Remote work: 3 resolutions for leaders in 2021

Even as we try to define a post-COVID new normal, the remote work model isn't going away. Consider this advice to help your organization emerge stronger than ever
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As we move forward in 2021, many business leaders are reflecting on the lessons they’ve learned over the past twelve months due to COVID-19.

As much as we all hoped for a return to normalcy, remote work isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon – even as restrictions start to ease. Leaders are increasingly grappling with the difficult questions of when to reopen and how to ensure that their employees and visitors are returning to a safe environment.

[ Does remote work leave you exhausted? Read our related story: Remote exhaustion: 13 tips to reduce fatigue. ]

Here are three resolutions every business leader should consider as they plan for a post-pandemic future:

1. Implement contact tracing

With the vaccine rollout only just beginning across the globe, many organizations are offering their employees the option of returning to the office only if they feel it is safe. One of those safety initiatives involves contact tracing – making sure that everyone who enters the building is identified by a badge, so if an employee or visitor is diagnosed with COVID-19, anyone they may have come into contact with can be notified.

Business leaders play a unique role in keeping employees and customers safe on-site, and they have both the resources and the ability to make large-scale contact tracing a reality. As organizations move toward the new normal, the solutions they implement for workplace safety now need to be designed for the long term and embedded into business processes.

2. Offer flexible remote work strategies

When lockdowns first went into effect in early 2020, few businesses expected remote work mandates to last as long as they have. Now, nearly a year later, a majority of organizations still have employees working remotely, and it’s clear that this will continue in our new normal.

When offices finally do reopen, employees will want continued flexibility in their work environment.

The shift to remote work has changed employees’ expectations: When offices finally do reopen, employees will want continued flexibility in their work environment. To address this, business leaders must infuse remote work options into everything they do. Instead of reverting to an office-centric mindset, introduce flexible remote work strategies to attract and retain top talent. This, in turn, will support business continuity and growth.

3. Provide ongoing support for remote workers

IT leaders should think of the home as the new enterprise microbranch.

Taking a flexible approach to remote work includes extending enterprise-grade support to employees’ homes that matches the level of quality support they would receive in the office. IT leaders should think of the home as the new enterprise microbranch. Family members and roommates (including children) often share the same network that employees are using to do their jobs. To support these workers, IT departments should continue to prioritize putting workflows in place to help keep employees secure and productive, regardless of where they are located.

As the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel starts to brighten, business leaders who focus on these resolutions will emerge stronger than ever in our new normal.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Brad Minnis is vice president of environment, health safety, and security at Juniper Networks, where he is responsible for strategic design, implementation and management of the company’s security, safety, environment, crisis management, supply chain integrity, product security incident response and business continuity functions.

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