This Week in Remote Work – Jan. 29th Edition

Welcome to This Week in Remote Work, where we distill and summarize the key points from the top five articles that caught our attention this week. As always, we’d love to hear what other Remote Work articles you read this week, so please share those in the comments below.

Let’s dig into this week’s news.

1) Reimagining the C-suite for a digital-first world (Fortune)

This is a really interesting read about how the shift to remote work (and even the shift to hybrid work) is going to require more than just adaptation at the technology level – it’s going to be needed at the C-level. It provides a really good overview of the way existing C-level execs will need to change, and how altogether new C-level positions (Chief Remote Officer, etc.) will be needed as well. 

It also drives home some of the trends we’ve been discussing for a while, including how many people will want to work from home permanently vs. how many will adopt a hybrid remote/office model. 

The pandemic has proven that we don’t need to rely on the physical office. Companies of all sizes and all industries have been successful working primarily remotely. And knowledge workers are not looking back. A recent Future Forum study found that only 12% want to return to full-time office work, while 72% favor a hybrid remote-office model. 

And perhaps the most poignant point, which we couldn’t agree with more:

Offices won’t disappear—meeting in-person will always be important for building social connection—but they no longer will define how people work.

Often times we hear from people that remote work is over-hyped, and that despite what people say, they’re going to be excited to go back to the office as soon as the pandemic is over. On the second point – that some people will be excited to go back to the office – we completely agree. But survey after survey, study after study continually shows us that many people will never return to an office. And that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Remote will work for some, office will work for others – and hybrid will be the Goldilocks “just right” situation for most.

2) Has the Pandemic Transformed the Office Forever? (The New Yorker )

Before you skip this one, it’s not just another article talking about whether or not we need offices anymore. This one takes a really unique approach to this topic by illustrating through the eyes of a large global advertising agency in San Francisco how their organization approached the question of whether or not they still needed their offices:

In San Francisco, Corns’s decision was relatively simple: “We said, ‘Let’s pull ourselves out of this lease, go fully virtual, and treat the office like we would treat any client project, where we start from a blank slate.’ ”

The article goes on to show the process they went through after that, including constant surveying of their employees’ experiences over time as the pandemic drudged on. 

“Now that we are successfully working in a virtual world, what should the future post-covid office look like, and how do you blend the physical and the digital in this new paradigm?” Everyone said that they missed seeing their colleagues in person, but very few workers envisaged returning to the office five days a week. One to three days was more appealing.

It’s really worth a read if you’re looking for a blueprint of how to make a change, monitor, and restructure your post-pandemic office in a way that most benefits the way your employees work.

3) Okta Hires Dynamic Work Lead as It Goes Remote First (The Org)

Following the article above about the importance of new exec hires to help focus on the transition to (and ongoing optimization of) remote work, Okta has hired a Head of Remote work as it transitions to what it calls “Remote First.”

The hire is part of Okta’s 2-year plan to transition to become a remote-first company through its Dynamic Work model, which allows employees to be located anywhere but still have access to the same benefits of an office worker. In her new role, Fisher will rethink the San Francisco-based company’s employment policies, office design, tech, and the ways its employees collaborate.

“We’re really considering how we support employees working cross-functionally in whichever way works the best for them, in a way that they can deliver the best products and services to our clients and our customers,” Fisher said in conversation with Business Insider.

All signs – from industry analysts, our customer conversations, to industry surveys & studies – point to this model becoming the norm across organizations worldwide. And I think Okta’s commitment to this at the exec level is a fantastic example of how organizations can invest in the talent and leadership needed to not just survive the shift to remote, but to thrive because of it.

4) Optimize Your Continued Remote Work Plan (Neverware blog)

One of our technology partners, Neverware (who are now a part of the Chrome Enterprise team at Google), had a great post on their blog this week about how Chrome can help you optimize security & productivity for your remote workers. 

One of the things I liked most about this post was the checklist they provided up front to determine whether or not the post was even going to be relevant to you:

How do you know if it’s time for a transformation?

  • Slow or outdated technology hinders productivity
  • Security is costly and/or ineffective 
  • Remote collaboration is disjointed and difficult 
  • New software is incompatible with current devices 
  • Hardware capabilities limit growth plans 
  • Time is wasted on manual workarounds and fixes

So if any of those bullets above sounds familiar to you and your environment, click through and give that post a read for some good tips.

5) 2021 Technology Preview – A pivotal year in IT in preparation for a post-pandemic ‘new normal’ (S&P Global Market Intelligence)

This is a great 2021 technology preview report issued by the 451 Research analysts, who are now part of the S&P Global team (which was a huge get for S&P in terms of boosting their analyst smarts). They start out by refreshingly addressing the obvious, which is that 2020’s predictions largely got blown up by COVID-19. And they strike a great tone and balance in terms of what their 2021 preview hopes to accomplish:

So, with the benefit of all that ‘2020 hindsight,’ what can we expect from 2021, except to expect the unexpected? Here we present an overview of some of the key themes that we expect to drive the industry narrative over the next 12 months and beyond. As with last year, it’s not intended to be exhaustive; instead, it offers a flavor of the insight our analyst team presents in the collected Technology & Business Insight 2021 Trends reports, which span all nine of our research channels.

There’s literally something in this report for everyone, and despite the length and density of data, it’s a quick read. Check it out. 

Thanks again for joining us for This Week in Remote Work. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles in the comments below, as well as suggestions for other good reads we should check out.