Management strategies must adapt to remote working — VMware

According to the new research from VMware, exploring the notion that employees can work from anywhere, the proportion of UK staff that believe remote working to be a prerequisite rather than a perk increased by 128%, meaning that management must adjust hiring strategies accordingly.

Over two-thirds (70%) of UK respondents recognise that their organisation is realising the benefits of remote work and can’t go back to the way they used to be, but nearly four in ten (39%) of decision makers surveyed worry their team won’t stay on task when working remotely.

In addition, 28% of decision makers feel their boardroom culture discourages remote working, and over half (53%) feel more pressure to be online outside of normal working hours.

Leading by example

During a debate hosted by VMware following the reveal of its latest findings on remote working, it was recommended that management lead by example when it comes to work-life balance, by not expecting emails sent to employees outside of work hours to be responded to immediately.

“The challenges in the past six months have forced businesses to quickly adapt to new working practices where ‘work’ doesn’t equal ‘the office’,” said Kristine Dahl Steidel, vice-president, end user computing EMEA at VMware.

“The future of work has arrived in the form of a distributed workforce, bringing with it, tangible business benefits, from productivity and employee morale, to greater collaboration and enhanced recruitment opportunities.

“With this digital foundation, companies need to instil the right culture and leadership approach to create a new way of work. The digital workspace solutions that enable distributed workforces to be collaborative, engaged, visible and productive have already helped thousands of businesses and millions of employees – and VMware is continuing to innovate.”

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Véronique Karcenty, digital workspace director at Orange Group, France, commented: “The unprecedented shift we’ve seen to a work from anywhere model this year undoubtedly offers many advantages to employers and employees alike.

“However, we should not underestimate the required change in people management strategies to keep employees engaged and productive. While executive leadership is important for setting the tone, it’s middle management that needs to constantly demonstrate trust, energise the team and build a sense of shared purpose.”

Evolution of culture

Elsewhere in the research, 73% of employees surveyed believe personal connections with colleagues have improved while remote working, while 62% feel more empowered to speak up in video conference meetings, and 60% say their stress levels have improved.

In addition, employee morale (24%) and productivity (28%) have seen an increase, and 58% say recruitment of top-tier talent has been made easier, specifically for working parents (81%) and minority candidates (63%).

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Dr Carl Benedikt Frey, director of the Future of Work Programme at Oxford University, commented: “For organisations to truly embrace the ‘work from anywhere’ model, managers will have to move away from monitoring inputs to focusing on output, all from within an environment of mutual trust.

“Striking the right balance will be key to ensure employees are motivated and while being in an environment where creativity can flourish.”

During the debate hosted by VMware, Karcenty described the idea of “reinventing the new team”, using co-working spaces nearer to where employees live to cultivate ‘phygital’ collaboration that’s simultaneously remote and in-person in nature, a method that’s underway in Paris.

Alongside Vanson Bourne, VMware surveyed 2,850 respondents across EMEA (950 HR decision makers, 950 IT decision makers and 950 business decision makers), across 12 countries – UK (600), France (450), Germany (450), Italy (150), Netherlands, (150), Russia (150), Poland (150), Norway (150), Sweden (150), Spain (150), UAE (150) and Saudi Arabia (150), in June and July 2020.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.