Risk Update

Evolving Staffing Perspectives — Risks and Rewards of Remote Work

Following yesterday’s post on recruiting, training and developing law firm risk staff, this article  caught my eye. While not focused on the legal profession, this piece in the Wall Street Journal on evolving perspectives on remote work was fascinating, resonated in several respects. It’s well worth a read for anyone navigating these shifting streams: “Companies start to think remote work isn’t so great after all” —

  • “Four months ago, employees at many U.S. companies went home and did something incredible: They got their work done, seemingly without missing a beat. Executives were amazed at how well their workers performed remotely, even while juggling child care and the distractions of home. Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc., among others, quickly said they would embrace remote work long term. Some companies even vowed to give up their physical office spaces entirely.”
  • “Now, as the work-from-home experiment stretches on, some cracks are starting to emerge. Projects take longer. Training is tougher. Hiring and integrating new employees, more complicated. Some employers say their workers appear less connected and bosses fear that younger professionals aren’t developing at the same rate as they would in offices, sitting next to colleagues and absorbing how they do their jobs.”
  • “Months into a pandemic that rapidly reshaped how companies operate, an increasing number of executives now say that remote work, while necessary for safety much of this year, is not their preferred long-term solution once the coronavirus crisis passes.”
  • “‘There’s sort of an emerging sense behind the scenes of executives saying, ‘This is not going to be sustainable,’’ said Laszlo Bock, chief executive of human-resources startup Humu and the former HR chief at Google. No CEO should be surprised that the early productivity gains companies witnessed as remote work took hold have peaked and leveled off, he adds, because workers left offices in March armed with laptops and a sense of doom.”
  • “Few companies expect remote work to go away in the near term, though the evolving thinking among many CEOs reflects a significant shift from the early days of the pandemic.”
  • “One benefit of working together in person, many executives said, is the potential for spontaneous interactions. Mary Bilbrey, global chief human resources officer at real-estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., returned to her Chicago office in early June, as the company reopened its spaces. She noticed that she was soon having conversations with peers that wouldn’t have happened in a remote set up—a discussion sparked by a passing question in the hall, for instance. ‘They weren’t going to think about scheduling a 30 minute call to do it,’ she said.”
  • “The toll of extended work-from-home arrangements is likely to affect career development, particularly for younger workers, several executives said… And then there’s the challenge of training employees who began work after the pandemic began and have had to work remotely from the start… They don’t have the same casual day-to-day opportunities to ask more experienced workers for help or advice that they would if they were working in the same office, even as the company has tried to connect people virtually. New employees in marketing and analytics roles haven’t been able to quickly pick up company jargon and shorthand in meetings, leaving some of them lost.”
  • “More companies now envision a hybrid future, with more time spent working remote, yet with opportunities to regularly convene teams.”