In the last couple of months, we all witnessed how work-from-home (WFH) emerged as a big savior for some of the industries. Both the proponents and the naysayers of WFH saw it working beautifully at all hierarchy levels and functions in the time of crisis. It helped strike a fine balance between economy and survival.
However, the make-shift solutions built during the crisis, focus majorly on just keeping the lights on. As the environment changes and normalcy resumes, such solutions start giving diminishing returns. When the activity recommences and the available options grow, so do the distractions and the urge to go back to the original.
The convenience, the time-savings, the cost-efficiencies, a much-lower carbon footprint and the ESG credits make WFH too compelling a proposition to limit to only a COVID-19 phenomenon. The pain of a 40 hour to-and-fro flight for a 30 min client meeting or of a daily 2 hour commute for a distance of 10 KMs, and the personal, financial and environmental costs incurred on such activities should no longer be ignored when there is a viable and effective alternative.
There are however real challenges that need to be addressed to make WFH not just a new normal but a highly effective means to win over competitors.
Organizations that build on the recent success of remote working and frame a comprehensive and holistic strategy for redefined work-spaces, will create winning propositions for employees (convenience, experience), clients (cost, productivity, business continuity) and society at large.
For years, the best employers have worked hard to design employee-friendly and highly creative office spaces. It is time now to replicate the efforts and create an equally differentiated virtual work environment. Organizations will have to re-architect their policies, systems, tools, infrastructure, security, rewards & recognition, engagement, communication and all other bells and whistles to embed the elements and principles of EPIC – Engaging experience, Productivity, Integrity and Culture in the context of the redefined work-spaces.
Organizations that can better or maintain the same levels of engagement, productivity, integrity and ability to propagate their culture, the intrinsic advantages of remote working will create a winning edge for their businesses. And as we strive for this, the race is on to extend the list of superlative paradoxes:
World’s most popular media company creates no content;
World’s most valuable retailer owns no stock;
with a new one…
World’s best employer owns no office space!
Pawan Borar is a Managing Partner with Zeolyt Ventures.