Work from home opportunities

Working from home provides a unique opportunity for progressive employers

Covid-19 has upended many businesses and forced employers to be agile in adapting their ways of working. Amongst the most crucial shifts has been the one of working from home becoming a rule rather than an exception.

It is becoming clear that the progressive employers of the next generation will be those that leverage Work From Home (WFM) as a way to win the war for talent.

WFH used to be considered an expensive perk that only the richest, fastest growing tech companies could afford. Fearing lack of control and concerns over lessened human interaction, old economy players steered clear. Subordinates were, after all, meant to be routinely directed and overseen by supervisors.

Then the pandemic struck and all of a sudden, every company, new and old economy, big and small, was thrown into forced WFH “smart-working” practices.

Completely unprepared, most companies have faced the new situation with a shortsighted firefighting approach.

Very few have though noticed the following:

  • WFH and forced smart-working (Covid 19 like) are very different. WFH is a proactive and strategic move made by progressive employers who have understood that associates want optionality and trust. Those same progressive employers have demonstrated their agility through T&E and real estate savings with less in-person meetings and optimising use of the same technologies our own kids are addicted to.
  • Different people react differently to a forced WFH situation like the current one. Some are at a higher risk than others of being negatively affected by isolation. Progressive employers scan their employee population for risks and develop strategies to deal in a customised though manageable way with the new needs that arise. Support must be provided.
  • As we said earlier, a risk today can be an opportunity tomorrow. Dealing with the current situation will help companies better understand what the workforce needs and wants. This may push old economy companies to leap forward and make WFH a great progressive practice for more. The end result will be increased employee engagement together with higher overall productivity, reduced spending and more efficient asset management.

All of the above require top management to have a more strategic approach towards HR. It must be considered a key function in crafting long term winning strategies that enable top and bottom line results.

As Ram Charan advocated in his famous 2015 HBR article, the best and most business savvy CHROs should sit at the top table and be selected as key business partners to the CEO and CFO. That also may mean changing the views and perspectives towards a function that for too long (and erroneously) has been considered “soft” or just “an administrative burden”. It will require emerging leaders to consider HR as a key spot to acquire skills, deliver and position themselves for CEO careers. Boards and CEOs will need to consistently follow through with more strategic budget allocations as well as top HR talent inclusion in succession planning.

Certainly a radical shift from the past.

[Michele Volpi has been CEO and Board member in several listed and private equity MNCs and is the founder of tal&dev, an online talent development platform that is improving the way individuals and employers deal with talent management]

Written by

August 28, 2020

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