Retaining Talent in a Work From Anywhere Environment 

By Shawn Belling 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, “remote” work was often seen as a perk for employees. Resistance to allowing employees to work remotely often stemmed from a distrust that employees would be productive if they were not able to be “seen” by management. But for many organizations forced to go virtual with the 2020 pandemic, that turned out not to be the case. 

Now, as organizations are “opening back up” and many are actively hiring, the challenge of retaining talent continues to be top of mind. So how can managers and organizations retain talent in the evolving work environment? 

The Office May No Longer Be Essential 

One critical element in retaining talent in a remote/hybrid work world is to completely and publicly commit to offering fully remote work in the first place. I have been in conversations with leaders who are complaining about losing existing and potential employees to other employers in their area who can offer 100% remote work. These leaders are working for companies who are patting themselves on the back for “only” requiring people to be in the office three days a week.  

In the year 2022, after the two years of experience with the pandemic and with plenty of highly visible and successful examples of fully remote companies, the thought that knowledge and technology workers should be “allowed” to “only” come in three days per week is patently outdated. 

Rather than worrying about getting people back to the office, managers should be thinking about how to adapt the culture of their organization to suit what will clearly be a long-term mode of working. Time and energy should not be wasted worrying about getting people back to the office but instead spent on planning for sustained changes to what represents work, workplaces, and everything to do with work.  

A related element is to completely banish from one’s mind the idea that remote work is a “perk” or a “privilege” to be earned. Remote work is expected. If you remain in the camp of leaders who feel like you must see people to trust that they are being productive, you need to rethink if your leadership style is helping or hindering the success of your employees and the organization as a whole. 

The business world is changing. The needs and demands of top tier talent is changing. And if managers can’t change leadership styles and offer flexibility on physical working conditions, their organizations likely will be left behind for those that are prepared to meet these new needs. 

My recent book, “Remotely Possible,” addresses strategies and techniques that will help organizations and leaders be successful in a world that will see sustained and increasing levels of remote, remote/hybrid, and distributed teams all working and functioning successfully in global organizations. 

Adapting your organization and culture to support a remote or hybrid work environment takes ongoing conversation and strategy. Set up a Discovery Session with one of the Solutions Advisors to explore how a work from anywhere policy can create a competitive advantage for your organization.  

Shawn Belling is a globally experienced technology executive, speaker, instructor, and author based in Madison, WI. Shawn has held executive and management roles in higher education, software, consulting, bio-pharma, manufacturing, and regulatory compliance sectors. Shawn is the Chief Information Officer at Madison College, and is adjunct faculty at UW– Madison and UW-Platteville as well as the University of Southern California. Shawn teaches, speaks, and consults for businesses, universities, and professional organizations on various leadership and management topics and practices. Shawn released his books Succeeding with Agile Hybrids in November of 2020 and Remotely Possible in June of 2021.