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Publication Title | Remote Work: Navigating the Flexible Workplace

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For the companies that do decide to use remote working as a strategic lever, there are five areas they can consider to ensure workplace flexibility is embedded into the work culture:
1) Consider flexibility as a strategic business imperative
Workplace flexibility is a strategic lever, not an employee perk. Companies such as American Express are embedding workplace flexibility and remote working into their culture. American Express’ Blue Work program has delivered not only improved worker productivity but also saved between $10-$15 million annually in real estate costs.
2) Offer training for both virtual workers and virtual managers
Companies that are seeing business impacts in workplace flexibility have designed policies and training to prepare both virtual employees and virtual managers to succeed in the new world of work. For example, at Johns Hopkins University, online workplace flexibility training for managers includes 3 modules: Module 1: Understanding Flexible Work Arrangements, Module 2: Becoming a Flexible Manager, and Module 3: Planning for Success. Through engaging exercises and assessments, this training is a valuable resource for both managers and employees. In addition, if remote workers do return to the office, it is important to offer the proper training and tools for them to adjust. An issue when having longtime remote workers come back to work onsite is that they can sometimes struggle to adjust to working in teams after operating on their own. Managers must realize the importance of inculcating them back into an office culture to enable success.
3) Invest in the training and usage of state of the art digital technologies to stay agile
Research shows companies where remote working “works” have a culture of online collaboration and invest in and train workers to use a range of real time digital technologies such as Skype for Business, Google Hangouts, Yammer, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. The implementation of these tools is especially beneficial for teams dispersed globally. Employees who are trained in how to use these digital tools can collaborate online despite working in different locations.
4) Craft robust communication
Creating a flexible workplace policy is just the beginning. For many, working remotely is a change in management issue and must be treated as such. Additionally, workers are often confused as to their company’s workplace flexibility policy. According to the Future Workplace Multiple Generations @ Work Survey, less than half of all workers (44%) are aware of the workplace flexibility/telecommuting policy offered by their company. For a remote work program to succeed, its components must be communicated to and understood by everyone involved. Peer to peer recognition and acknowledging the achievements of everyone no matter where they are located is also an important component of transparent and successful communication.

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