If you don't stay remote, you will lose business

Stay Remote or you will lose business
Stay Remote or you will lose business - Photography by Andrea Piacquadio

The following article is for employers that have the ability to go fully remote. Managed transportation, load planning, procurement - Office work has largely gone remote in 2020 - and if you're planning on keeping your workforce, you'll need to adapt. Supply Chain processes that are still on paper need to be digitized - and probably should have been five years ago.

About two-thirds of remote workers want to continue to work remotely. [Source] Will your business survive limiting your labor pool to one third?

You Will Lose Your Star Employees - Unless you allow them to go remote.

Many times in discussing supply chains, I always come back to the Amazon affect - once 2-day shipping becomes standard for a business, and becomes standard for a market - that's what people are going to expect, hands down. Now that so many businesses are taking the leap to utilizing their workforce through remote work - employees are going to expect this from good companies.

This is a key moment in business - yours can decide to innovate with alongside other businesses, or not - but you will suffer the consequences of attempting to maintain the "old mentality". Not every employee needs to be a star - but it's important to have some.

The Best Employees - the ones energized, innovative, and eager for new challenges, have their pick of the litter for new jobs.

Over the past few months I've watched nearly every exceptional coworker leave the company that refused to get on-board with remote work. Even though this company is Global, and has had employees working remote for the past 18 months with no issue (Posting record profits and continuously positive quarter end results, and bonuses for the higher level employees), insisting on the 5-day commute is driving valuable employees away in droves.

It's sad to say supply chain tends to be an "Older focused" business. New supply chain startups are ripe for the taking, and I'm interested to see how this all plays out. As the innovators refuse to accept sub-standard treatment by their employers - soon the key driver in profits will be lost from the "old" businesses. 

Managing your productivity - and your Managers

Workers themselves report a 2% total productivity increase during the pandemic - and further studies found anywhere between a 4 and 13% increase in real productivity. [Source] It turns out, the people finding the switch to remote work the hardest, tends to be the managers.  And the managers that have the most difficulty adjusting to remote work are the micro-managers. No longer can they sit and breathe down their employee's necks, "walk the floor", intimidate or pressure their employees either.

If you're having problems with productivity, it's not the fact you're working on computers. It's because you aren't giving your staff the right direction, tools, or resources. Or, they're distracted by something else - it could be the raging global pandemic, for instance. 

The most successful businesses will give their employees freedom, respect, and support during any transition or to maintain excellent remote work. Take care of your employees - support them, praise them, and give them opportunities for growth.

Right now, it's a war for talent. Keep in mind your employees likely are able to get 15%, 20% raises by going to a new company. What else do the new companies have that yours doesn't? Your employees will find out. Most interviews are now done remotely, so they have unlimited opportunity to interview and discuss their options. 

I probably shouldn't have to point out that losing out on star employees will mean your other employees, clients, and customers will likely take notice. 

So how can you make the switch to remote more permanently and more successfully? Here's a few tips below:

  1. How can you show your support to your employees as an employer?
  2. How To Be Social at Work Remotely
  3. Setting Expectations and Goals

How can you show your support to your employees as an employer?

First and foremost, Make sure you implement and continue to promote the use of Employee Assistance Programs - most people could benefit quite a bit from therapy sessions and many are unaware of these free-to-the-employee benefits. 

Second, and most important, you must implement either a full remote - or at bare-minimum, flex-remote policy. I'm not a fan of the "2-3 day a week" policies; oftentimes this is touted as a flexible policy but it really isn't.  As an employee I'd easily skip that offer for a full flex remote or a fully remote position, even if it meant a small pay cut.

Ultimately, it's vital to ask for the input of your employees. And I don't mean sending out a half-baked survey. I mean sit down, have some one on ones, with directors, managers and regular associates. Get to know what their concerns are, what they're up against - daycare schedules? School schedules? Pandemic-adoption puppy schedules? Understanding the concerns of your employees will greatly increase your ability to handle them and work with your associates, being supportive and creating a suitable plan that can work for everyone.

How To Be Social at Work Remotely

First off, as a manager, you cannot force friendships within the workplace. But, making a switch to remote work generally calls for a little more support in the social interaction department. Consider setting up "clubs" - meetings where associates can potentially talk about their own personal interests, or a social "happy hour" - but, uh, make sure these aren't mandatory -because nothing quite hurts more than work-forced social interaction. 

Something additional to consider are Lunch and learn programs - where different associates can talk about their particular skill sets and knowledge. I personally helped implement this type of program in the workplace, and it received quite a good response. Make sure to get employee input on what they'd like to see - and management should provide support and incentive for all associates to show their support by attending the meetings as well. 

Setting Expectations and Goals

Your employees should have a clear idea of KPI's expected of them, and goals their department and individual role are hoping to achieve. This must come from management; personal career goals are what are up to the individual. It's managements' duty to provide support and direction for associates, and making the switch to remote work makes this even more essential. Having a clear idea of goals can give associates a feeling of security - knowing what they're going to be evaluated on, taking clear steps to take towards a promotion, or simply just feeling secure in their position.

More Reading: 

https://nbloom.people.stanford.edu/sites/g/files/sbiybj4746/f/why_wfh_stick_0.pdf - Why Working From Home Will StickJose Maria Barrero,* Nicholas Bloom, and Steven J. DavisDecember 1st 2020