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This Week in Remote Work - Dec. 11th Edition

December 11, 2020
By Robb Henshaw

Welcome back to another This Week in Remote Work. Even with the year coming to a close, this week gave us some incredibly valuable research, data, and missives on the future of work. Let’s dig in. Image for Cameyo blog post on the week's top stories about remote work

1) What Not to Do When Implementing an All-Remote Policy (wrkfrce)

If you’re not familiar with Darren Murph, the Head of Remote at GitLab - I highly recommend you start following him now. Darren has held the position of “Head of Remote” since long before the pandemic, and has years of experience that could help every organization looking to make the move to full or hybrid remote work. 

There are literally hundreds of articles about and by Darren in the last few months, but I strongly recommend starting with this one. First of all, it’s really valuable to start off by identifying the mistakes that many companies make when making the shift to remote. Here’s one of my favorites:

It is vital to recognize and appreciate this point: an organization should not attempt to merely replicate the in-office/colocated experience, remotely.

Remote work is not traditional work which is simply conducted in a home office instead of a company office. There is a natural inclination for those who have not personally experienced remote work to assume that the core (or only) difference between in-office work and remote work is location (in-office vs. out-of-office). This is inaccurate, and if not recognized, can be damaging to the entire practice of working remotely.

Beyond the great warnings of things to avoid, there’s another key reason to read and bookmark this article: Darren provides links out to DOZENS of incredibly useful resources that he and his organisation have spent years compiling. These are resources honed over years, and will give any organization and significant head start on successfully enabling remote work. 

2)  The Three New Executive Roles That Define 2020 (The Economist)

This article explores the top 10 fastest-growing C-suite roles based on data compiled by LinkedIn, with the #1 C-suite growth role being the Chief Diversity Officer. When I first looked at this Top 10 list, my immediate thought was - “Wait, there’s nothing about new remote work leadership roles on here?”

But when it comes to remote work, the article points out an interesting phenomenon:

Two other new roles have also come to the fore in recent months (though their relative novelty and lack of standardised terminology mean they do not show up in LinkedIn’s top 10): “head of remote” and “head of health and wellbeing”.

This makes a lot of sense. Organizations use all kinds of different language when talking about remote work, working from home, the future of work, etc. The article goes on to say:

“The second-biggest job title change,” says Mr Lee, “would be a chief remote officer, or someone with remote in their title.” This may sound oh-so-2020, but many firms are preparing to allow more home working after the pandemic, having realised that it can boost productivity and save money, says Mr Lee. Now they need to manage it effectively in the long run—which is where the head of remote comes in.

It is not just companies that are planning to go “fully remote” that are hiring a point-person for remote work. Facebook is gearing up to have half of its workforce go remote within a decade and is in the market for a remote-working chief. Mr Lee says similar roles are “popping up regularly” at medium and large American companies.

I think that last point is critical - it’s not just companies who are going fully-remote that need a “Head of Remote” of “Chief Remote Officer.” Even if you’re planning for a future of hybrid work where people work both remotely and from physical offices on occasion, you still need to have a Remote Work strategy, and someone to guide that strategy. 

3) A talent-first approach will be key to helping businesses prosper in 2021 (Citrix Blog)

Citrix announced the results of a new survey & research report that works to identify what employees really want to see in 2021.  This is a continuation of their “Work 2035” project, which takes a look at how people and technology will create new ways of working. 

Here’s what stuck out to me most from this survey of 2,200 knowledge workers and 500 HR professionals:

  • Flexibility is high on the employee agenda, with 88 percent of employees agreeing that, when searching for a new position, they would look for a company that offers workers complete flexibility in their working hours and location.
  • 83 percent of employees and 69 percent of HR directors think that workers will be more likely to move out of cities and other urban locations if they can work remotely for a majority of the time.
  • 78 percent of workers and 67 percent of HR directors predict that the geographical decentralization of organizations will result in the creation of new work hubs in suburban/rural areas in the next 12 months.

This continues the trend we’ve been writing about for weeks in these roundups. First, a majority of employees are going to demand the ability to work remotely moving forward. And second, people are taking advantage of the ability to leave expensive urban centers, which is going to lead to a broader distribution of talent - and even the creation of many smaller rural hubs. 

4) The surprising way to build a productive organization in 2021 (Fast Company

This article takes a really interesting look at how organizations can redesign the “office” for a future of work that will certainly be hybrid, even after the pandemic. I liked that this article didn’t waste any time debating whether or not remote work would continue to be a norm even after the pandemic:

Remote working has changed the game, and that genie is not going back in the bottle. Estimates are that going forward, around 50% of office workers will work from home part of each week, and when they’re in the office, almost all will be interfacing with remote colleagues. In other words, a hybrid work model will be the norm.

From there, it digs into a designer’s architectural vision for how to redesign spaces to optimize for this hybrid remote work future. I particularly liked the section that talked about how - once coming into an office is no longer mandatory - offices need to intentionally be designed to become a “magnet” that makes people want to go into the office to collaborate. 

5) 6 Trends on the Gartner Hype Cycle for the Digital Workplace, 2020 (Gartner)

Disclaimer - this report is from back in August, but I saw it making the rounds again on LinkedIn and I think it’s worth another look. It’s worth looking back on Gartner’s view of how the pandemic has rapidly evolved the Digital Workspace trend:

“According to the Gartner 2020 Digital Workplace Survey, 68% of respondents agreed that more C-level execs have expressed involvement in the digital workplace since COVID-19,” says Matt Cain, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner. “From meeting solution software, to enterprise chat platforms, to desktop-as-a-service, the pandemic rapidly elevated many digital workplace technologies from nice-to-have to must-have status.”

It’s also worth noting that two of the six key trends Gartner highlights include “Smart Workspaces” and “Desktop-as-a-Service” (DaaS). 

Trend 4: Smart workspaces

A smart workspace leverages the growing digitalization of physical objects to deliver new ways of working and improve workforce efficiency. Any location where people work can be a smart workspace, such as office buildings, desk spaces, conference rooms and even home spaces. 

As employees return to work post-COVID-19, organizations will take full advantage of smart workspaces as they revisit design strategies to better understand how people participate in physical spaces or adhere to social distancing. Such insight can create new capabilities related to seating and room allocation, access management and wayfaring.

Trend 5: Desktop-as-a-service

Desktop as a service (DaaS) provides users with an on-demand, virtualized desktop experience delivered from a remotely hosted location. It includes provisioning, patching and maintenance of the management plane and resources to host workloads. 

Organizations have long been interested in adopting virtual desktop infrastructure, but complexity and capital investment have made implementations difficult. COVID-19 highlighted the value and business continuity strength of DaaS in its ability to rapidly enable remote work where on-premises options have stalled. The pandemic is likely to accelerate adoption of DaaS, and it may even perpetuate as a delivery architecture when employees return to the office.

Based on our conversations with the analyst community, I think that even in the three months since this report published, the views and definitions in the DaaS section have evolved. Rather than focusing solely on virtual desktops, the conversation has shifted to the broader “Digital Workspace” trend, which encompasses multiple technologies - from VDI, to DaaS, to Virtual App Delivery - to ensure that people have the right technology to securely work remotely, based on their specific needs. 

Thanks for joining us for another This Week in Remote Work, and we look forward to seeing you back here next week. Got ideas on articles or trends that we’re missing? Join us over on LinkedIn or Twitter and let us know your thoughts.

Filed Under: Remote Work, Working From Home, Digital Workspaces, Future of Work, This Week in Remote Work