Building Teams Should Be The Focus For WFH Management

Earlier this year, The Economist published a special report on the Future of Work. The report analysed issues such as the Covid pandemic, automation, and government policy, but one important area of focus was working from home and hybrid work.

The report cited research by three economists, José Maria Barrero, Nick Bloom and Steven Davis, who surveyed thousands of American workers to ask how they wanted to work after the pandemic. The research found: “the average employee would like to work from home nearly half the time. Employers are less keen, but their expectation that a fifth of working time will be spent at home (one day a week) is a big change from the previous norm. It also presents a huge opportunity for office-based workers.”

In recent months I have seen several similar studies and the focus is usually on the difficulty of managing hybrid workers. A typical question will focus on the value of being at the office in-person if your colleagues are working from home.

The difference with this report from The Economist though is that they got to the heart of the matter. The big difference with everyone permanently working from home, or partially working from home in a hybrid arrangement, is how to build and manage teams.

Some investment banks and other professional service companies have claimed that their work processes require in-person employees, but the vast majority of companies across all industries have learned that working from home is possible – and is often preferable. For this reason, it is essential that HR leaders and managers understand that their workforce management processes must evolve.

Every company will have different plans and a different approach – especially if going down the hybrid path – but I think there are a few golden rules that managers need to remember:

  • Delivery not time: presenteeism does not work when managing remotely. Your focus is on guiding team team members, communicating clearly, setting expectations, then measuring them based on deliverables – not time at a desk. Performance management needs a complete review to embrace remote workers.
  • No twin track: it’s likely that everyone from the CEO down will be spending some time at home, some in the office, and some in shared meeting spaces. There is no room for a group that predominantly works from the office and another group that rarely leaves home. Everyone on the team has access to the same information and opportunities.
  • Blended communications: you need better and more open communication systems so teams can use technology to really feel like a team and this needs to embrace social conversation as well as business related matters.

Building a remote team is a very different process to building and leading an in-person team. You need to think carefully about the recruitment process, create clear and open guidelines and expectations, engage regularly, and give the team reliable communication systems that can draw them together.

Sensée has always worked with almost all of our people working remotely from home so we have experience of how this is as much about corporate culture as it is about guidelines and management process. Managers need to understand that building a remote team successfully is one of the most important components in making a modern organisation operate effectively.

Sensée expands senior management team as interest in home-based CX Outsourcing builds momentum

Sensée is pleased to announce several senior appointments in response to a significant growth in demand for WFH Customer Experience (CX) Outsourcing in 2021.

Simon Hunter has joined the company as Chief Commercial Officer. Simon is an experienced sales and marketing leader with over 15 years’ experience within the CX industry at multiple CX outsourcing businesses including Woven, Hinduja Global Solutions, Ant Marketing and VOICE Marketing.

Sensée is also pleased to announce the appointment of two new Service Delivery Directors (SDDs). Tracy Marks brings a wealth of experience within utilities, insurance and outsourcing from recent roles at iSupply Energy, Ageas and Comdata; while Dan Philp has been internally promoted to the SDD role having previously been a Service Delivery Manager on the BUPA account. Before joining Sensée, Dan enjoyed a 30 year career with NatWest Bank.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the home has been the predominant workplace for contact centre advisors, managers and support colleagues” said Mark Walton, CEO of Sensée. “As businesses have come to realise the benefits it can bring, demand for flexible work-from-home personnel has significantly increased. We are delighted to welcome Simon, Tracy and Dan to our senior management team to help Sensée meet its client promises by delivering high quality service to their customers.”

Pic (L to R): Simon Hunter, Tracy Marks, Dan Philp

Over Half Of All Knowledge Workers Worldwide Will Be Working Remotely by End of 2021

Gartner has predicted that the continued popularity of remote work will drive the 2021 shipment of PCs and tablets to over 500 million units for the first time ever. It’s astonishing to see just how quickly the entire world has become convinced that remote work can be a valuable ongoing strategy and not just an emergency reaction to the Covid pandemic.

The predictions from Gartner suggest that by the end of this year, around 51% of all knowledge workers will be working remotely, usually from home. This is in contrast with a figure of 27% from 2019. Gartner also believes that remote workers will represent 32% of all employees worldwide by the end of 2021 – up from 17% in 2019. 

The pace of change is extremely fast and I think that it is extremely interesting to see this last figure – a third of all employees worldwide will be working remotely by the end of 2021. Consider how improbable that would have sounded back in 2019?

Gartner is defining knowledge workers as those involved in knowledge-intensive industries, such as writers, accountants, or engineers. Their research includes fully remote workers as well as hybrid, so some of these workers will be visiting an office or client site, but they will not be working Monday to Friday from the same office.

The research indicates that company leaders need to be careful how they plan for a post-Covid future. 39% of knowledge workers said that they would quit if their company insists on a full return to permanently working in an office without the option for location flexibility.

This Gartner study shows that most organisations have been sufficiently convinced by their pandemic work-from-home experience to continue offering flexibility on working locations – at least as a hybrid option, if not completely remote.

This demonstrates what SensĂ©e has understood for many years – working from home is real work and fully remote workers can be integrated into teams that are highly effective. But the point about knowledge workers now demanding flexibility and threatening to leave their employer if it is not granted is very interesting.

The workers that suddenly went home because of the pandemic just had to manage in the best way possible. Very few companies had a pre-existing strategy that allowed them to manage the situation. We are now approaching two years since the beginning of the pandemic and the world is in a very different situation.

Executives that want to maintain a flexible environment for their knowledge workers really need to think carefully now. They need to entirely change how teams are created and managed to successfully integrate flexible remote working into the heart of their business. Gartner focused much of their commentary on the huge boost that remote working has given to tablet and laptop sales, but managing remote teams is about much more than sending people home with a laptop.

With so many knowledge workers now working remotely, executives need a more detailed plan for how to deliver successful remote working in 2022.

Click here to read more from the Gartner Future of Work Resource Centre