chapter 2

new ways of working mean new opportunities — and new expectations

With so much in flux, employers and employees alike may be blinded by the sheer amount of change happening in today's workforce — and may, in turn, miss the equally large number of opportunities that come with it. For some employers, adopting remote or hybrid workforces may offer invaluable new opportunities to hire better, more diverse talent. For workers, the option to work remotely can open new doors and offer life-changing opportunities. 

the impact of an expanded talent pool

For those with the option to do so, remote work doesn't just give workers greater flexibility. It also gives employers a wider reach when searching for talent. Say you're looking for a .NET developer in Cedar Rapids: You were formerly limited to finding the best developer in Cedar Rapids, or one willing to relocate there. But with the rise of remote/hybrid workforces, you're now able to hire the best .NET developer period — regardless of where he or she lives.

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there simply aren't enough diverse candidates applying to their roles or in their networks.

Meanwhile, for employers that are serious about improving their diversity and inclusion performance, the rise of remote work offers a powerful new lever. Companies, especially those in the tech sector, have long bemoaned the "pipeline problem," saying there simply aren't enough diverse candidates applying to their roles or in their networks.

In geographic areas that are largely homogenous, that may even be true. But for employers hiring for a remote role, the pipeline problem is no longer a valid excuse for poor D&I performance. After all, when you can hire nationally — or even globally — a lack of local diversity shouldn't be an issue.

Companies that understand this and make use of it will benefit from better D&I performance and all the business benefits that come with it. Those that don't will likely face major employer branding challenges, among many others.

a new age of employee mobility

But it's not just employers that can benefit from the switch to remote or hybrid work. Employees with fully remote roles and in-demand skills can take advantage of this by relocating from high-cost metro areas to smaller, less costly "Zoom towns." In fact, almost a quarter (24%) of those who became remote or were already remote at the start of the pandemic said they relocated to another city, town or state as a result of remote work. Among them, 43 percent said cost of living was the driving force behind the move.

have you relocated to another city, town or state as a result of remote work?

yes 24no 76

what factors contributed to your decision to relocate?

relocation factors

This doesn't mean salaries can be reduced as workers move to locales with a lower cost of living. Fewer than one percent of respondents said they intended to adjust salaries for workers who relocate, so employers that pursue this course may have trouble hiring or retaining talent as a result.

Rather than seeing these moves as an opportunity to cut costs, many employers are even offering benefits that make working from home easier and more productive. In fact, 60 percent of respondents said their employers offered things like home office stipends, monitors and more.

has your employer offered you any of the following to support remote work?

remote work support

onsite employers need to consider expanding benefits

For employers that don't have the option to offer remote work, expanded health and safety imperatives will be a must. Companies like Walmart, Darden Restaurants and others have created new policies for sick leave to help stop the spread of COVID-19 among employees and customers. This may or may not continue to be necessary as vaccines become widely available, but with the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants of the virus, employers shouldn't expect such measures to stop being necessary anytime soon.

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more than half (53%) of workers say they won’t feel safe at work until their colleagues are vaccinated.

In fact, Randstad’s Workmonitor survey found that more than half (53%) of workers say they won’t feel safe at work until their colleagues are vaccinated and nearly the same (51%) say they want to to work from home until the vaccine is widely distributed. For employers, the takeaway here is clear: If the majority of workers are anxious about returning to work, you'll have to go the extra mile to build a safer workplace. (For actionable tips on this, head to chapter three.)

productivity is still a puzzle

Even with so many organizations moving to hybrid models, productivity is still a black box. In a recent survey, 50 percent of executives say they don’t have full visibility into their remote workers’ productivity. That's hardly a surprise, as remote workers aren't — well — visible. So unless remote workers have very clear KPIs to hit or rigorously scheduled deliverables to provide, it's virtually impossible for leaders to know if remote workers are actually working or if they're just binge-watching Friends while occasionally responding to emails.

To get more productivity out of your remote workforce, start with three simple steps: 

reframe how you define “productivity”

Understand that busyness does not equal productivity — in fact, it merely leads to burnout. Productivity, on the other hand, is consistently getting important things done, so be sure that’s what you’re measuring. Is real, business-critical work being accomplished, or are your workers merely “busy”? Keep in mind that a packed calendar or a busy shift doesn't mean an employee is actually producing meaningful work.

clearly define and articulate KPIs

This may seem obvious, but it’s critical to have KPIs in place for every member of your team — especially those who work remotely. Set milestones and evaluate them on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.

understand obstacles, and equip your teams to overcome them

When milestones are missed, a lack of any one of the following is almost always to blame: tools, training or time. Which of these impacts your teams’ productivity? Managers and leaders are equipped to give their workers more of each, so be prepared to do so once you've diagnosed their productivity problems.