The Future of Remote Work
We have experienced the biggest experiment in WORK over the last 18+ months. People have worked remotely not only from home but literally from anywhere. WFH and WFA (Work from Anywhere) have become a part of regular vocabulary for most people. What are the implications of this for all of us?
Chris Herd had a wonderful series of tweets (tweetstorm) based on his conversations with 3000+ teams. I have reproduced some of them below and linked it to what my personal experiences and conversations with many leaders have been. I then tie it back with how it relates to our industry/profession.
His first point is “HQs are finished: Companies will cut their commercial office space by 50-70%. They will allow every worker to work from home 2-4 days a week and come into the office 1-2 days a week.”
I am not sure whether all HQs are finished but this observation is exactly what I am witnessing during my conversations with many leaders. In fact, many are stuck with leases that they cannot yet exit; many have renegotiated rents and are waiting for lock-in periods to get over. On the personal front, we had done an internal survey within our organization and had exactly done this based on our team’s needs and our future requirements. We have given up 50-70% of our workspace. Our team members work from home 2-4 days a week and come to the office for collaboration, teamwork, and fun. We have had the culture of remote work since 2005 so while this was not new for us culturally, doing it at scale was a matter of making a clear decision. Giving up office space is never an easy decision. I personally experienced this emotional pain, but it was something that had to be done. So, we did it. We reimagined our entire client experience, talent strategy, leadership, and organizational design to position our firm for the future.
On the other hand, many within our industry still have this belief that we have to do everything face to face and thus need every team member to come to office. This is a limiting belief and knocking it off will unleash a lot of potential within your organization.
His second point was “Fully distributed: 30% of the companies we talk to are getting rid of the office entirely and going remote first. Companies doing this have seen their workers decentralize rapidly, leaving expensive cities to be closer to home.”
We adopted this remote-first mantra like some of the finest companies across the world have. A surprising example that proves this point is that of a conservative pharmaceutical company that wanted all of its sales team members in office. The sales executives had moved on to their respective hometowns across the country. They refused to come back to Mumbai or their respective locations saying that work was happening brilliantly and in fact they were working better (and more). The management had to relent.
There are 5 powerful reasons for going remote.
a. Access Talent: Chris says that “the first reason many are going remote first is simple – it lets them hire more talented people. Rather than hiring the best person in a 30-mile radius of the office, they can hire the best person in the world for every role”
I would add that going remote-first is also a great way to attract talent. Right now, this might be considered a benefit, but the day is not far when this will become a mandatory feature of hiring real talent.
b. Time Saved, and Better Energy: Team Members can save a lot of time that was wasted on commuting earlier. Saving on commuting has the added benefit of conserving energy. Thus, team members have far more energy to tackle the challenging tasks better than before and can be far more productive.
c. Cost Efficiency: Remote work lets an organization be far more cost efficient and cost savings in rent, and travel are huge. A large technology company saw its travel cost reduce almost 95% resulting in a savings of $37 million dollars. This Indian Technology firm that serves global clients eliminated night shifts too and adopted a remote first approach. The savings in electricity consumption by the simple act of switching off lights the whole night and for 3 days a week has resulted in some massive savings for the organization.
d. Better Client Acquisition: This point might not be very intuitive at the outset, but this is one of the powerful benefits of going remote. Don’t believe me yet. Going remote is a mindset and once you get into this mindset and start believing in this truly, the world becomes your playground for the best clients. While I believe in the power of niches and advocate it strongly for everyone, niche does not mean geography anymore. Most distributors and advisory firms are used to having clients in their geographical area, but this is no longer true. Futuristic firms will go after the best clients in every geography and no geography is safe anymore. We are not safe anymore. Thinking otherwise would not only be naïve but expensive too. Thus, adopting a remote work mindset along with a world class client experience will not only protect your firm but also be a source of competitive advantage for you.
e. Better Valuations: The key driver of valuation is not about your past achievements, but it is about the future growth of your organization and how have you positioned the firm for the future (not to mention better financial metrics and operational efficiency). Most firms in our industry and profession can enhance their valuation by 3X not by adding a single client but by simply redesigning their organization and client experience.
Remote work is here to stay whether we like it or not. We still have time to intentionally design our organization and position it for the future before it’s TOO LATE.
Do you agree with this or disagree?
I would love to hear your thoughts.