Against Remote Work or Not, Mobility Managers Need to Discuss with Assignees

As a global mobility professional looking to sign up new talents, it’s good to keep tabs on the current mindset of workers these days. A May survey of 1,000 US adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. Among millennials and Gen Z, that figure was 49% based on the poll by Morning Consult for Bloomberg News. Many workers would rather quit than go back to work.

Why? According to 2,100 FlexJobs survey respondents, they enjoyed not having to commute as well as the cost savings it affords them. Many workers have embraced remote work as the new normal to an extreme degree that they’d rather resign.

Leaving many employers with no choice, some are offering incentives and “disincentives.” Some states are offering one-time cash bonuses to workers who return to their offices. Others are ending federal unemployment benefits early. 

With the power having shifted to workers, securing talents with incentives or flexible work arrangements is more crucial than ever. Doist came up with a list of things for employers and mobility managers to ask talents who prefer to do remote work.

Research industries and organizations that are open to remote work. Many tech companies in the Bay Area such as Twitter are open to remote work; other sectors, not so much. Legacy companies have work policies that they have not updated, while others are too small to have any structure in place. Assignees know as much.

Ask assignees how they will handle remote work

Assignees do their research as well and know the companies that are willing to accept their demands. For this reason, it’s important also for mobility managers to distinguish the type of assignees that are open to on-site or hybrid work arrangements.

Asking them ahead of time is good, asking them the right questions is even better. An independent mobility manager, not related to a direct employer, could ask them if they are too direct and considered rude.

  • How would they do their job well or better? The manner this question is asked is crucial, because it could be potentially offensive if said in the wrong tone
  • How would they be more productive at home compared to the office? 
  • Would they be better able to focus on their work? 
  • How would they drill down into projects without interruption?
  • Are they willing to be on a virtual conference call during the day? Employers may rely too much on having someone online for most of the time as opposed to having them on-site, where just seeing them is already sufficient

Having workers answer these tough questions that they don’t ask themselves will go a long way in finding out if the resistance is simply based on few qualms or if this is their newly acquired comfort zone that they can’t shake off anymore. 

Knowing your talents’ worries is vital, making them think if they are sold on the idea of remote work is another. It helps to dig deep into their concerns to see if they will consider changing their mind or not.

And if they are serious about working from home, it’d be good to see if HR can come up with a list of choices for them when it comes to work arrangements. This way, there’s less back and forth negotiation. 

If their decision to do remote work is final

Here are some tips for HR and global mobility managers if workers have decided to do remote work with finality:

  • Preparing a remote work schedule
  • Have a descriptive list of key roles and responsibilities for on-site, hybrid and remote work, if warranted
  • Set up a communication tool for them to interact with their colleagues
  • Iron out how performance will be evaluated (milestones or timelines)
  • Have the office set up your home office, if necessary and the assignee is amenable to it (including the provision of a laptop, PC monitor and other necessary equipment)
  • Have them prepare or learn how to structure their presentations or meetings with team for better organization

Having assignees see the pros and cons of remote work versus hybrid work versus on-site work is good. This way, assignees can see the long-term value of each work arrangement and how they’re going to benefit them, in both the short term and long term, especially when it comes to being rewarded for a job well done later. (Dennis Clemente)