The post-pandemic workplace is going to look a lot different. Mostly, there will be fewer people in the office.
As more Americans get vaccinated, companies are starting to think about what their reopening plans might look like. Some employers, like Spotify and TIAA have decided to invest in hybrid work models, giving employees the flexibility to work from the office, their homes, or another location.
Insider compiled a guide with the four most important things to know about the future of hybrid work.
1. Remote work is leading to burnout.
Burnout and fatigue are familiar themes of pandemic life. Meetings are booming, workdays are lengthening. And at the same time, per recent LinkedIn survey data, 74% of employees are taking “shelter” in their current job as a way of mitigating risk during tumultuous times.
While what it means to work from home isn’t going to be the same in post-pandemic life, these remote and hybrid – where you come into the office some of the time – work styles are likely to. But conflict is rising around the best way to do it without sacrificing quality, company success, or personal wellbeing.
2. Prioritizing camaraderie and communication can improve remote-work culture.
Open lines of communication are key to improving the culture when you’re working from home. Leaders ned to ensure that all employees feel informed. It’s also important to give employees the opportunity to connect in more casual settings, like a virtual happy hour, to help them feel included.
3. The rise of remote work also means the rise of the virtual headquarters.
The pandemic means some employers have reduced the amount of real estate they own or rent. Some are getting rid of offices entirely.
But this presents a new challenge for employers, who now need to recapture the visibility, casual conversations, and collaboration that came so easily in person. Their best bet, technologists working to solve the problem said, is to create a virtual HQ – a suite of office tools that allow employees to work collaboratively from home.
How is the shift to remote and hybrid work affecting B2B marketers?
Which trends will endure in the post-pandemic marketing landscape?
The dramatic shift to hybrid and remote work that has been brought about by the pandemic is set to forever alter the way B2B marketers and the organizations they work for and with do business.
Let’s take a look at some of these changes, and the trends that are likely to permanently affect B2B marketers, and I’ll offer my own perspective coming from a long-term background in remote work.
Flexibility: Remote & Hybrid Options May Come Permanent
On Monday, March 23, 2007 I started my life of working remotely — a process I wrote about last year as the pandemic first began forcing much of the workforce into unfamiliar remote work situations. In “Day 4,777: Remote Work Tips From 13+ Years As A Distance Marketer,” I looked at how B2B marketers can thrive in the new era of remote work, and offered a variety of tips I’ve picked up during my time as a remote worker.
Since then a great deal has changed in the world. I’m up to 5,106 days of working remotely, and what was once a tiny segment of the workforce has over the past year grown to encompass a massive swath of workers worldwide, including those working in the B2B marketing industry.
Leaders at organizations worldwide have shifted from what had been seen as a temporary emergency move to remote work, to implementing permanent and fundamental changes involving remote and hybrid work variations.
[bctt tweet=”“It’s a very interesting time for the history of work, not even just the history of remote work. I think fundamentally work is going to change, and it’s never going back to the way it was before.” — Liam McIvor Martin @vtamethodman” username=”toprank”]
A Convergence of Forces is Driving Remote Worker Relocation Options
This hybrid and remote work sea change has also had far-reaching and sometimes unforeseen implications. Workers in major metropolitan centers have come to realize that they’re no longer necessarily required to be tethered to a particular work location, and not just within their city, as growing numbers of professionals are leaving cities such as San Francisco and New York for locations that are a world away — and not only in size and cost-of-living.
The safe haven city Sutter’s piece focuses on is Duluth, Minnesota — which happens to be my home of the past 26 years. The city of 86,000, a few hours north of Minneapolis, is where I’ve worked remotely for some 14 years now. My wife Julie and I live next door to Duluth mayor Emily Larson, who shared with Sutter that, “We are known as the San Francisco of the North. I’ll let you decide if you think that’s true.”
Most who visit Duluth do indeed see more than physical similarities with San Francisco — the hills of Duluth line the vast waters of Lake Superior — and I have technology industry friends who have moved here from both San Francisco and New York, thanks to burgeoning remote work opportunities.
The convergence of the pandemic and ongoing climate change create a scenario where more B2B workers than ever now have opportunities to consider living wherever they wish, and as we learn more about the ramifications of widespread remote and hybrid work, many are seeing more positive elements to the shift than negative ones.
B2B marketers and the organizations they work for and with will increasingly need to address these urgent hybrid and remote work changes, whether it’s in attracting and keeping talent, how we communicate with one another, or in the very stories brands are telling in their marketing efforts.
Some of the fascinating take-aways from the Microsoft report, gathered from data in 31 counties and more than 30,000 people, along with more than a trillion anonymous signals from its Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn* products, include the following:
40 percent of the workforce has considered leaving their employer over the past year
73 percent of workers want to continue having flexible remote work options
65 percent crave spending additional in-person time with their teams
66 percent of business decision makers are considering redesigned physical work-spaces to better suit hybrid work
46 percent have said their employer doesn’t provide help with remote work expenses
67 percent want more in-person work or collaboration after the pandemic
Time spent in meetings has more than doubled
Team chat messaging has increased by 45 percent
1 in 5 have met their colleagues’ pets or family members virtually over the past year
39 percent say they’re now more likely to be their full and authentic selves at work
Remote job postings on LinkedIn have climbed by more than five times
46 percent of remote workers plan to move to a new location this year
On this last point, Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, noted in the Microsoft report that, “This shift is likely to stick, and it’s good for democratizing access to opportunity,” Kimbrough said. “Companies in major cities can hire talent from underrepresented groups that may not have the means or desire to move to a big city. And in smaller cities, companies will now have access to talent that may have a different set of skills than they had before,” she added.
B2B Marketers Rethink Hybrid & Remote Work
The shift to hybrid, flexible, and remote work options is an active and ongoing process to be certain, however significant movement has already been made. The genie of rethinking work fundamentals has been set in motion, and can’t ever be put back in its bottle.
New studies highlighting shifting perspectives on remote and hybrid work are publishing frequently, such as a recent WeWork and Workplace Intelligence report which found that 64 percent of employees said they were willing to pay for access to office space to support hybrid work, and that 75 percent would forgo at least one job benefit or perk in order to have the freedom to choose their work environment.
A Gartner survey showed that some 80 percent of business leaders plan to allow remote work once the pandemic has ended.
How B2B marketers react to these changes is likely to be crucial to thriving among increased post-pandemic competition.
We hope that this brief glimpse into a few of the remote and hybrid work changes that are already taking place, and others likely to be implemented in the years to come, will help inform your own marketing efforts.
After initial reports of Facebook turning down Black applicants for positions because they weren’t a “culture fit,” more people have filed complaints alleging similar experiences.
A Washington Post article published Tuesday said three Black applicants were rejected from jobs at Facebook despite having met all the qualifications.
The three applicants filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that investigates workplace discrimination.
“There’s no doubt you can do the job, but we’re really looking for a culture fit,” one hiring manager told one of the three candidates, according to The Post.
A Facebook operations manager, Oscar Veneszee Jr., told the paper he believes several qualified applicants he referred to jobs at the company were rejected because they weren’t a “culture fit.”
“When I was interviewing at Facebook, the thing I was told constantly was that I needed to be a culture fit, and when I tried to recruit people, I knew I needed [to] find people who were a culture fit,” he told The Post. “But unfortunately not many people I knew could pass that challenge because the culture here does not reflect the culture of Black people.”
The EEOC began investigating Facebook last summer over bias allegations, The Post added.
Critics have criticized workplaces pursuing the idea of a “culture fit” in their hiring practices because, they argue, it creates an inclination to hire white workers while sidelining people of color.
In a 2018 article published by the Society for Human Resource Management, a professional membership association in Alexandria, Virginia, one HR expert said “culture fit” is subjective and indicates the hiring decision is largely not based “on the candidate’s ability to deliver results.”
A Facebook spokesperson, when reached for comment, gave the following statement.
“We’ve added diversity and inclusion goals to senior leaders’ performance reviews. We take seriously allegations of discrimination and have robust policies and processes in place for employees to report concerns, including concerns about microaggressions and policy violations,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also said the company did not take “culture fit” into account when hiring for jobs.
Rhett Lindsey, a former recruiter with Facebook, told The Post, “There is no culture fit check mark on an application form, but at Facebook it is like this invisible cloud that hangs over candidates of color.”
But the office they return to likely won’t be the same. The pandemic has reshaped how we think about personal space, interaction with other people, and how we balance our personal and professional lives.
Here’s how the office may be different when we go back in the post-pandemic era.
You’ll split your time between working in the office and at home
Only one in 10 companies anticipate all their staff to return to the office after the pandemic, according to a report by the National Association for Business Economics. Workers have been forced to adapt to, and have now grown comfortable with, spending their regular 9-to-5’s in their homes. But research also suggests that the traditional office setup provides human connection, something many also need after an isolating year.
So “flex” or hybrid work models will likely take over.
Google, Microsoft, Walmart, and others have announced when they welcome their workforces back to the office, they will still allow their employees to work remotely a few days a week. Google, for example, said it will let its staff work two days from home and three days in the office starting in September. Citigroup, Ford, and Target have announced similar plans.
There could be downsides to not going into the office as often. For example, as the Washington Post noted, one potential issue could be management favoring workers that are coming into the physical workplace more than those that are not.
Otherwise known as “hot offices” or “hoteling” workstations, companies will swap personal desks with tabletops that employees can reserve for the days that they plan to be in the office.
Offices will likely cater to in-person interaction, with employees coming in to work on collaborative projects. So think open workspaces and fewer personal workstations.
If you moved during the pandemic, you may enjoy the ‘hub-and-spoke’ office concept
As offices shuttered, people transitioned to working remotely, opening up the possibility to relocate to more affordable parts of town or even new cities. Employers will have to factor in their remote and distributed workforces when they usher people back.
The “hub-and-spoke” or”spoke-and-wheel” office concept has been being thrown around for months as a tenet of the “future of work.” It means companies will maintain a smaller central workspace while erecting smaller satellite offices closer to where employees live, such as in the suburbs.
Fast Company reported that Deloitte and KPMG were looking into the model in September, and the hub-and-spoke idea is also making waves in the tech world. Many in the pricey Bay Area have sought more affordable living in suburbs or in other cities altogether, and companies like Amazon, Apple, and Uber have begun making expansions into new markets to meet their employees halfway.
We’ve been living in sweatpants for the past year, and while those may not be appropriate for when we return to the office, we may not be wearing three-piece suits either.
As Inc reported, an “elevated casual” dress code may become the norm as many divide their time between the home and the office, though some industries – like banking and government – will likely be exempt from any sort of pandemic-driven fashion shift.
But employers at large may be more accepting of a pared-down wardrobe. As one expert told Today, “it’s difficult to make any human being change once you get used to it. Who wants to put on a suit?”
These internal and third-party investigations are generally designed to determine the validity of serious allegations in the workplace.
But there are many ways they can be invalidated or illegitimized, according to employment law experts and workplace investigators. Some even say companies and organizations sometimes conduct sham investigations that might amount to nothing more than a PR stunt.
Here’s what we learned:
Most workplace issues don’t get reported because of fear of retaliation.
Oftentimes an investigation is launched when an employee contacts an HR rep or reports an allegation to management. That’s the case for about 90% of employers, according to Jared Pope, HR attorney and founder of Work Shield, an employer strategy company that conducts workplace investigations.
Still, about 75% of workplace issues don’t get reported because of a fear of retaliation or other negative repercussions, Pope told Insider.
“Members of management teams have an obligation to ensure that employee complaints are taken seriously and properly investigated to bring a halt to misconduct and apply appropriate remedies,” said Natalie Ivey CEO of HR development firm Results Performance Consulting and author of “How to Conduct Internal Investigations.”
Other times, investigations sprout after allegations arise in media reports, such as Insider’s report that found top male leadership at United Way had engaged in misogyny for decades.
“It’s a toss-up,” Pope told Insider. “Most issues don’t get reported due to fear and those that get covered in the media are those that were once raised to a supervisor, manager, or HR (human resources), but not acted upon or dealt with appropriately in a prompt and reasonable manner.”
Just “a fraction” of companies actually follow up on anonymous allegations, said Juliette Gust, president of Ethics Suite, a workplace misconduct reporting channel.
The goal of all investigations is to determine the credibility of misconduct claims. But credibility is hard to quantify and depends on a lot of factors like how public and exhaustive the results are, according to experts who spoke with Insider. And the investigation’s credibility also depends on whether companies and organizations take allegations seriously as soon as they are disclosed.
Additionally, employers and third-party investigators can often employ different protocols, leading to inconsistency in how investigations are carried out.
There is no one way to conduct an investigation.
But experts generally agree that a valid investigation must meet the following parameters:
There must be a known system in place that employees feel able to use to come forward with any allegations.
Investigators must quickly collect and preserve any physical and digital evidence that pertains to any allegations.
Investigators are expected to interview all complainant(s), witnesses, and subjects.
After collecting evidence, investigators must analyze it and reach reasoned conclusions.
The investigator must be impartial and well-trained.
“While there are no nation-wide codified standard practices governing how internal workplace investigations are conducted, there are standard practices,” said workplace investigator Lorene Schaefer.
Such standards often derive from guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that investigates workplace sex discrimination and retaliation.
For publicly traded companies, the Justice Department has a document outlining the steps to carry out a proper investigation, Gust of Ethics Suite said. Private companies, however, don’t have a single method to turn to. And variables like geographic areas and type of entities can also alter the course of an investigation and its results.
“So while there are some standards for preparation, collection and analysis of evidence, reaching conclusions and presenting findings – there are going to be some differences in how investigations are conducted even within different parts of the same organization because of those variables,” Ivey told Insider.
There’s an argument in favor of enforcing set standards to conduct an investigation. Pope, for example, said a standard “by which to judge others” would be helpful and a solid step in allowing “employee’s voices to be heard” more efficiently.
Gust told Insider she believes it would “not be realistic to expect all organizations to adhere to the same codified set standard for investigations.” Different organizations and companies, she said, have different resources and skillsets, which complicates the notion of a set standard across the board.
Ivey said it’s far more important that a well-trained investigator handles the case than it is for there to be a codified system in place.
Without well-trained investigators who are able to remain impartial, collect documents effectively, and analyze evidence, the results of an investigation might not be complete or present an accurate portrayal of internal affairs.
In the event that an investigation is carried out unjustly or without adhering to these general standards, afflicted parties can often seek recourse in state and federal courts, Schaefer said.
The ‘#MeToo scrutiny’ intensified workplace probes.
According to Schaefer, boards of directors across the country felt “intense scrutiny” resulting from the #MeToo movement, which galvanized a culture of speaking out against sexual abuse and misconduct.
The “scrutiny” came as investors alleged “Board of Directors were aware of executives’ alleged harassment and misconduct and failed to take action or disclose it,” Schaefer said. In nonprofits, the same pressure ramped up.
In turn, boards of directors began to more heavily question whether they provide sufficient oversight “to mitigate and manage claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation,” she said.
“This #MeToo scrutiny of boards of directors and their response to the #MeToo movement is not going away,” Schaefer said. “If anything, I predict the spotlight of scrutiny is going to get brighter and more intense with more investor/donor activism.”
A 2020 report published by the National Women’s Law Center and the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund found that 72% of people who experienced harassment in the workplace were retaliated against when they spoke up. Of the people surveyed who reported the harassment, nearly two in five said their perpetrators had not been held accountable.
United Way in February released the results of an investigation into allegations of misogyny and retaliation from former employees.
Three women who spoke up about sexual harassment said they faced retaliation for doing so in a November report from HuffPost, and more former employees came forward to Insider in December with allegations that the nonprofit’s culture of misogyny spanned decades.
The investigation carried out by a third-party law firm at the behest of United Way Worldwide found “the employment decisions made with respect to the three employees at issue were found to be based on legitimate, non-discriminatory, and non-retaliatory reasons.”
Neither United Way nor Proskauer Rose, the law firm that conducted the investigation, returned requests for comment asking whether the investigation hit the standards outlined by these experts.
Shortly after its release, United Way’s CEO Brian Gallagher resigned. But the women who had come forward with the allegations to Insider said they were never contacted to participate in the internal investigation.
That could be for several reasons, investigators said. An organization might deliberately choose not to contact former employees because they “may be in an adversarial position against the company,” Gust said.
It could also just be a public relations stunt, Pope said.
Workplace investigations that do not contact complainants generally have little merit and are “suspicious,” Merrick Rossein, an employment-law consultant and professor at the CUNY School of Law, told Insider.
“If the people who made the complaints have not been interviewed by this third party, then you can say there was no real investigation,” Rossein added.
The Economist’s Glass Ceiling Index is a yearly assessment of countries where women have the best and worst chances of equal treatment in the workplace. The report analyzes a group of affluent countries that make up the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The analysis takes into account several indicators: higher education, labor-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity and paternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs.
The report found that over the past year the US has seen some improvement in female representation in management positions, moving the country up four spots from the previous year.
Across the OECD, women account for about than one-third of leadership roles, according to The Economist. The analysis also found progress to the top of companies is slow for women in most OECD countries.
The report ranked Scandinavia as the top country for working women, while South Korea and Japan ranked last.
When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, it’s only natural to wonder what an influencer actually looks like?
In our third season of Break Free B2B Marketing video interviews we’re continuing in-depth conversations with a powerful selection of top B2B influencers, and exploring the issues that each expert is influential about.
All successful B2B influencers have a rare mix of the 5 Ps — proficiency, personality, publishing, promotion, and popularity — as our CEO Lee Odden has outlined in “5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers.”
Incorporating all of these qualities and more is Liam McIvor Martin, co-founder of Time Doctor, who we’re thrilled to be profiling today.
2020 was a year of immense change that has continued into 2021. One change that’s been especially significant for B2B marketers is the rise of remote work. Remote work has always been around, but 2020 saw it change from option to necessity. Businesses large and small have had to send their employees home to quarantine and stay safe in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many of these decisions had to be made quickly. Whenever a process is rushed, there’s an increased chance of things going wrong. That’s why businesses are wondering where those pitfalls lie, how they can avoid them, and beyond. That’s why we asked Liam McIvor Martin to appear on Season 3 of the Break Free B2B Marketing interview series.
Liam has been answering questions about remote work for years – and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He has the credentials to prove it: he’s the co-founder of TimeDoctor, a leader in time tracking software, and the co-organizer of Running Remote, the world’s largest conference on building and scaling remote teams.
In today’s 37 minute interview with TopRank’s Nick Nelson he’ll be sharing the expertise he’s gained over his years promoting remote work.
Break Free B2B Interview with Liam McIvor Martin
If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.
1:30 – Introduction to Liam McIvor Martin
4:45 – Trends in remote work
7:05 – Definable advantages of remote work for businesses
10:48 – How to keep your team tight knit while working hybrid or remote
16:55 – Examples of companies making transformational shifts and overcoming remote work related challenges
20:27 – Things preventing businesses from finding success with remote work
26:25 – Recommendations for solutions or products that can benefit companies looking to find as much success as possible with remote work
29:26 – How Liam developed his personal brand
33:30 – Where to find Liam and how to get in touch
Nick: I think we can all look at the trends and see that the remote work and work flexibility were very much on the rise before 2020 and all of its events. Can you talk a little bit about the sort of the trends you were seeing leading up to this, and the impact that you’ve seen from the pandemic and its effects?
Liam: Sure. So, in 2018, 5.5% of the U.S. workforce was working full time remotely. The OECD and U.S. Census defines that as more than four days a week working outside of the office. So that’s a really important qualifier there because remote-first companies, which is what we are, were in 37 different countries all over the world. We don’t have any offices. We work entirely remote. But post-COVID, it’s at 58% — which is nuts. So we went from 5.5% to 58%. And we were projected to actually be at 50% by 2027. We literally just jumped five years into the future.
We’ve seen Twitter go remote, we see Google saying they’re going to stay remote by 2022. Facebook is going 50% remote, Shopify — all of these companies are going remote now and we’re really starting to see a tide change. Recognizing that remote is not only a better economic decision for employers, but it’s also a much better decision for the employee. So there’s a really interesting push pull, and my estimate is that after COVID is over — and I mean vaccine-over — we’re probably going to float to around 50% of the U.S. workforce working remotely. You’re sitting in an empty office right now. I think there’s gonna be a lot more of those in the next couple years.
[bctt tweet=”“My estimate is that after COVID is over, and I mean vaccine-over, we’re probably going to float to around 50% of the US workforce working remotely.” — Liam McIvor Martin @vtamethodman #BreakFreeB2B #remotework” username=”toprank”]
Nick: Yes, the impacts across the board are going to be really interesting. You talked a little bit about how the benefits are being seen on the business side. For instance, not having to pay for a physical office space is huge for a business. I think a lot of companies and people are really starting to see these benefits. What would you say are these advantages that are coming out that people are starting to see? Any surprising ones?
Liam: Sure. The biggest problem that people had with going remote, which was actually the biggest problem, and still is the biggest problem that Time Doctor addresses is, well, how do I know what those people are doing if I can’t see them. That’s what Time Doctor fundamentally solves. And then there’s a whole bunch of other tools that are out there that can also solve other aspects of remote work as well.
But, fundamentally, a whole bunch of people tried this en masse. And they realized that within the first month, two months, three months — man — the numbers are coming back. And they’re as productive, if not more productive than when they were in the office. And that’s actually quite counterintuitive. And it’s quite interesting. When we look at the research — and there’s very little research that’s been done — but a lot more research that’s currently being done. There are more distractions at home — there’s kids, there’s your dog, there’s PlayStation, there’s, you know, CNN — there’s all of these different distractions that occur. However, if you remove the commute, which on average is about two and a half hours per day, for every working person — if you literally just deployed that as sleep, you’re going to get a much more productive person. So it’s not necessarily that remote work is more productive, it’s that you’re actually removing a major chunk of your day, which is sitting in a car back and forth, or sitting on a bus or a train or something like that back and forth, to be able to earn that time back.
On the employer side, employers are recognizing at this point that it’s just as productive. People are pretty happy. We just did a poll at the Running Remote online event that asked every one of those who were recently remote, how many of you are canceling your office leases, and 22% said that they’re canceling their office leases. And when you think about that, a lot of them are saying, “Well, we’re cancelling our office lease, but we still have a year and a half left, or we still have two years left on that office lease.” So that actually is a really interesting trigger inside of the economy that hasn’t been fully recognized yet. Because everyone’s still getting paid. But within the next eight to 24 months, I think you’re going to see an entire collapse of the office kind of rental space — the commercial lease space.
So there’s a bunch of things that are going on, and we really don’t know what the future is going to hold, but I know for sure that remote is definitely going to be a bigger piece of the pie.
[bctt tweet=”“Fundamentally, a whole bunch of people tried this en masse and realized that within the first months, man, the numbers are coming back, and they’re as productive, if not more productive than when they were in the office.” @vtamethodman” username=”toprank”]
Keep your eye on the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Also check out episodes from season 1 and season 2.
Take your B2B marketing to new heights by checking out out previous season 3 episodes of Break Free B2B Marketing: