RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • COVID-19 compelled businesses to adopt new remote and virtual ways of working and servicing customers with impressive speed. Is it sustainable?
  • Gartner says 47 percent of organisations now intend to allow their employees to work remotely full time. How can businesses make it work?
  • The winners will be those companies who thrive in the new ways of working, not just in working remotely. Here’s what to do NOW and NEXT.


The COVID-19 crisis compelled organisations to rapidly adopt new remote and virtual ways of working to service their customers. Now, as we enter a period of complexity, uncertainty and new opportunities—the ‘never normal’—businesses need to look at the pros and cons of remote working. Can they make this new reality work for them beyond COVID-19?

Through the pandemic (and it’s not done yet) businesses switched to a remote workforce, virtual service delivery models and more human-machine collaboration to deliver vital services to customers. While remote working at this scale was never a choice, it has, for the most part, worked. But is it sustainable?

A July Gartner study indicated that 47 percent of organisations intend to allow their employees to work remotely full time going forward. Will going remote post COVID work for your organisation?

Remote working at the current scale was never a choice but a necessity and for the most part it has worked.

1. Accenture Research 2. Global Workplace Analytics

Remote working pros and cons

For business, the benefits are considerable: a typical employer can save $11,000 for every person that works remotely for 50 percent of the time. They also get access to a larger pool of talent, and may see increased productivity. For employees, remote working means more flexibility, less travel time and, for some, improved employee satisfaction. However, as organisations, roles and individuals differ, remote working might not be for everyone—just yet.

Individual resilience varies, as do the practicalities for different individuals working from home. In addition, the day-to-day office experiences that create a culture, from whiteboard sessions to coffee breaks and lunch table get-togethers, have disappeared. With limited guidelines on how to make it work and who to turn to—gaps in basic physical, mental and relational needs are beginning to emerge.

  • 57% of workers say it is difficult to switch off.
  • 65% of employees working from home rank new technology hardware as the number one area of support that would make remote working easier.

To succeed, organisations need to help their employees build resilience in new ways of working. Is remote working for your organisation?

As we enter this period of ‘never normal’, NOW is the time to reflect and to decide: how can we make this new reality work for us?

Key questions to ask include:

  • Do your people have the financial means to set up and sustain a home office?
  • Is your workforce digitally fluent?
  • Do your people feel valued and included as a part of your culture?
  • Do/did people enjoy the remote working experience? Is/was there adequate support?
  • Do employees have routines in place to manage their day?
  • Is there trust in leadership?

Taking the plunge

If you are thinking of taking the plunge, there are five interconnected areas you need to focus on.

Create a fact base of what is going on with your people

What has worked, what hasn't and what do your teams need?

Define your remote working strategy and operating model

You can't simply extend the emergency—be deliberate!

Align key processes and policies to support your model

Performance, motivation and culture need to be re-defined.

Make it easy for your people & protect your organisation

Design your “work-from-home-in-a-box” solution.

Evolve your culture and experience to make remote working thrive

Treat this like you would every other large change—improve over time!

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What to do now & next to adapt to the new normal?

The winners will be those companies who thrive in the new ways of working, not just in working remotely. ‘The never normal; New ways of working beyond the crisis’ provides insights and guidelines to get you through the first three, six and 12 months.

Resilience beyond COVID-19 means doing more than just reopening for business; it means seizing the opportunity to do things differently, to innovate and to do the previously unthinkable. By actively building your New Ways of Working solution, grounding it in data analytics and behavioural science, and executing it in a truly human way, you can create a new employee value proposition and transform your culture.

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