of its top account managers depart for firms that offered RWE. This anti-return to work reaction has been well-documented in the Wall Street Journal in recent weeks. Ask me for the articles and I will send them to you.
2. What are the conditions for RWE? Experienced professionals who do not need to be trained are prime candidates for RWE. Newly minted college graduates and inexperienced administrative people all have to be properly trained and that is best done in the office. Many of my clients allow those working more than a one-hour commute to work 100% remotely. Those living closer are expected to at least come into the office two days per week – hence, the “Hybrid Model.” That seems to be working best…except for…is that really fair? Great point and this is where some problems are emerging. Why should someone of equal value and experience have to come into the office when a peer does not? Valid point, but read #3…
3. Should I still go into the office? Absolutely. All of my clients explained that coming into the office will provide executive management the necessary face-time with their direct reports giving them a significant advantage for promotion over those that work in an RWE. Out of sight, out of mind. So if you are career-minded and want to get promoted, it would be a good idea to get into the office on a regular basis to interact with the bosses.
4. Is it really more productive? It depends, but generally speaking, most of my clients said, “Yes” it is. A lot depends on the quality of the individual. Of course, some workers take advantage of the opportunity to goof off, but recent studies have reported that people actually are working more productively when they work remotely.
5. Where do we go from here? The RWE is here to stay, particularly, since remote technologies are evolving and improving on a real-time basis. Zoom and Teams don’t even resemble their original versions.
We will continue to monitor the RWE dynamic in the future, but as of right now, it is definitely here to stay.