Covid-19 has pushed us 10 years into the future. The crisis forced us to stay apart and then highlighted just how much work could be done remotely. Before March 2020, video conferencing existed, the most valuable companies in the world relied on code and media as their main revenue drivers, e-commerce was steadily gaining in popularity as digital natives entered the marketplace with more and more purchasing power.
And yet, it was the pandemic that forced us to rely on those means. Sixteen months of operating this way has driven adoption and ingrained new habits. The world has changed and perhaps no change will be as disruptive as the way we work.
In early 2020, not a single CEO was worried about the impact of remote work. In 2021, 51% of surveyed CEOs in the annual Predictive Index benchmarking report said working well remotely was their top priority. And with good reason.
66% of Canadians said they want a hybrid option, 82% said they would quit their job if they were forced back to the office and their commute was longer than 15 minutes.
Now organizations will have to choose between in-office, fully remote and hybrid models. And as we choose, so too will the people in our charge. As business owners and leaders, we are about to face the collision of certainty, choice and control.
The pandemic caused uncertainty. Those with a job generally stayed put. As the end of the pandemic draws near and as the vaccine gives everyone a healthy dose of stability, the fear of uncertainty will give way and many will look to change everything associated with the lockdown, including their jobs. They will take stock of what matters to them, reassess and look to make changes. When they start to look, they will have even more choice.
You will choose how your organization will operate going forward and then they will choose if they want to be a part of it. High performers will have many more choices. The geographical barriers that once eliminated options have been largely removed for remote opportunities. They can enjoy the lifestyle of Atlantic Canada and ply their trade anywhere in the globe.
A note of caution. You cannot back your way into a choice or choose the hybrid model by consequence. It is the model that requires the most intention. The remote and in-office put options put everyone on the same page.
Most studies in North America suggest that how we work has been forever altered. For business owners, the next 24 months will be more difficult to navigate than the previous 16 months. Some experts predict more than 53% turnover before the end of 2023. There are three reasons, two of which you have little to no control over (but you can influence). And one that you need to get right.
- Last year was hard on everyone and, as a result, many desire a fresh start. That includes their job.
- Opportunity is everywhere – literally. Remote work opportunities have skyrocketed and the war for talent is spreading across the globe. That means local markets will need to work harder to retain local talent.
- Are you fully in the office, remote or a hybrid model? Whatever you choose, it will be a change for most of your people and you will need to be intentional about it. There is no right answer, however the mistake many owners will make is underestimating the move to the hybrid model and its particular influence on productivity.
With every challenge, comes opportunity. It is your responsibility to understand the needs of your organization, your people, your single points of failure and your organizational risks.
Connect one-on-one with those in your charge. Get to know them a little more personally. How are they doing? What are their plans? Most times a meaningful conversation, without distraction, will give you a pretty solid idea of what they are thinking and feeling.
One business leader said bluntly that he knows mass migration is about to happen. His goal, after he connects with his people, is to be in a position to win the retrade. You’re going to choose a fully on-site, fully remote or hybrid model. Your decision is going to appeal to some and not to others.
There is no right answer, but there is a wrong answer: confusion. The hybrid model does not mean wing it. And it is the most difficult model to get right. What will you be on the other side?
This article originally appeared in the July/August edition of Business Voice Magazine.