Our experience with virtual work has proven that in many cases, it is a far superior alternative to the traditional workplace setting. Operational and energy costs are reduced significantly. The physical footprint of the office is considerably diminished, saving money on pricey office leases. Our environment and quality of life improved as team members avoided hours of commuting to and from their workplace. One 2019 study published in The Journal of Business and Psychology noted that employees achieved increased levels of performance when working from home as opposed to the company office. Finally, employees were happier, resulting in fewer sick days and less turnover.
Hence the challenges that our leaders face. For much of the last 18 months, organizations have succeeded in transitioning to a virtual environment and still meeting their organizational mission. As workers return to more traditional settings, some are pushing back on their supervisors. They are arguing that if they were able to accomplish their jobs in a virtual environment, it is not necessary to force them back into a physical workspace. Some are going as far as to request special accommodations for being able to work from home permanently.
So how do managers and supervisors best prepare for the future that is now? What strategies must be employed in order allow telework to continue where it makes sense and bring our teams back to the office safely when needed?