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By Saadiq Samodien, Online Event Specialist, Top Employers Institute
By Saadiq Samodien, Online Event Specialist, Top Employers Institute

Key Takeaways: Virtual Fireside Chat - The Next Era of Work with i4cp

The COVID-19 pandemic forced accelerated change and improvisation through stale and outdated workforce policies. Remote work policies, communication structures and childcare policies all had to be quickly established. . Leaders were forced to create structures that allow employees to remain productive and collaborate virtually while also remaining inclusive. It forced organisations to recognise that a more long term hybrid model of working might be more of the norm than the exception going forward to retain and attract top talent.   

In an exclusive Fireside Chat with David Plink (CEO of Top Employers Institute) and Kevin Oakes (CEO of i4cp), presented the findings of the i4cp report: From Cube to Cloud: The Next Era of Work. 

Watch the full webinar by filling in the form or read the key takeaways here:    

Return to the office or remote work? 

I4cp has conducted over a hundred pulse surveys and in-depth studies on flexible models of work. One of the key findings is that demanding a permanent return to the office is a mistake. The pandemic coupled with HR research have taught us that employees value flexibility. They do not want to be dicated by management about whether they have have a physical presence in the office or not. All employees have a different life situation. A lot of people have childcare or eldercare responsibilities, and therefore working from home is much more suitable. A vast majority of employees want flexible remote work options, which allows them to work from home, or from the office, or a combination of both.   

The shift to remote work has had unplanned positive effects on the workplace, including:  

  • Senior leaders showing more empathy (paying a greater focus on wellbeing and removing the ‘business professional’ persona). 
  • Employees felt more connected as they were transported into fellow employees living rooms and kitchens on video calls.  
  • Employees gravitated closer to the purpose of the organisation.  

CEOs weighing in on the decision to work remotely 

CEOs have expressed strong opinions of returning to the office. However, they may be the least qualified to make this decision. Too many leaders have applied their personal experiences to decide corporate policy. It is important for leaders to recognise the diverse living situations for many employees. CEOs may have the flexibility to work from home quite comfortably, but this may not be the reality for all employees. It is important for leaders to be empathetic and see things from the perspective of employees and not their own reality.  

To reach a decision, leaders should gather employee sentiment and allow for it to be decided between the employee and manager when it comes to flexible working options.  

Post pandemic talent exodus 

Many organisations are concerned with a post-pandemic talent exodus (high potential and critical talent) for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons that appeal to workers now is whether an employer offers a flexible work model or not. A lack of flexibility will likely lead to higher loss of talent but could also affect an organisations ability to attract a diverse workforce. For example, in the schedule of parents, the ability to work from home is a big benefit and taking away that option will likely cause a pursuit of more fexible options elsewhere.  

On remote collaboration 

During the pandemic, believe it or not, innovation increased dramatically according to most organisations. The same can be observed with collaboration. One of the ways to understand this is to conduct an organisational network analysis (ONA), which tracks how collaboration and communication flow throughout the workplace. This also identifies where the centre of collaboration is happening and where communication is failing. 

Watch the From Cube to Cloud: The Next Era of Work Fireside chat to learn more about hybrid work and how productivity, collaboration and diversity and inclusion are affected by this.