The WFH Revolution Is Here…Forever. Are You Ready For It?

3 actions you should take now.

By Alan Collins

It’s here! And for some organizations, it’s here…forever!

Just last week, Twitter announced plans to offer every single one of its employees the option to WFH (work from home) permanently. Forever.

Square announced the same thing a few days ago.

So did Facebook.

Wow!

One thing is certain, more organizations are sure to follow their lead.

Think about it? It only took two freakin’ months for this revolution to happen!

When the CONVID-19 first pushed us from our workplaces to our homes, many of us in HR assumed it would only be temporary. I certainly did.

I was also part of the crowd that thought that once the worst of the virus had passed and we given the green light, we’d all return to the office to resume business as usual.

How wrong I was.

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Sadly, not everyone will be coming back.

Not only has this Great Pandamic created a WFH revolution, it has done even more collateral damage.

It has endangered the status quo of
employer-provided office space too.


A prime example is Nationwide.  They announced last week that they’d be reducing their office footprint from 20 physical offices pre-crisis to just 4 moving forward. That’s an 80% reduction. Wow!

The HR implications of all this simply stunning. I’m sure every business leader on the planet, along with their HR leader, is rethinking their employee proposition and business model. Here are a few of the key questions they’re grappling with:

Prime office space is costly, especially if it isn’t fully utilized. What should we do?

Can we afford to be 100% WFH and still be effective? If we can’t, what will it do to our people and our culture? How quickly can we transform how we provide services, goods and value?

And, finally, if we want to attract and retain top talent in the future and we’re not 100% WFH — who do we offer the WFH option to? What criteria determines who gets it and who doesn’t? What impact will this have on morale, teamwork and engagement?

These aren’t easy issues to deal with. But they must be addressed if these organizations want to be competitive in the future.

And while no one has a crystal ball, we all need to prepare ourselves to adapt to this new normal.  A world in which lots of HR roles and office employees will no longer commute to a physical office as much as we did before.

From a career standpoint, that doesn’t mean you’ll never go into an office again — far from it.

My guess is that many organizations will at a minimum consider the following:

Paring down their physical footprint and move to temporary hot desks for employees to use when they come in every so often.

Some important meetings will still be conducted in person. That means you’ll still have to figure out how to stay awake during a boring, dry PowerPoint pitch.

And, some types of businesses that require close collaboration in person will stick to the physical format — and if you fall into that group, you may not see much of a long-term impact at all.

But, more than likely, you will see your office environment permanently changed on the other side of this crisis, especially as more and more companies suffer financial pain and look to cut costs wherever they can.

That means you need to begin to mentally and physically prepare yourself for this new way of working, if you’re aiming for continued success as an HR pro in the future.

With that in mind, here are 3 things you should be focusing on right now to get ready for this revolution.

*  *  *

First of all, begin creating your ideal WFH set up.

When it comes to working from home, not all work spaces are created equal.

If you have a home with a proper office complete with desk, work chair, and all the workplace trappings, you’re probably sitting pretty right now.

But, if you’re in a 500 square foot studio apartment and you’ve been balancing your laptop on your bed or coffee table,  you might not be doing so hot.

Or if you love your home, but your work environment sucks, you need to start thinking about a permanent solution.

That could be carving out a special area in your place with everything you need, or it could even mean moving to a new home entirely.

In Chicago, we’re already seeing real estate agents marketing homes as “work from home friendly” to tempt potential buyers.

And, already there’s buzz about a mass exodus from the expensive downtown area in our city, as folks rethink commuting as much into an office  — which is trend happening in other cities around the world.

Needless to say, for your WFH set up, there’s a lot to consider. I’ve provided some additional ideas for you here.

*  *  *

Secondly, keep your networking game strong.

Just because nobody is going into an office right now doesn’t mean office politics have ceased to exist.

They’re just different.

It’s imperative that you continue to be present and visible with your boss, clients, HR colleagues, and other higher ups, so they’re aware of what you’re contributing.

It’s a good career strategy to talk to at least two people on your immediate team every day to maintain your work connections. With everyone sitting at home without much to do (except if you have kids, of course), more people are likely to be open to networking and having casual conversations as a way to deepen relationships.

You’ll also want to continue to build in time to connect with your virtual network on LinkedIn. This means continuing to put up short posts; send links to helpful articles; and exchange job leads with those close contacts outside of your organization. This is a great way to stay on top of potential career opportunities in HR, even if you aren’t actively looking for a job (which is the best time to do it).

*  *  *

Finally, get insanely great at managing your time.

The HR folks best positioned to succeed coming out of this crisis are those who will have learned to master their time and be as productive as possible while working from home.

The ability to work well from home will no longer be an option for most employers — it will be a requirement.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this worked its way into HR interviews moving forward, with questions like, “So, tell me about your work from home setup. What are some of the ways you stay productive?”

You’ll need great answers to these types of questions with solid evidence of your comfort and proficiency at working from home.

And, don’t forget to hone your virtual communication and collaboration skills as well.

Oh, and one more thing…if you’re an HR leader, your skills in leading remote teams will be more critical. Even if you’re in the office, it’s highly probable that not all your direct reports will be.  So be sure to download this one-page tip sheet for remote HR leaders here.

That said, let’s wrap things up.

*  *  *

There’s a popular phrase that goes, “never let a good crisis go to waste.”

That phrase has never more true than now.

While you’re at home, this is your opportunity to elevate your skills to the next level.  It’s time to get ready to kick butt in the brave new normal we all have to look forward to.

Your success in HR, and even your survival, will depend on it.

Stay safe.

Onward!

*  *  *

Got additional thoughts, questions or ideas?

Are you ready for the Revolution?  Share them in the comments below by clicking HERE.

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Want more ideas for making your mark in HR, right where you are in your current role? Then check out: WINNING BIG IN HR: 100+ Powerful Strategies For Accomplishing Great Results Faster & Getting Your Clients To Rave About You As A Human Resources Professional!

For more detailed information about this book, go HERE.

OR

If you are an aspiring HR leader or anticipate moving into a new HR leadership role in leading an HR team soon, then check out. THE NEW HR LEADER’S FIRST 100 DAYS:  How To Start Strong, Hit The Ground Running & ACHIEVE SUCCESS FASTER As A New Human Resources Manager, Director or VP.

For more information about this book, go HERE.

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals including WINNING BIG IN HR. and THE NEW HR LEADER’S FIRST 100 DAYS.  He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

2 Responses to “The WFH Revolution Is Here…Forever. Are You Ready For It?”

  1. Diana Says:

    Thank you Alan, very useful insights to practice in our own WFH mode of work and share with our colleagues in other areas of expertise, as well. We need to adapt ourselves and our homes infrastructure to the new demands of working form home. Its also a new challenge which asks for a ‘work change mindset’and asks for self discipline and persistent commitment. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Alan Says:

    Great point Diana, adapting ourselves and our homes now to this new reality is smart! While it’s true that not everyone in HR will be permanently working from home, most organizations are much more receptive to this now and it’s likely that the great majority of HR pros will find themselves WFH at least a few days a month. Now’s the time to get ready. Stay safe.

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