More than 70% of companies do not have adequate remote working policies and it’s a multi-billion dollar issue.

100 days ago, the debate was whether you could work from home on some days. Now the debate is whether you should work from the office on some days or at all. This monumental shift has happened so rapidly that businesses have yet to really deal with the ramifications and opportunities.

Recently Fujitsu announced that it would be reducing its office space by 50%. With 140 000 employees globally, this global 500 powerhouse is no small IT firm. The aimed cost reduction will save them around $800 Million in lease obligations (based on their latest financial reports). What is more important is that they have undertaken it as a “work-life programme” with clear aspirations and goals of what remote working will achieve for their people. They have set out that work locations can be chosen between home, corporate hub or satellite offices. Their overarching statement was, “FUJITSU will introduce a new way of working that promises a more empowering, productive, and creative experience for employees that will boost innovation and deliver new value to its customers and society.”

We conducted a study with over 250 respondents to evaluate how well teams were performing with regards to their work from home strategies and policies.

The results showed that while employees felt they were coping, and engagement was equal to or better than the office (76%), more than 67% felt that their companies did not have adequate policies to manage remote working, even though 73% found working at home more productive than at the office. More than 40% of respondents said they had more work than at the office, and over 55% said they felt overwhelmed by the volume of calls, emails and other communication.

Nevo Hadas, Partner at dY/dX, says setting a remote working policy is not an IT task, “It is a strategic task that is a combination of HR and executive leadership. Its purpose is to enable the company to benefit from the big changes occurring in society while enhancing staff engagement, productivity and retention.”

The remote working policy will become a cornerstone digital transformation document for the company. It will impact almost every aspect of work, just like the physical office did, and in many ways define the future of the company’s culture, employee base and customer base.

Some questions to consider when forming a remote working policy

  1. What percentage of your workforce are able to be remote and how do you reduce office space to meet that?
  2. What limitations do your employees face at home and do you assist them to overcome that (i.e. home office allowance) or provide offices just for them?
  3. How do you coordinate a work from home company, what tools and, more importantly, what standards for those tools, do you use to align communication and tasking?
  4. How do you move your employment contracts away from time-based (9-5) to output-based (agree on tasks to be completed within a time frame) effectively and maintain team communication? 
  5. How do you keep employee engagement and culture strong, while not leading to burnout as employees stay connected at their desks for too many hours?
  6. Do you change your recruitment policy to hire from other countries/locations or do you keep your employee base closer to an HQ.
  7. Do you need physical offices to expand globally?

“Remote policies aren’t about whether you use Zoom or Microsoft Teams for meetings, but core strategic issues,” says Hadas. Done well, it can boost companies bottom lines dramatically. Done badly, it can make them uncompetitive. “As the dust settles post lockdown, executives will need to focus their vision on thinking through how the future of work impacts their business’s evolution into the future.”