Over the past year, the number of so-called remote work experts and hybrid work advocates grew dramatically. However, implementing work from home takes careful planning and often requires external help from an expert. If not implemented intentionally, remote work can cause employee burnout, disengagement, and Zoom fatigue.

Can it be that we are not doing remote work properly? To help us understand the context of this working model, Sandra Thompson, the organizer of Ei Evolution Summit, invited incredible speakers with decades of remote work experience to share their insights from the last year.

The CXM team had the pleasure to attend this virtual panel discussion between prominent remote work experts Laurel Farrer, Anne Bibb, and John Riordan. In this article, we will summarize some of the most intriguing points from their conversation.

What is remote work?

an image showing a woman working remotely and a dog next to her.

The discussion at the panel started with the remote work definition and common myths that surround it. Each speaker tried to demystify the model and offer examples from their work experience and expertise.

‘Remote work, for me, is just work. It is somebody else putting a label of remote in front of it − and to call it anything else is to devaluate it,’ explained John Riordan, a director of support at Shopify.

In his view, workplace is an outcome, rather than a place.

Laurel Farrer, the international remote work expert, agreed with this notion but also added a very important differentiation. She highlighted there needs to be an understanding of the differences between the operational levels of in-office and remote work. While the job and the tasks don’t change with the place, the operations require changes.

‘What you are doing in your tasks, is the same. What you are doing as a professional is different’, explained Laurel.

As a final point, Anne Bibb, head of customer experience, invited the perspective of purposeful leadership into the discussion. She agreed that the work is an outcome, and therefore, the leaders should make sure the employees have all the conditions to deliver the tasks.

‘As long as the job is done, where it is done is irrelevant’, said Anne.  

Building hybrid work models on the previous knowledge

Many of us were introduced to remote work for the first time last year, the model exists for quite some time now. There are many remote work examples we could learn from to avoid some common mistakes.

‘This isn’t about going back and recreating the past. It is about discovering what is new and what’s possible’, explained Laurel.

The three speakers agreed on the two things leaders have to be ready to embrace on their path to building hybrid work model:

‘What we have been through in the past year and a half is not the hard part. Going remote is the easy part. Doing remote, optimizing remote, really building your team and continuing to grow, develop culture, trust, efficiency, and operational processes as a hybrid and distributed team, that’s the trick that most companies are going to miss-align,’ pointed Laurel.

Lack of flexibility can make you lose your best talents  

As a conclusion of this exciting conversation, we could emphasize the need for inclusive thinking and a co-created approach to building the future of work. Remote work or hybrid working model is certainly not for everybody. However, leaders have to be aware of the potential danger of losing the talents just because they ignore their flexibility demands.

What about hybrid work?

There was also another interesting session on EI Evolution surrounding the topic of work models. In the conversation about hybrid working, Sandra Thompson asked for comments from Dr John Hopkins, Founder of WorkFLEX and professor at the Swinburne University of Technology. John’s company is working with organisations across Australia to understand the hybrid working challenges. Following the feedback from various businesses, WorkFLEX came up with six pillars of successful hybrid work. You’ll see them all in a comprehensive work model below.

John explained the model in detail and answered some burning questions around the topic. To learn more, visit the EI Evolution Library. There you’ll find all the described sessions stored for you to watch at your convenience!

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