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Distributed Workforce – The Future Is Now

At BOOST we have a strong bench of really intelligent SMEs with knowledge that goes deep into their service areas. Below, you’ll find a note from one of BOOST’s SME CFOs about the future of work and the high-potential for a “new remote-work normal.”

Don writes:

While the COVID-19 pandemic effects are in our constant near-term thinking, one thing it has done is force many employers and customers to look hard at a remote workforce where it was not previously a consideration.  Continuing virus flare-ups until a vaccine is available in the next 12-18 months will cause sporadic work-at-home orders.  Your entire workforce could be whipsawed between the “new normal” and hunkering down at home for 2-4-week intervals over the next year or so.  It might also induce some of your more valuable staff members to choose to permanently work from home as their only option and either force that option on your management team or find another employer who will accept their demands.

This link from the National Bureau of Economic Research is an April 2020 white paper on the impact and possibilities of a remote workforce driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The report indicates that by the NBER’s criteria, approximately 34% of the total national workforce could work remotely.  Additionally, the Washington, DC metropolitan area is second only to Silicon Valley in the percentage of total workforce and the labor-dollar-weighted workforce that could work remotely at 46% and 61%, respectively.

In my opinion, this shock to the economy and workforce will require many to seriously reconsider the possibilities of a remote workforce for your staff and customers.  While your management team is working the near-term issues of solving staff assignments, product deliveries, customer expectations, profitability, and cash flow, it’s not too soon to begin planning out how your own leadership principles, company culture, and facilities can all be maximized to get ahead of the curve – which, I believe, is surely coming.  A series of questions like the following can help crystallize your team to focus on the mid to long-term issues:

• Which staff assignments truly “require” our company staff to be at a customer or company location over the long term?

• If our staff assignments are moved to a maximized remote workforce:

• Can our IT facilities and capabilities handle the workload, or do we need to expand capabilities?

• e.g. Cloud storage; Virtual meetings; Collaboration workspace; Standardized software tools; Network capacity; etc.

• Can our physical facilities:

• if leased, be reduced, or renegotiated to reduce fixed costs?

• if owned, be maximized for leasing or partitioning for the new reduced workforce?

• Can our organization react flexibly to new cost structures to increase competitiveness and improve profitability?

Most importantly, can our leadership principles and company culture:

• Be clearly and constantly communicated to our newly distributed workforce?

• Ensure that our customers receive (and perceive) excellence in work product, support and value delivery?

• Be effectively applied to ensure that our staff are continually maximizing efficiency, effectiveness, and individual and team motivation?

We’re keeping everyone in our collective thoughts – especially the heroic medical professionals and staff; first-responders; and all of the essential retail, logistics, and utilities workers.

Our BOOST SMEs are some of the smartest people we know. If you need a resource or an introduction, let us know. We’re all in this together. Share resources, stay connected (digitally of course), and treat your people well. They will remember well beyond this season of change and that is going to make all the difference.