Technology has allowed us to be much more flexible with where we work. The increased focus on wellbeing and work/life balance has resulted in more flexible working arrangements. A shortage of talent in some disciplines requires out of the box thinking for recruitment.

A global pandemic forced people to work from home – and it worked…

Is it no wonder that we are seeing an increase in remote work and working from home as normal.

What does this mean for employers, managers and people practices?

We are seeing a call for return to work and a recent KPMG CEO outlook survey showed that 63% of CEOs surveyed predict a full return to work (in the office) by the end of 2026.

But staff are rebelling – is this just wishful thinking on the part of the CEOs. It undoubtedly makes things easier if everyone is in the office and working predictable hours.

In an October 22 survey of NZ employees, 83.2% said the ability to work from home made them happier.  In NZ we saw a negative response from OneNZ staff who were being asked to increase their time in the office by one day to three days per week. Ranstad NZ, in their 2024 outlook predicts that the future will continue to be flexible, that the trend for remote work is undeniable.

I chatted to Monica, a New Zealander who got used to remote work in Australia during the prolonged pandemic response. When she was looking to come home to NZ, there were limited local opportunities in her chosen field, and she accepted a role with a Global company on the proviso she could work from NZ.  Her challenges are mostly related to working across time zones. The company has good IT infrastructure and technology which helps teams to work effectively from various locations.

She enjoys the lifestyle that remote work offers her. She saves money, can work where she wants, has more flexibility in how she manages her day – which in turn means she is more active and finds she has freed up her weekends to enjoy more.

Her advice for employees working remotely is to:

  • Set clear boundaries to manage your own time and the issues of time zones.
  • Have a routine for work, focus times, personal time.
  • Don’t check emails in the evening.
  • Use time management apps such as “To Do” .
  • Have separate personal and work phones – keep personal phone away from the work space.
  • Be open with relationships with colleagues and your boss.
  • It is OK get back to people or to ask them to get back to you at a better time.
  • Have a good workspace, separate from other spaces, that you can shut down on a Friday.
  • Participate in on-line activities to build relationships and team camaraderie.
  • Get dressed for the day.
  • Get up from your desk and go for a walk.

Monica’s advice for employers is to:

  • Maintain check-ins with the team.
  • Organise some fun activities, have fun within the team.
  • Schedule one-on-one catchups regularly.

It seems that it would be difficult to reverse the trend of remote work, and do we really need to?