Effective leaders need to learn how to guide and inspire without relying on the outdated butts-in-seats management approach. “Anywhere work” will become accepted even by businesses that re-commit to a fully in-person model.
Guest speaker Andrew Hewitt, Forrester Senior Analyst, joined LogMeIn’s Chris Perrotti, VP and Chief of Staff to CEO, in a recent webinar to discuss these points and other “anywhere” work strategies that will be essential to ongoing business success. Building off the lessons of the pandemic, they exchanged thoughts on the future of work, drawing from their own organizations’ directions and the results of a recent commissioned Forrester Consulting study on anywhere work strategies. Watch a sample of the webinar below:
Replays of the full webinar are still available. But first, a few main takeaways:
- Most companies won’t be fully virtual, but almost every company will have “anywhere” workers. Hewitt says that Forrester expects the majority of companies to settle into a hybrid model, with workers along a spectrum of fully-remote and fully in-office modes. But even at 30% of companies that are expected to stay in an office-centric model, some workers will have the built-in flexibility to work from anywhere. Forrester expects about 10% of companies to commit to a fully “anywhere” model.
- In-person work can become more meaningful by becoming more intentional. Whether returning to a fully in-person model or staying hybrid, time spent in the office doesn’t have to mean a return to the same old routine. “Think about how you will use the office when you do go in. I picture clearing my schedule so I’m meeting people, having coffee, taking people to lunch, celebrating an accomplishment. That’s what I want to do in the office in the future,” Perrotti said. “When I need to get stuff done, this is where I’m going to do it, right here [at home] where I’ve been getting it done for the last year.”
- Remote workers don’t want surveillance, but they don’t want abandonment either. Widespread remote work has thrown out a lot of assumptions about the personality types that thrive (or wither) without a manager standing over their shoulder. It’s also made clear that workers don’t want to feel that the same work-from-anywhere tools are tracking their every move. At the same time, it’s important that leadership not step so far back that workers feel that they are entirely on their own. “Take time and be intentional about checking in with your employees,” Perrotti said. “Anything that drives ad hoc interpersonal conversation can go a long way.”
- Cost-cutting is immature, and no one appreciates it. Hewitt pointed out that Forrester’s survey uncovered that the organizations that focused most on the cost-savings benefits of remote work tools had the least-mature remote work strategies. Worse, the survey found that employees can tell when their employers have cost on their minds. Forty-two percent of low-satisfaction workers said their employers were primarily motivated by cost controls, compared to just 26% of high-satisfaction workers. “It’s not as if these things aren’t transparent to employees,” he said.
- Anywhere work needs to be strategic, not just permitted. “It used to be enough to offer flexibility as a perk, but there really wasn’t a lot of organizational investment around it,” Hewitt said. Employees need more than freedom to work from anywhere. They need focused institutional support and cultural priorities that make flexible work successful. “If you take your most successful, engaged employee and put them in a remote situation with no support at all, chances are they’re going to fail.”