Transitioning from the COVID-19 Telework Experiment to the Future of Work

COVID-19 put telework to the test. And now, with their eyes on the future, many employers are considering how to transition to a sustainable work-from-home strategy.

COVID-19 put telework to the test. And now, with their eyes on the future, many employers are considering how to transition to a sustainable work-from-home strategy. Still, telework has its critics and its fans. Some believe we’ve been there, tried that and working virtually is not a substitute for face-to-face interactions, causing remote employees to feel marginalized while innovation and performance suffers. For others, the advantages of going all-in on remote work, such as reduced real estate costs and absenteeism, access to an unlimited talent pool, time and money saved from not commuting, slowed spread of communicable diseases and positive environmental impacts, outweigh the obstacles, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been proven that telework can work.

At the Business Group, we believe telework is here to stay, but it’s not an all or nothing topic. While some companies may choose to continue full-time remote work for all or some of their workforce, others will likely allow employees to continue working from home a few days a week or on an ad hoc basis in our post-pandemic future. To help employers who are asking themselves what needs to be done to transition from emergency work from home that was quickly adopted in response to COVID-19 to a formal, strong telework program, the Business Group is releasing: Designing a Long-term Telework Strategy.

This resource shares essential considerations related to terminology, eligibility, ergonomics, equipment, performance, training and internal collaboration. Here are a few examples of topics employers will need to tackle that are expanded upon in the new publication:

  • What do you call it? Employers should familiarize themselves with current terms (telework, remote work, mobile work, agile work, etc.) and their common meanings, consider what’s the right fit for their culture and clearly define the terminology for internal use.
  • Who’s eligible to telework? Requirements and criteria for remote work should align with your organization’s culture and the telework program goals. Employers also need to decide who evaluates telework eligibility—managers, HR or both—and ensure implementation is fair and consistent.
  • Should you provide home office equipment or a stipend? Leading employers often go beyond the standard equipment required for the job with stipends or dedicated funds for home offices. If an employer decides to offer a one-time or recurring stipend, they may want to consider providing employees with high-quality, cost-efficient recommendations, such as 5 ergonomic chairs or 3 printers to choose from.
  • What training should be provided? Bite-sized trainings and readily available best practices can set teams and individuals up for success. For managers, share advice to help them lead from a distance, effectively communicate, build trust and empathy and promote healthy work-life integration. For employees, focus on topics from ergonomics and setting up their home office to best practices for collaboration tools, communications and meeting etiquette.

In addition to Designing a Long-term Telework Strategy, here are a few related events and currently available resources: