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Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: How to get remote work right

CIO Jury: 100% of employers will continue to offer remote work after the pandemic

Working from anywhere is a trend that will remain in place for years to come.

Remote work and work-from-anywhere will continue to be part of the perks offered to employees long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, at least according to TechRepublic's CIO Jury.

And they're not alone. Gartner has said that global spending on IT relating to remote work will hit $332.9 billion this year as businesses resume IT expansion plans, which were delayed as a result of the pandemic. Remote work is a reality, and there's an increased demand for technology with ongoing protocols in place as a result of COVID-19, according to a TechRepublic article by Owen Hughes. 

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TechRepublic polled members of its CIO Jury to find out how they're handling remote work within their own organizations. Jury members were asked this question, "Will you offer a remote work option for at least some of your employees after the pandemic?" All 12 jury members said 'yes', for a unanimous decision.

Christine Schoeff, senior vice president of HR at FourKites, said that her company will allow employees to continue to work remotely at least through 2021.

"We anticipate a hybrid model in the future with a combination of office presence and remote workers, which will also allow us to capitalize on broader talent markets," Schoeff said. "Our entire global workforce went remote back in mid-March. What we found was that we lost no productivity, and in many cases, our productivity as a team increased as we rushed to answer urgent requests from customers in need of support during those early COVID-19 months."

FourKites is putting its employees' mental and physical health at the top of the company's priority list. The organization now has a global remote guide for employees that gives them explicit permission to decline meeting invites, and encourages them to set their own boundaries and take time for themselves each day. There's a bi-weekly Culture of Connection Committee for employees to use as a brainstorming session to come up with ideas on how to better connect while remote, and there are new coaching opportunities for employees and support for managers. 

At Qumu, president and CEO TJ Kennedy said the company has gone entirely remote and is calling it "Work from Wherever, Forever," and has closed almost all of its offices -- including its headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in the UK and in India.

"We're allowing our 140 employees to work from wherever, even after the pandemic is over," Kennedy said. "For us, this means we can take advantage of the flexibility, productivity and effectiveness that our team has already experienced working remotely during the pandemic."

The company surveyed employees last year and found out what they wanted and what was working best. "We wanted to make sure we had the right capabilities, the right technologies, and the right infrastructure. What we learned is that remote work has turned out to be better for our employees and our company. It's a great way for them to have work-life balance and flexibility and also drive the most productive company going forward," Kennedy said.

Qumu has implemented a new SaaS human resources tool that allows for feedback on a daily basis, and dashboards and other information-sharing elements are being considered, he added.
 
At TELUS International, nearly 100% of employees have been working remotely for a year and the company has developed and launched new cloud-enabled technological innovations to power all aspects of remote work, said CIO Mike Ringman.
 
"But as we move forward, closely monitoring the impacts and outcomes of the evolving pandemic, and in ongoing consultation with our clients, we anticipate further developing a digital-native, dynamic global team that is agile, scalable, backed by the right infrastructure and equipped with next-gen tools to be capable of working from wherever the work needs to be done. We know that ensuring our IT infrastructure is cloud-enabled will continue to be vital to ensure we remain flexible enough to successfully take on any future iterations of working models," Ringman said.

There are challenges to consider in fostering a culture of collaboration, he continued. "It can be challenging to foster engagement for remote employees on a sustained basis, but we know that authentic leadership in combination with advanced communication channels and collaboration tools, such as internal social media apps, videoconferencing, chat and Google Drive can make all the difference."

At Olive, CEO Sean Lane said, "In May of 2020 we introduced a flexible workforce model called The Grid. We knew that traditional workplace requirements were no longer needed and wanted to empower our employees to work wherever they are most effective. So that's why we introduced The Grid, a work model where we don't all have to be physically together to be a highly successful company. Since implementing The Grid, we've increased our monthly hires by 300% and grown from approximately 200 employees to over 600."

"We've also become much more distributed, with 77% of our new hires work not local to our headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. We now have employees in 40+ states and five 'sub-stations' (smaller hub offices in locations with 10+ employees) in addition to our HQ. Looking to the future, our Grid model is here to stay. We will never require employees to 'go back'. For us, monolithic offices are dead, and we will innovate our model to ensure we have the best talent to power Olive going forward."

It's important for companies to recognize the importance of offering a remote work choice to employees now and in the future. 

Kirk Yamamoto, advisory board member at BWG Strategy LLC, said, "Honestly, if this hiring option isn't available, you will lose the opportunity to hire qualified candidates who really require remote work in order to maintain their work/life balance. Look at the larger tech companies in northern California who've already fully embraced WFH. They're smart enough to understand to be competitive in this job market, you have to offer the option."

Here are this month's CIO Jury participants:

Sam Soheil Farajian, chief information and digital officer, Toastmasters International
Mike Ferris, global IT director of infrastructure, Lincoln Electric
Christine Schoeff, senior vice president of HR, FourKites
Michael Litt, CEO, Vidyard
Kirk Yamamoto, advisory board member, BWG Strategy LLC
TJ Kennedy, president and CEO, Qumu
Sean Lane, CEO, Olive
Dan Gallivan, director of information technology, Payette
John Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services, Coast Central Credit Union
Randy Krzyston, senior manager, IT security and compliance, Brinks Home Security
Kris Seeburn, independent IT consultant, evangelist, and researcher
Mike Ringman, CIO, TELUS