Empty home office

Flex Work: The Need for a Long View in a Remote Workspace

By Dale Lawrence

While most leaders have adopted a plan of not bringing every employee back to the physical workplace, what is unclear is “how long?”, “how is this impacting my strategy?” and “what impact will this have on my business, partners and customers?”. Without a clear understanding of the long-term impacts of Coronavirus on society and specifically the economy, many leaders are unable to project far into the future business planning. Not only does this impact budgetary planning for capital and operating expenses, it changes how leaders look to growth, partnerships, supply chains, business improvements and customer experience initiatives.

In fact, a BBC poll of the top 50 companies in the UK, 24 firms had made no plans to bring employees into the office and another 20 businesses had gradual plans for return to the office with socially distancing changes. These decisions will have a huge impact on their long-term capabilities and business recovery.

Impact on Budget

In our lifetime, we haven’t seen this much disruption to the economy, society and health. With businesses being challenged daily to weather this storm, we all have seen a massive readjustment to any financial planning and corporate spend.

The path forward? Look to your internal processes for quick wins and rapid results. In my experience, most operations have multiple areas that had savings available before the pandemic. A quick assessment will uncover where the business is hemorrhaging resources and workforce capacity. Often, these savings offset any expenses needed to locate and improve.

Impact on supply chain and other business partners

Major companies, especially within the technology industry, cultivated a pre-COVID environment of comfort for its’ workforce. Often including multiple free and healthy onsite food options, exercise areas, collaborative office workspaces, bike sharing for travelling between buildings and in some cases, a network of free buses for employee commutes makes social distancing a real challenge. Also, with many companies announcing remote work until mid-2021, this creates a massive impact not only to their employees, but an even greater one to the army of contracted service providers (e.g. food services, security, janitorial, tech support, procurement, learning and development etc.). Obviously, the decision to work from home has an impact beyond businesses.

The path forward? Work with your partners to coordinate your strategy. Like how the Lean supply chains have provided mutual savings, by working together, all the organizations can benefit and deliver results faster. Bring in seasoned facilitators to align your combined operations and long after the current situation is over, your business partnership and combined operations will be stronger than ever.

Impact on Operational Effectiveness

The organization is complex, even if what you produce is simple. There are many levels of detail that when overlapped, create a system that is hard to unravel. When the pandemic hit, most companies sent the majority of office-based employees’ home with whatever portable devices that were available. This had an impact on the effectiveness of productivity. The longer that this occurs without looking for improvements, the more the inefficiencies become the way to do work.

The path forward? Perform a fast assessment on the core work along with interviews with key front-line employees. Look for gaps created since the workplace shift and especially determine existing gaps that become worse. Also, assess the company metrics and determine if any measurements are less accurate due to the change in work. Hold a series of rapid workshops with experienced process facilitators to brainstorm quick wins and immediately implement changes.

At Propulo Consulting, we partner with you to improve the world of work. Our team has the expertise to help your operations are effective and efficient while ensuring the it is aligned to your customer’s expectations. Please visit our website or contact us for the latest insights and research into flexible work.


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