Necessity has driven innovation and the reimagining of work over the last nearly two years. Where we once said something was not possible, we are finding that we can do that thing and do it successfully. However, change is hardly unanimously embraced. Usually, it’s an employee who bucks change, but now it is leaders who are bucking the change. The future of work looks much different than it did in February 2020.
New technology and its wide acceptance has made it easier to do most work from anywhere and at any time. The typical 9-5 is no longer a necessity. Workers believe working from home or remotely can work. However, some CEOs say that working from home is inefficient and harmful to company culture. So, this begs the questions, “how?” and “why?”. The answers: Because. The workplace has spent the last five decades findings ways to implement culture. That type of entrenchment doesn’t disappear overnight.
The nature of work and how work is done has been evolving for decades. Much like the industrial revolution moved the production of goods into large factories and centralized locations, the COVID-19 pandemic has decentralized the location of workers. However, organizations have invested time and resources over the last 50 years to make the centralized office a necessity. It has become a beacon of what it means to ‘go to work’. However, advancements in technology have made remote collaboration and teamwork easy and effective. No longer are workers constrained by the archaic structures that hold up the walls of the office. What makes this remote work revolution conceptually different from the changes experienced during the industrial revolution? Loss of power.
Loss of Power
The major challenge to remote work from those in charge of organizations is the damage to the organizational culture. How can you have a company culture if no one is meeting in person or you cannot walk up to someone’s desk and ask them a question? How can you have a company culture if you aren’t able to look someone in the eye? These questions hit home for organizational decision makers. But what if we ask: why can’t the future of organizational culture look different than what it has for 50 years? The loss of power and control leaders feel with remote work are causing them to hold their ground, but workers are pushing back.
You could surmise that one of the barriers to leaders embracing this remote work revolution is that they may lack the skills to manage a remote workforce. This is understandable. So, the challenge is not getting people back into the office but getting leaders the requisite skills to promote and support employees working remotely. Leaders need a new skill set to be successful in this new work paradigm. We acknowledge that not every type of work is conducive to remote work, but these are the exception.