The Rise of the FlexWorker

Kiran Menon

Working From Home_Virtual Onboarding

My co-founders and I were having our usual Zoom chat a couple of days ago and we wondered what our team would say about liking or getting used to Working From Home.

So, at our All Hands the following day, I promptly asked the team. And to my surprise, the response was overwhelmingly consistent.

We love working from home, but would like to come back to the office for 2–3 days a in a week (when possible).

The message was loud & clear. People love the freedom of Work from Home, but when possible — want to also have the opportunity to come to an office to collaborate, socialize and build relationships in the physical world.

Welcome the FlexWorker.

A FlexWorker is someone who will split their work week between working from home and coming to the office on occasion.

This is not a remote worker. This is someone who may live in the same city but prefers to split their time to build a better work-life balance.

FlexWorkers will rise

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in people understanding that working from home is not easy. It’s tough. It requires discipline. And especially now — with global lockdowns in place — managing the family, entertaining kids, 3 meal times and work is quite a task.

However, it has also shown a lot of us that we can be productive at home. And maybe, when things go back to normal (at least the new normal), we can enjoy working from home for a few days and then heading to the office as and when needed.

The need for an office space will still be there. However, office spaces will become less about my work space and more about a space to collaborate with others — when needed.

For the FlexWorker, office space will be a nice-to-have. For the FlexWorker, the need to clock 9–5 will be less relevant. And the ability to be productive from where ever you want — will prevail.

There will be a huge surge in Technology and products that support this new normal.

What does it mean for companies and the economy?

One thing is for sure. The global pandemic — the largest global event in our lives — will result in a near term drop in commercial real estate. Companies will start giving up offices.

Global enterprises like TCS have already suggested that they will ask up to 75% of their workforce to work from home. This is an organization that has about 400,000 people working for it.

Mondelez, Nationwide, Barclays have all hinted about permanent work-from-home positions.

Corporate Offices are going to shrink in number. However, companies are not going to shut all offices. The ability for workers to come together and collaborate is still going to be important. And this is where the FlexWorker Economy is going to blossom.

Will office desks be a thing of the past?

May be not. We are hearing of companies that are buying office furniture and sending desks and chairs to their employee homes.

And this will continue to grow as a trend. More and more office infrastructure will move to the home. Desks, chairs, maybe printers, strong internet connections, lighting, coffee, and more :)

Companies that we work with have been able to get their workforce equipped with laptops and other facilities — literally overnight. And from a security perspective, it really does not matter where you log in from as long as you have a strong IT and security infrastructure in place.

Another important model will be hot desking. People have to book office space on a rotation basis — when they want to come to the office and make use of the facility. This will mean that a 100 person office can now suddenly accommodate 200 or maybe even 300 people.

Automation in the time of the FlexWorker

Digitization and automation of processes. That’s the key. FlexWorkers are going to need to have processes just work. Without the need for face-to-face interaction or spending tons of time for support.

Most of us must have read the meme that was doing the rounds?

Who led the digital transformation of your company? COVID.
Who led the digital transformation of your company? COVID.

Meme — but definitely a reality :) We are seeing this every day and we are seeing the need to go digital and virtual. Literally overnight.

I will keep adding more of my perspective and resources to this post — but, in the mean time, here is to the Rise of the FlexWorker.