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CEOs who don’t embrace remote work could face ramifications


144 - Business ExpressChrista Quarles – Alludo CEO

The new plans of UK‘s government will grant millions of employees in the UK more flexibility in the workplace.

It also sends a clear message to leaders: flexible work is essential. Get on board.

I wholeheartedly agree that flexible work is the future.

The big question is, get on board…or what?

We’re going to see the answer roll through in real-time as the labour force responds to their new-found rights in the UK. I would never presume to know exactly what will happen, but I can venture an educated guess: If CEOs don’t recognize that remote work is an essential part of flexible work, they will lose a serious competitive advantage.

Here’s why:

Exceptionally low unemployment.

Record numbers of Britons dropping out of the labour market due to poor health.

Recruitment problems are limiting our growth,” says a UK firm.

Despite concerns over economic volatility, the labour supply in the UK remains extremely tight. Wonder where everyone’s gone off to?

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Home, as it turns out. And not just home, but at a holiday house or their local café or wherever it suits them to do their work. The world got a taste of remote work during the pandemic, and they don’t want to go back. Remote, flexible work is more popular than ever—and CEOs that aren’t willing to embrace remote work are already finding out the hard way that recruiting in-office talent is a significant extra challenge.

With these new measures, that talent will get an important extra layer of support.

As you’ve probably heard, the new measures will secure the right for employees to request flexible work starting on day one of their roles. That will be a big change from the existing law, which states that only after 26 weeks of continuous employment with a company can someone request flexibility. Flexibility is baked into people’s jobs from the start.

Moreover, it is important to note that flexibility is more than just a location. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said that “ Flexible working doesn’t just mean a combination of working from home and in the office – it can mean employees making use of job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours,” as reported at gov.uk.

Knowledge workers are already figuring out that sitting in a cubicle from Monday to Friday, nine to five is not necessarily the best route to productivity. For generations, we’ve all just accepted that this is what work ‘should’ look and feel like. The truth is that any kind of knowledge work—creativity, research, analysis—requires serious mental fortitude, and that requires being in the right setting, with the right tools, at the right time.

What’s right looks different for everyone, and that’s the whole point. You might get bursts of stamina and creativity in the middle of the night, or you might knock out your best work amid the chaos and energy of a busy coffee shop first thing in the morning. You might truly shine in a traditional office environment during traditional hours—but not because you’re forced to, it’s because that’s what works best for you.

If you know how you do your best work as a leader, why would your employees be any different?

For a CEO, reluctance to embrace work might be due to any number of reasons. Some CEOs could be used to the traditional structure; they are concerned about engagement, productivity, and distractions. Some may like to have everyone in the same place for immediate and direct interaction. Several big-name companies have mandated full-time office work, and some are wondering if remote work is “dying a fast death” in the post-pandemic landscape because of (perhaps ill-conceived) mandates.

Change is hard. But in this case, the consequences of not changing could be severe. There is ample evidence that remote work is not only great for employees, but also for the company as a whole.

If you don’t embrace remote work, you risk missing out on all those things, and not on a small scale. Research suggests that two-thirds of workers would quit if they were forced to return to the office full-time.

I believe this proposed legislation will be a great step forward to where we all need to be headed: to a place where success at work is measured in outputs instead of inputs, and we’re all free to work where, when, and how it works best for us.

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