Before the COVID-19 pandemic turned our world upside down, the concept of remote work was foreign to most people. Working from home was an activity reserved only for days when you had a doctors appointment or needed to get a head start on travel plans in the afternoon.
As we now start planning for the 2021 new year, remote work has become the “new normal” for many workers across the United States. While employees carve out space for home offices and get accustomed to new tools and workflows, their business leaders are working to determine exactly what the future of remote work will look like.
It’s hard to predict exactly how the workplace will change post-pandemic, but many companies are drawing up plans to maintain productivity while keeping remote work to some extent. To better grasp how companies are approaching these complicated work circumstances, here are 9 remote work quotes from top business leaders.
“We are seeing acceleration of the trend to democratize the workplace… During these last few months, digital technology has flattened hierarchies, with everyone connected and getting information at the same time, and so many channels for employee input and involvement in decision-making in real time.” – Diane Gherson, CHRO at IBM
At IBM, remote work has actually helped reduce hierarchal boundaries. Diane Gherson (CHRO) suggests that digital workspaces allow everyone to get information at the same time, which opens up decision making to more employees at various levels within the company.
“The future we envision for work allows for infinite virtual workspaces that will unlock social and economic opportunities for people regardless of barriers like physical location. It will take time to get there, and we continue to build toward this.” – Andrew Bosworth, VP Facebook Reality Labs
When sharing Facebook’s post-COVID-19 work plan, VP of Facebook Reality Labs Andrew Bosworth tweeted that remote work expands job opportunities by removing physical location barriers. In-office jobs are inherently limited to people who live in the surrounding areas or can afford to commute to work every day. If a job is conducted 100% remotely, location and commuting are no longer requirements.
“I can’t tell you the number of CEOs I talked to who are thinking, ‘I have to solve the diversity challenge in my business, and remote work is one of the key tools… We have to let go of this very office-centric culture and incorporate people who are in a lot of geographies.” – Hayden Brown, CEO of Upwork
Upwork is the world’s largest public online freelance marketplace, currently connecting over 5 million companies to freelance workers. Upwork’s CEO, Hayden Brown, emphasizes how remote work can actually be a tool for companies. Without geographic limitations, employers can hire candidates from a wider pool and can start remedying the lack of diversity present many industries.
“Remote work has definitely been a challenge and it took me a few months to get into the swing of things, personally. The most important keys to remote work at a startup have been weekly stand-ups, where we all get on Zoom once a week to chat, and regular 1:1s with video on. Having your video on totally changes the tone of a meeting and is critical for a startup” – John Furneaux, CEO of Hive
Companies like Hive, a project management software startup, have utilized virtual meeting tools to stay connected and encourage camaraderie during this challenging time. Hive’s CEO John Furneaux believes face-to-face connection is essential to remote work, especially for startups that thrive on collaboration. Hive’s employees, along with thousands of other users, use Hive’s Zoom Integration to start video calls without ever leaving the platform.
“Even if remote work turns out to be less productive on some metrics than others, reducing carbon-based emissions or the improving work-life balance could make up for it.” –Mark W. Johnson and Josh Suskewicz, Harvard Business Review
Johnson and Suskewicz, authors of Lead From The Future, suggested that remote work has the potential to impact other, less obvious, aspects of life. With fewer people commuting and less electricity used in office buildings, remote work could play a role in the fight against climate change. On another note, the challenges of remote work could actually perpetuate self growth, pushing workers to improve productivity and address underlying personal issues that otherwise go unnoticed.
“As we’ve moved to virtual work, we haven’t just coped, we’ve actually thrived. We are more focused on the things that have the greatest impact for our customers, associates and the business. We are making quicker decisions and acting. Meetings are now more inclusive of people regardless of location, level or other differences. We have great momentum and need to figure out how to carry it forward.” – Suresh Kumar, CTO at Walmart
Suresh Kumar says that Walmart’s employees have actually thrived during this period of remote work. They are focusing on the most important problems, acting quickly, and making meetings more inclusive. This environment has created momentum for the entire company, proving that the initial challenges of remote work can lead to positive changes.
“Creativity isn’t just reserved for artists or culinary geniuses, it can and should be used by management and leadership teams to help strengthen culture, develop new campaigns, or help communities in need… Once our team settled into the new norm of weekly Zoom calls, social-distanced meetings, and bouncing marketing ideas off of our families and neighbors, productivity and creative levels shot through the roof.” – Scott Taylor, CEO of Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux
Scott Taylor believes that creativity is crucial for helping any business succeed, even if you aren’t in a creative field. In an interview with Inc.com, he says this has been even more important for his team during the pandemic. Staying connected, sharing ideas, and thinking outside of the box has helped his team boost productivity and perform better, despite the challenging environment.
“Success in a hybrid work environment requires employers to move beyond viewing remote or hybrid environments as a temporary or short-term strategy and to treat it as an opportunity.” George Penn, VP at Gartner
In an interview with Human Resource executive, George Penn says that instead of viewing remote work as a burden, companies and employees should look at this new environment as an opportunity. This change in mentality will help organizations focus on creating long term, sustainable strategies instead of quick “bandaid” fixes that don’t support lasting success.
“Now that companies have built the framework – and experienced the cost and time savings associated with it – there’s no real reason to turn back.” – Mark Lobosco, VP of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn
Mark Lobosco gives another good reason why remote work is here to stay. Most companies have already gotten over the hurdles of using new tools, developing new processes, and embracing the virtual work mentality. Now that they are beginning to see the fruits of their labor, there isn’t any reason to turn back now.
Overall, we’re seeing massive changes in the way we work, communicate, and socialize with each other in the “work” environment. These are just a few tips from some leaders in the space that hopefully will give you an idea of how other organizations are making the best of this time. What changes have you seen at your organization? Let us know how things have changed for you in the comment section below.