We hope your summer is in full swing, and we can’t help but notice that this summer feels a bit different. For many people, this is the first summer where they’ve had the flexibility to work remotely or hybrid during the summer – or at least the first time being able to do so during a summer not impacted by COVID lockdowns (like last summer).
The result is that people have a bit more flexibility to enjoy time with their families and friends while still being more productive, just by nature of having the freedom to shift their schedules as needed to optimize their time.
Flexibility is a word we’ve been hearing and seeing a lot recently, and you’ll see the trend continue through this week’s news. So with that, let’s take a look at this week’s top five stories about remote & hybrid work:
1) Forcing employees to return to the office? Prepare to face the consequences (Fortune)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love an article that starts with a good, no-BS opener.
“Employees do not have to be together in an office five days a week to do their jobs well.”
Such a simple statement, but one that apparently still needs to be repeated as many companies are pursuing the path of eliminating remote work and forcing people back into the office.
As this Fortune article highlights, though, the organizations considering this approach should be very wary of how it will be received.
“We’ve all read or heard about the “Great Resignation,” where employees are quitting their jobs at an unprecedented rate for more favorable work situations, or simply taking some time off. According to a recent report by Monster.com, as many as 95% of employees are considering changing jobs.”
“Of those looking for new jobs, half of people currently working remotely say if their current company does not offer remote work options long term, they’ll look for a job at a company that does.”
So what insights does the article share in terms of keeping people happy and productive?
- Employees will be more fulfilled when faced with fewer trade-offs
- A hybrid workplace will help retain and recruit top talent
- Maintain culture outside of the office
The article has a lot of good stats, and it gives some good food for thought for any execs thinking about “canceling” remote and hybrid work policies. Check out the full article here.
2) Flexible Work Is Not a New Concept, It’s Just Evolving (Entrepreneur)
There’s that magic word again – flexible.
“Now, with the possibility of a return to the office on the horizon, but with nearly two-thirds of US workers wanting to remain working from home (according to Gallup), organizations need to develop long-term hybrid work strategies that meet the needs of both employees and businesses.
In determining these approaches, leaders should keep one concept at or near the top of the priority list: flexibility.”
And here’s the thing I appreciated the most about this article: It actually addresses the fact that the concept and practice of remote work are NOT new, and has been around for a long time pre-pandemic.
“Remote work is no longer an added benefit, but a requirement for a happy and productive workforce, and we actually have ample precedents to draw upon; a number of industries have, over decades, enjoyed the benefits of flexible work.”
This article provides a really good, concise history lesson on flexible work, and how this isn’t just something to be done out of necessity – it should be adopted simply because it works better and has great benefits to the organization and its people as a whole.
Read the full article here.
3) Google Calendar adds RSVP options for attending events virtually (The Verge)
It’s one thing to track the various policies that companies are adopting around remote & hybrid work. But another great indicator of whether or not a trend is here to stay is to take a look at whether or not companies are actively developing and rolling out new technologies to enable those new trends.
To that end, Google is the latest to announce some new functionality that is specifically targeted at better enabling the hybrid workspace:
“ To accommodate hybrid workplaces, Google plans to expand RSVP options over the next few weeks to let users say whether they’ll attend an event virtually in Google Calendar invites.
Virtual attendees will specify their status through a new drop-down menu that is viewable by the host and other guests in the event details. The company hopes that listing how people plan to attend an event will help organizers know what to expect, and presumably accommodate attendees who won’t physically be in the room.”
To learn more about the new functionality coming to your Google Calendar soon, check out the full article from The Verge here.
4) Slack rolls out new features aimed at a digital-first way of working (TechRepublic)
Sticking with the theme of new product capabilities and how they indicate just how big the shift to hybrid work is, check out this news from Slack:
“Slack unveiled a series of features Wednesday designed for a digital-first way of working.
Slack Huddles—described as a “lightweight,” audio-first way of communicating. Huddles is designed to let users create and share video, voice and screen recordings more easily. Users can record and upload short videos or voice clips with screen sharing that others can watch and respond to either synchronously or asynchronously.
Slack Atlas—an enterprise directory to connect to colleagues. Slack Atlas enhances profiles with dynamic information that includes a company’s organizational structure, employee start dates and custom fields. It integrates with systems including Workday, so profile data automatically populates and is always up to date.
Scheduled Send—the ability to schedule when a user wants to send messages. Instead of having daily meetings, Scheduled Send is designed to let someone record their ideas and contribute to the conversation. When a recording is shared in Slack, anyone can watch on their own time.”
All of these new features are not only aimed at enabling hybrid work, but they’re also primarily aimed at enabling efficient asynchronous work, which is very interesting. GitLab has been preaching the benefits of “async” for years.
To learn more about the new features, check out the full article here.
5) Videoconferencing Challenge Looming (Bob O’Donnell, TECHnalysis Research)
If you don’t already follow analyst Bob O’Donnell on LinkedIn, do yourself a favor and do so now. You can easily do this by going to the full LinkedIn article here, then clicking “Subscribe” in the upper right.
In this article, Bob brings his typical in-depth analysis to the topic of videoconferencing. Do yourself a favor and read the whole article, but this passage in particular stuck out to me:
“While some might argue that the concerns I’ve raised may not be as big an issue as I’ve made them out to be, remember that video-based meetings are an essential part of the whole hybrid work model. If companies can’t successfully support large numbers of these meetings, the entire hybrid work model falls apart. We survived through the pandemic because, as frustrating as they might occasionally have been, video-based calls worked and allowed us to collaborate remotely. If the infrastructure to enable these calls isn’t widely and robustly available in the office, then the hybrid work model will fail—miserably so—and organizations will have little choice but to make hard decisions about their work environments and work policies.”
Now, beyond Bob’s excellent analysis, I was also captivated by some of the comments on his article (another benefit of this being posted on LinkedIn – an actively commenting user base). For example, this comment from Geroge Anders:
“ I’ve worked in a split-geo world for the past four years. That’s meant many hybrid meetings even in the Before Times. Typically, meeting-runners in NY or Mountain View CA would invite a few extra participants from San Francisco, London or other locations.
The good news is that even with existing technology, it all pretty much works. We don’t quite get the easy back and forth of having everyone in the same room. But meeting-runners are pretty good at inviting feedback and fresh ideas from the remote-location people periodically. And there’s an art to claiming the speaker’s chair from a remote location — in an instant — when you need it.
Still, what’s sufficient for a project-update meeting isn’t going to be good enough for a full-strength ideation meeting — or for genuine team-bonding. And getting meeting etiquette right will be a constant work in progress.”
Check out the full LinkedIn article (and the comments) here.