Remote Work Calibration

by Matt Poepsel, PhD

Now before the pandemic, we saw that a very small percentage of people 6% work remotely at least part time. Now, this is a trend that was increasing, but it was increasing pretty slowly. During the pandemic, obviously, everything changed. And we saw the at the height of the pandemic, many more people more than 25%, across all jobs worked remotely at least part time. Now, again, that’s all jobs. If you think about knowledge workers, we saw as high as more than two thirds of people working remotely. And now what we find is that a lot of those people who can work remotely are choosing to continue to do so.

So this has led to a rise of what we call hybrid teams, a hybrid team example, for example, is when a lot of these knowledge workers, even though they could return to the office are saying, you know, I got to commute, I’ve still got kids to put at school, I found I can be productive remotely, there’s a lot of reasons that I’m going to remain fully or at least partially remote. So at this point, a lot of the employers also what we found took advantage of the national out of state workers internationally, we see the same thing, which is how we are able to access a candidate pool that’s much larger, that’s something that that employers took advantage of. At the same time, a lot of these employers, when you think about it, have not localized their pay for a given position based on where that employee lives.

So in the United States, if you have an employee that works in San Francisco, it’s very expensive. Same job could be working in Arkansas, in the middle of the country, a lot less lower cost of living, haven’t necessarily normalized the pay scale based on where that person is. And even if you did, what if they move, you’re gonna change your pay again, like there’s some things that have to shake out. And this is my point about reconciliation is we started to accelerate our ability to support remote and out of state workers, etc. But we haven’t necessarily figured out what all the implications of this are. What I say is that many teams are now hybridized, or hybrid, where you’ve got five in the room five in the zoom. And that’s really hard when it comes to being a leader and trying to manage a team where you have this sort of a mixed environment. And now what we’re finding is that a lot of teams are feeling this intense interest to get together in person IRL, as it gets set up for the social bonding, the connection, some of the traditional things that teams have always been able to experience and benefit.

So the team leaders are asking questions of the leadership saying, Can I find my people in? If so, how often? Can we come in once a quarter? Like, can we have some events so we can really start to get all of our teaming together? We’ve hired a bunch of new people, we’ve never been in the same room together? Well, this is leading the CFOs of the world to say, how are we going to pay for all this, we have not accounted for this level of teaming and this type of interaction in our financial models. And yeah, remote work is great for a lot of reasons. But there’s these unintended consequences and side effects that we’re really starting to process right now. Now, talent optimization, of course, to the rescue.

Design is where team based activities live. And if we recall, when we think about recognizing each team member strengths, maybe we can get people together in the same room. And if so, when we participate in these design activities, we’re going to have better levels of teaming and performance, and ultimately a better impact on the bottom line. If we can’t afford to bring people together for all the teams inside of an organization. Well, maybe we can do some of these things in a remote way, and still provide some of that teaming benefit, and that social bonding and the things that they’re asking for, at a much more economic rate. So in either case, talent optimization is gonna help us do that.

Recognizing strengths, great way to get to know one another. It’s outside of the day to day activities of the business. How about team dynamics, understanding differences between ourselves, and how to negotiate those differences, understand and appreciate one another’s differences? This is a huge thing that we can do as well. How about viewing the team’s strategic intent through a talent lens? What are we being asked to do? What are the types of human activities and characteristics and, and values and all these kinds of things that are going to help us do this type of work surface those things for remote team or an on site team? If you’re able to bring people in on occasion?

Then these are the types of things that can help the team work better together? How about comparing team capabilities versus the work to be done if we need a lot of innovative risk taking work? What sort of behaviors do we need to introduce on the team to celebrate failures, for example, it’s a way to match the behaviors and our capabilities to the work that we’re being asked to do. And finally, talent optimization and its design aptitude says that we need to establish culture, this can absolutely be done at distance. Even if you’ve got five in the room and five on the Zoom, it can be done.

But it has to be done intentionally, deliberately. And it’s something that absolutely can happen. So those are just some examples of what we’re seeing in terms of remote work. It’s very early days, it may not feel like it may feel like we’ve been remote forever. But the reality is that it’s going to take years for this to shake out. Talent optimization won’t lead you astray. It’s a way that we can make sure that teams work at their best. So if you have any questions about this, I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn. If you’ve got a suggestion for a future talent optimization minute at Love to hear that too thanks so much and enjoy the rest of your day.