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A new CEO has a lot of decisions to make – remote working shouldn’t be one of them

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Jeff Allyn is the Chief Executive Officer at StudioX† Over the past two decades, he has helped organizations earn more than $1 billion in revenue.

Covid-19 has brought about some interesting shifts in the way we work, especially for those starting out in a C-level position. A new CEO has so much to think about: The first 30 days in the CEO role can be overwhelming as a new leader dives deep into every corner of the company. One thing they don’t have to worry about is whether they want to embrace remote working for their employees.

As someone who has been running remote-first businesses for over 15 years, I can confidently say that many people are much more productive working remotely. A flexible schedule means that employees start earlier or work later. They have more energy because they have more autonomy and a better work-life balance. Sure, they can run to a parent-teacher conference or doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day, but they still get their work done.

If you are a new CEO considering remote work for your workforce, I encourage you to embrace it, as remote working offers your business many benefits.

Working remotely doesn’t work from home

“Working from home” sounds like your employees are lounging in their pajamas and napping between meetings. That’s why I call it ‘remote work’. There is already a lot of remote working – on airplanes, in hotel rooms, etc. Salespeople do much of their work outside the office. As long as the work gets done and it doesn’t negatively affect the results, it doesn’t matter where it happens.

Remote working and productivity

When remote work first took off en masse during the pandemic, leaders worried about whether their employees would actually meet their KPIs. Would they still be so productive? How could we even verify that they were working when they said they would be?

Admittedly, before Covid-19, there were definitely people who couldn’t be productive while working remotely. But after more than two years of practice, most people have figured out what to do to be productive because they had no other alternative. Since the start of the pandemic, I have not met a single person who needs coaching because they are not productive.

Several studies on productivity and remote working have been conducted over the past 24 months, with mixed results. Some studies, such as this one by Great place to work, found that productivity increases when employees work remotely. Other sources take the opposite view. But this riddle is easy to solve. Just look at your own numbers. Compare your stats before and after setting up a remote work policy. This way you can see in black and white whether your employees are just as productive when they work remotely. My guess is they are.

Remote working helps attract and retain top talent

One of the first things a new CEO needs is to be surrounded by the right people in the right seats. If you’re not limited to local geography, you can pick the best of the best from around the world, not just in the city. Geographic recruitment is so random these days when the most promising talent in the world is accessible at the click of a mouse. If you settle for employees who only live in your city, you won’t build the best performing team.

As an aside, now that employees are used to the flexibility and independence of remote work, they are not willing to give it up. A FlexJobs study in 2021 found that: 58% of people said they would quit and find a new job if asked to return to the office full-time. Just look at the current churn at many companies, and you will find that this is the main cause.

Keeping the culture alive

If asking people to return to the office is about keeping your culture alive, remember that there are plenty of ways to promote culture without employees looking for childcare, driving 45 minutes, and hating every minute of it” team building” time. We did fun and interesting team building activities at Studio X, such as taking painting and pizza classes and holding wine tastings virtually. It takes some logistical creativity, but our employees loved it, participation soared and they didn’t have to take any time from their real lives to do it.

Remote gain for work-life balance

We all crave work-life balance, but most of us never really had a chance to achieve it until Covid-19 forced everyone to start working remotely.

A Research 2020 by FlexJobs found that 73% of respondents reported better work-life balance since working remotely. I recently surveyed my own team and got the same results. Without being tied to a desk chair or set number of hours of work, employees can go out in the middle of the day to attend their kids’ soccer games, take a nap, go to a fitness class, or do what they need to do. Then they finish their work later. Why wouldn’t we want to give people that advantage? Happier employees are more productive, which benefits the company.

Do you even need an office?

If you’re embracing remote working, how can you justify the cost of an office? In the new world of work, it’s time to ask yourself how much space you really need. We are beyond thinking about square footage and number of desks. It’s time to think about what your space will actually be used for and plan accordingly.

Many companies are downsizing to spaces that meet their new needs, with fewer dedicated desks and more room for collaboration and innovation. The extra costs of an office can be reduced or completely eliminated.

Growth happens outside your comfort zone

The decision to allow remote work often comes down to the CEO’s comfort level with remote work, which is not fair to employees or best for the company. Your team is your company’s most valuable asset. If you’re considering letting your employees work remotely, embrace it and its benefits, even if it feels a little awkward. Growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.


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