Tag: WFH Productivity

Work from Home: 3 Underrated Impacts We Should Be Talking about | Blog

When COVID-19 pushed millions around the world to work from home, little focus was given at the time of urgency to the longer-term impacts if the practice continued post-pandemic. Work from Home (WFH) is here to stay, but what effect is it truly having on the environment, society and families, and individuals? To learn more about the less obvious repercussions of this new work model, read on.

COVID-19 impetus   

COVID-19 accelerated a workplace experiment that had struggled to gain traction before the pandemic. As we emerge from the immediate crisis, global companies are increasingly clarifying their stance on the future of WFH.

Some are more bullish about sustaining a scaled WFH model than others. Many organizations are contemplating hybrid delivery models for the long term. Google CEO Sundar Pichai agrees on the importance of incorporating remote working. But other sectors such as the financial industry have a different take, with Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon calling WFH “an aberration.”

While some organizations flourished during WFH with reported cost savings and productivity increases, others had issues below the surface as we previously reported in our blog post on Future of Work From Home in GBS Organizations – Separating Hype from Reality.

Impacts to pay attention to

The indelible impact of WFH on the environment, society and families, and individuals cannot be downplayed as it affects not only the current workforce but also future generations. Let’s take a look at how these three critical areas have been altered – both positively and negatively.

  • The environment

Transportation, especially business travel and commuting, plays an oversized role when we talk about the environmental impact of remote working models. The lack of commuting reduces fossil fuel usage, leading to reductions in greenhouse emissions, air pollution, and the Scope 3 carbon footprint. Another positive for the environment is the significant reduction of paper and plastic usage in offices.

On the other hand, as we previously reported, virtual meetings require large amounts of data that need greater power. This puts huge energy demands on data centers that power the internet and could partially offset the positives.

Other aspects are a mixed bag of positive and negative impacts. Before the pandemic, the lighting, cooling, or heating generally ran at all times in an office building. Individuals working at home will likely use less energy as they tend to be responsible about energy usage as the onus of power bills is on them.

However, one can argue that the power used by individual homes could be collectively higher than offices using well-designed zonal heating and cooling. Another impact to consider is that the WFH model could duplicate enabling equipment (such as external monitors, keyboards, and printers, etc.), which could offset the positives to some extent.

  • Society and families

 WFH has opened up employment opportunities for those who have challenges working in traditional environments, directly improving diversity and inclusivity in organizations and potentially reducing social inequalities in the long term.

Remote working, for example, has enabled organizations that have not yet made their workplaces accessible for people with disabilities to hire these individuals. It also has allowed companies to improve inclusivity by providing opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds for whom office location and delivery models have been obstacles.

Further, WFH can help organizations retain workers who have young children they are caring for at home, as household responsibilities are more redistributed today and both partners play a greater role in upbringing children. The flexibility of work from home also can benefit employees in single-parent households in juggling competing priorities of work and child care.

WFH has also allowed employees living in expensive tier-1 cities to move to lower-cost areas and return to their hometowns, providing the benefits of more time with family and social circles along with cost savings. With the pandemic impacting older adults more severely, work from home has allowed adult children to provide much needed support.

On the other hand, remote working has led many people, particularly the marginalized, to feel excluded and left out. A majority of women have reported a negative impact of WFH due to increased household responsibilities and disruption of work-life balance attributed to traditional gender roles.

The social aspects of interacting at work with many different individuals also have been diminished, limiting the development of employee’s social skills and organizational culture. The virtual environment has made it more difficult for people from under-represented groups to be visible and have their voices heard.

Online networking in discussion groups and forums has been a positive social outlet but tends to favor employees with digital skills and an existing large network base.

Another challenge is the increasing numbers of individuals hired during the pandemic who have never met their colleagues in person. While companies are taking new initiatives to solidify peer connections and foster team collaboration with remote workforces, this is a difficult road that will need concerted, ongoing efforts.

  • Individuals

Of all the aspects addressed so far, the impact on an individual is, by far, the most understated. While employees found the WFH model flexible and enjoyable during its early days, most of them have now reported fatigue and tiredness with the model.

Employees feel a negative impact of remote working on their physical well-being, including weight gain and musculoskeletal problems. Those who walked or biked to their jobs or during breaks are no longer getting this exercise. Lockdowns also restricted other physical activities they may have done outside work. Using non-ergonomic furniture like sofas and beds to work also has had negative health consequences.

WFH has had a profound impact on the mental well-being of employees who have difficulties separating work-home boundaries and managing their workloads with irregular long hours. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has commented that online meetings can make employees tired as well as make the transition from work to private life hard, saying, “Work from home feels like sleeping at work.”

Employees are increasingly complaining of sluggish cognitive performance, commonly dubbed as “pandemic brain,” which arises from long periods in isolation. Increasingly, more employees are facing changes in sleep patterns, difficulty in stopping working, increased distractions, and greater work anxiety.

The negative impact of WFH varies across groups but seems to have disproportionately affected the disadvantaged, although a certain amount of this could be attributed to the pandemic and lockdown isolation.

The ability of each individual to cope with the changes has largely depended on the degree of their social and peer connections and support from their organizations. Employees of proactive organizations who have actively supported their mental health have adapted well to their new WFH environment, with improved performance and productivity.

Future of work  

While WFH has been a big success out of necessity, organizations need to adopt a pragmatic approach as they strategically re-think the future of work. WFH is not going away. We expect companies to use different variations and combinations to create their own version of a WFA – Work from Anywhere model.

By going beyond a mere tactical approach and getting their hybrid model right, organizations will realize the benefits that WFH can bring of higher productivity, optimized costs, a loyal and diversified workforce, and a stronger cultural fabric.

How are you dealing with these softer, yet unignorable, impacts of WFH? Reach out to [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected] to share perspectives.

Future of Work from Home in GBS Organizations – Separating Hype from Reality | Blog

 

COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the Work From Home (WFH) proposition for global organizations, prompting a shift from opportunistic leverage in 2020 to rapid integration of WFH within the future delivery model strategy. Now that the dust is settling a bit from the global health crisis, WFH strategy design and implementation will be critical to ensuring global business services (GBS) organizations’ future success. And WFH will look far different than it did in 2020.

Key learnings from 2020

Most organizations successfully transitioned to scaled remote delivery models with minimal service delivery disruptions in response to COVID-19. This experience has served as a critical proof of concept, and exposed key learnings and opportunity areas associated with scaled WFH delivery.

Let us take a closer look at several key things we learned while conducting the research for our recently published report, Future of Work-From-Home in GBS – Separating Hype from Reality:

  • Employee preferences have evolved as the pandemic unfolded, from a strong preference for full-time/partial WFH to a choice between WFH/WFO in a hybrid delivery modelPicture1 2
  • Overall productivity has either sustained or increased for most organizations. That said, there are issues building below the surface and concerns around false positives, i.e., increase in productivity driven by higher efficiency or higher throughput
  • WFH can drive the next wave of cost optimization across locations for GBS organizations, though true savings will depend on their ability to exploit underlying levers such as real estate, technology, and talent
  • WFH has opened new opportunity areas, like accessing new talent markets, improving retention, and enhancing the employee experience, for improving the GBS talent model
  • WFH is prompting a shift toward a more holistic hub, spoke, and satellite model to enable hybrid delivery models and enhance employee choice and internal workforce mobility
  • Regulatory environment is still an unknown, though governments are taking a proactive approach to define policies such as taxation and labor laws to enable hybrid delivery going forward
  • The WFH model is lucrative but comes with complexities like employee fatigue, potential loss of productivity, work-life balance, and loss of organizational culture that cannot be downplayed

Our interactions with leading GBS organizations over the last 12 months revealed multiple key themes that will determine the success of a hybrid WFH model going forward:

  • Determining roles adjacency, and how they fit into a hybrid delivery model. This is about understanding implications on office design, real estate right sizing, and the technology interventions needed to enable this shift
  • Training employees, especially front-line managers and new employees, on key aspects of virtual delivery, such as target setting, self-time management, and stress management
  • Clear articulation and understanding of organizational culture, managing the employee experience, and driving collaboration in a virtual environment
  • Managing the contingent/extended workforce, including safeguarding intellectual property, monitoring performance, and sustaining productivity

While many GBS organizations are addressing key WFH-related challenges in an agile manner, they must proactively design their WFH strategy and align it with their parent organization’s needs and objectives.

Building a future proof WFH strategy

As GBS organizations build their future WFH strategy, they need to solve for six key elements.

Picture2 1

  • Work portfolio – GBS organizations must utilize a structured and fact-based approach to identifying the best fit work-types and employees for remote delivery, while ensuring a balance between organizational imperatives and employee choice
  • Talent model – GBS organizations must address multiple talent model changes – including the evolving role of the human workforce, workforce engagement models, talent implications of remote working, and leadership development models – with a focus on adapting the workforce to future delivery models
  • Locations portfolio – As a holistic hub, spoke, and satellite delivery model gains traction, GBS organizations must evaluate the role of nearshore/offshore locations based on feasibility and cost savings offered by the WFH model across locations. As organizations evaluate new markets with attractive talent cost propositions, especially offshore locations, location optimization will likely happen over the next 6 – 12 months
  • Technology and real estate infrastructure – GBS organizations must leverage technology to achieve key organizational objectives, such as enhancing productivity, ensuring security and compliance, and improving the employee experience, and to reimagine the workspace, like floor layout, seat allocation, and office safety equipment, to adapt to the unique demands of a hybrid delivery model
  • Performance management – GBS organizations must identify the right levers and leverage best practices – such as adopting an outcome-driven culture, setting clear goals, and realigning the expectations with remote workers – to drive productivity improvements in a sustained WFH environment
  • Risk management – GBS organizations must proactively identify business, talent, data, and regulatory risks related to the WFH model and mitigate the potential impacts.

The way forward

COVID-19 has presented organizations with a unique opportunity to re-strategize their priorities, optimize their operating models, and develop a robust future-proof WFH strategy. We believe GBS organizations that proactively seize this opportunity will emerge resilient and stronger.

Read our report, Future of Work-From-Home in GBS – Separating Hype from Reality, to gain insights on global organizations’ outlook on the WFH model, the extent of adoption, key design elements and approaches, emerging trends and best practices, and key challenges and success factors to enable a scaled WFH model.

We’d love to hear about your WFH experience and approach to designing a WFH strategy for your GBS organization. Please share with us at: [email protected] or [email protected].

Service Delivery Location Factors to Consider for WFH Model Adoption | Blog

Before COVID-19, most organizations were reluctant to adopt Work From Home (WFH), viewing it as a hard-to-govern delivery model relevant only for limited functions and employees. However, the pandemic has made WFH a requirement, at least for the short term, for most enterprises. Despite the massive disruption, we believe most organizations will make WFH a business-as-usual component of their “next normal.” But that means they’ll have to take a long, hard strategic look at the locations they use for services delivery, whether they operate in a shared services environment or leverage a third-party provider.

COVID-19 has challenged conventional thinking about location selection parameters

Historically, most location portfolio decisions were based on an evaluation of traditional factors including the talent landscape, market attractiveness and competitiveness, cost of business operations, and the business and operating environment. Now organizations need to factor in and evaluate a location’s business case for WFH adoption, including the interplay of additional drivers like infrastructure, restrictions for remote delivery, presence of strong governance mechanisms, employee security, data protection, intellectual property safety, and determination of additional benefits that can be tapped into.

We’ve developed a framework that assesses 20 additional factors that we have categorized into three buckets: viability, security, and potential benefits.

WFH

Each of these parameters plays a crucial role in an organization’s selection of services delivery locations for a WFH environment.

Understanding a given location’s WFH viability will not only help enterprises carve out their next wave of growth, but also help them tap into the additional benefits offered by the location.

Here’s a look at each of the three overarching buckets.

Understanding overall viability

This category is all about evaluating a location’s business ecosystem through a new WFH lens. It involves:

  • Having a detailed view of the overall WFH infrastructure, like broadband speed and penetration, power/telecom outages, network readiness, and reliability
  • Understanding nuances for local WFH restrictions as imposed by the law, such as regulatory concerns, data privacy issues, SEZ norms, and number of working hours
  • Assessing the overall ecosystem for WFH adoption, e.g., social/cultural acceptance and working from an established location as opposed to a greenfield location.

We believe all organizations should assess each location on these factors as they will play an essential role in WFH success.

Fighting security concerns

Another critical factor enterprises need to evaluate in each location they’re considering is the overall security of their employees and their data. Here, organizations need to look at the robustness and effectiveness of local data protection and cybercrime laws across each location. Understanding local governance mechanisms and laws will help bolster viability for each location and help organizations map suitability for each function. Further, as their employees will be working from home, organizations will also need to understand the nuances around crime rates across employee neighborhoods, civil unrest, and natural hazards, as these can potentially increase the business cost for crime and violence, and also disrupt operations.

Reaping potential benefits

Adopting a WFH model will not only help organizations drive the next wave of cost optimization (significant savings over leasing real estate infrastructure and utility expenses) but also will help them overcome challenges related to availability of real estate across leading talent hubs in tier-1 locations.

WFH adoption will further help organizations establish additional satellite locations, or tertiary sites, in which talent works remotely, either permanently or part-time, with or without a corporate physical presence in the location. This will not only help reduce travel time, but also help improve employee productivity and reduce overall attrition for organizations. Based on a recent survey we conducted with leading enterprises, more than three-quarters of the respondents said their organization’s overall productivity has increased in the current COVID-19 period. The average improvement in productivity was just over 13 percent, as compared to before the pandemic period.

The WFH business case is a win-win proposition for most organizations as they adapt to the “next normal.” While there are multiple factors that potentially sweeten the business case for WFH adoption, taking a detailed view by each location will be an imperative as organizations progress and evolve on this journey. An iterative and continuous thinking approach will further help organizations overcome some key challenges including employee and organization development, legal, and regulatory concerns. Watch this space for more updates.

For additional details on this topic, reach out to us at [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].

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