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Recently, Google announced that they will let employees work remotely until summer of 2021. Google is the first major U.S. corporation to formalize such an extended timeframe, and this employee work-from-home policy could represent a tipping point in the shift to remote work. Curious about the implications of this announcement? We interviewed 10 people leaders across a variety of industries, and here is what these experts have to say about Google’s decision, remote jobs, and the future of work!

Laura Bloomer

Director of the LA Dorset Agency, a one-stop shop encompassing strategy, marketing, and branding for start-ups

“A true commitment to remote working is a prerequisite for any company that wants to identify as a champion for diversity & inclusion.”

“I think it was really powerful – and great PR – for Google to lead from the front like this. It’s a great way for companies to live their values and ‘walk the talk’. Google is known for being a great place to work and a center-point for innovation. Their stance on remote work solidifies this. It also shows a commitment to their staff by making accommodations to ensure they remain safe during this period. A true commitment to remote working is a prerequisite for any company that wants to identify as a champion for diversity & inclusion. Remote work moves us away from the ‘long-hours’ culture that heavily penalizes women and parents, and pushes us towards a focus on results. A shift to remote work also compels the workforce to become more resourceful & adaptive, which is necessary to remain competitive in our fast-paced, global economy. However, we also have to remember that not everyone has access to a dedicated, ergonomically compliant work-station at their homes, or a safe environment – domestic violence has doubled during COVID. Some people may really miss the social interaction and be at risk of depression. A hybrid option is a clear winner to ensure engagement from all types of employees and their working styles, especially during a global pandemic. But the option of remote working is definitely the future – it’s about creating the right environments to enable the best from our people.” 

Sania Khan

Founder of The Millennial Economist, a digital publication that aims to make macro insight accessible and relevant to all

“Google might just be ahead of the curve in announcing such a timetable and it’s likely that more companies will follow suit.”

“In my opinion, Google might just be ahead of the curve in announcing such a timetable and it’s likely that more companies will follow suit. I think day-to-day operations would probably not be affected much – most white collar work can be done remotely nowadays and we’ve been lucky to have had this pandemic hit us at such a time. There are studies that show that if COVID-19 had hit 10 years ago, the number of people who would be out of a job would be a lot higher. What are the drawbacks? Face to face interactions and meetings often inspire brainstorming and lead to richer ideas. This is one of the US’ main strengths and we should not allow this pandemic let us fall behind on this front. Firms have imposed a number of special measures to limit the negative financial effects of COVID-19, including freezing hiring as well as terminating and furloughing employees. According to the Business Conditions Survey by the National Association of Business Economics, one in three firms has resumed normal operations, but nearly as many business leaders say they don’t expect their firms to return to normal operations for more than six months.”

Trav Walkowski

Partner/VP of Human Resources & People Strategy at Employmetrics, a global Human Resources Consultancy

“I think the remote-only or at least remote-first strategy is the future of work. I think we will soon start having a remote percentage as a required part of every job posting and job description. Even those companies that were stuck in the past and refused to adapt to remote work before COVID have now realized that it works.”

“We know that COVID isn’t going to be over any time soon so pushing a return-to-office date out incrementally creates a sense of chaos. Now Google’s people know that they can plan things around working-from-home for almost an entire year – and that should help with the anxiety around all of the uncertainty. We know from research that working from home can increase productivity. At Employmetrics, we decided that working remotely works so well for us that we aren’t going back to our offices. I think the remote-only or at least remote-first strategy is the future of work. I think we will soon start having a remote percentage as a required part of every job posting and job description. Even those companies that were stuck in the past and refused to adapt to remote work before COVID have now realized that it works. Those of us in organizational psychology have been saying this for years, but now that they can no longer kick the can down the road, they finally realize that we’re right. Remote work is here to stay and that is great!”

Erin Hinkle

Co-Founder of BuildRise HR, a people operations firm dedicated to helping leaders build their companies and manage change

“If employees can make their own decisions about where they feel safe on a daily basis, leaders can focus the company’s resources on what matters most right now: adaptation and continuity, not just of business but also of employee experience.”

“Any company that doesn’t require their employees to be on-site, like what Google is doing, is being very smart. Why? Because they’re not bogging down their resources (money, time, strategic decision-making, emotional labor etc.) with liabilities associated with returning to the office. OSHA safety compliance landscape is continuously evolving their guidance and 35,000 lawsuits – and counting! – have already been brought to employers from employees who feel their safety has been compromised. Additionally, not being on-site gives companies more time to manage and develop physical safety adaptations for the office. There’s also more time to develop a game plan and adapted policies for the hot-potato employee-relations issues that companies should expect. If employees can make their own decisions about where they feel safe on a daily basis, leaders can focus the company’s resources on what matters most right now: adaptation and continuity, not just of business but also of employee experience.”

Samantha Patil

Co-Founder & CEO of Well Traveled, a members-only platform for trusted travel recommendations

“I’ve found that it’s harder to build relationships with people when you’re remote, but not impossible…you just have to put a little more thought into it since you won’t be seeing your co-workers at the coffee bar, the cafeteria, or on your way back to your desk.”

“I’ve worked with remote teams for most of my career. I spent the past 10 years working with international teams, supporting their growth, and serving as their point of contact in a US home office at companies including Pandora, Snap, and Dollar Shave Club. There’s a lot you can get done remotely but it takes some adjustments if you’re used to working in an office. Face-to-face time is really important. Building in time to chat, connect, talk about things that aren’t work related is also really important. I’ve found that it’s harder to build relationships with people when you’re remote, but not impossible…you just have to put a little more thought into it since you won’t be seeing your co-workers at the coffee bar, the cafeteria, or on your way back to your desk. I think if Google can help employees think of creative ways to stay connected during this time, they’ll see a lot of success with this strategy.”

Nancy Tai

VP of Strategy & People at Agency 39A, a user-centered design company on a mission to radically reduce the cost and complexity of digital products

“There is no longer a separation between work and home for many people now. It’s no longer about creating balance, but rather about creating work-life integration.”

“Phasing people back into the office is a complicated and emotional process. It differs by state, city, industry, organization, and person. I think a lot of companies want to bring people back into the office because they think that’s what’s necessary to “go back to normal”: they think it’s what people are used to, that it’s what builds culture, that it’s what keeps people connected, that it’s what they’ve always done. But I think that’s a backwards way of thinking. There is no longer a separation between work and home for many people now. It’s no longer about creating balance, but rather about creating work-life integration. How are you onboarding new employees? What are you doing about equipment needs now that everyone has a home office ? How are you setting people up for success now that they aren’t coming to an office? Is anyone talking about a shift in working times to accommodate new responsibilities and lifestyles? These are things we should start thinking about. We need to start talking about what we need to do, not what we used to do. And Google’s work-from-home policy is a great first-step.”

Jungle Bae

Founder of Herbs Heal Hearts, a global charity donating herbal based beauty products and superfoods to the victims of trauma and discrimination

Remote works means flexibility and freedom and that will in turn enhance the performance and happiness of employees.

“I believe remote work is the future! We have already been given so much support to work remotely via technology and so many tools to practice work/life balance. I do feel this new change of operations for Google may lead to some day-to-day problems. However, I also know that Google has a very robust training program to support its employees. I find the idea of remote work empowering. As a wellness entrepreneur, I find leading my team and working in my own environment allows me to be more productive. Everyone is learning to adapt to different environments and stuffy offices are no longer the way to go! Personally, there is nothing more enjoyable then powering through my to-do list and enjoying a warm cup of herbal tea, next to my Himalayan salt lamp in the comfort of my own home. Remote works means flexibility and freedom and that will in turn enhance the performance and happiness of employees.”

Stephanie Issa

Operations Manager at Obu Interactive, a leading, independently owned Digital Marketing agency

“Although I have seen the benefits of staying home during these stressful times, I’ve also realised that the combination of job pressures, along with childcare, fear, and isolation can have a negative impact on employees.”

“My company has been partially remote (and fully remote for out-of-state employees) for about a year prior to COVID. I’ve learned from the transition to remote work, both pre-COVID and currently, that WFH is more than just “working from home” – it requires a ton of operational adjustments. Although I have seen the benefits of staying home during these stressful times, I’ve also realised that the combination of job pressures, along with childcare, fear, and isolation can have a negative impact on employees. I myself am already feeling burned out! While there are benefits to staying at home, remote work can also easily push someone off the edge, especially parents with already demanding jobs. Remote work can sometimes make the most high-performing employees feel like they’re being stretched too thin, if all things considered are not properly analyzed and taken into consideration by management.” 

Michaela Burns

Founder of Hire Power Co where she helps clients figure our their best people strategy to grow their team

“Google is providing their employees with clarity and consistency. This allows employees to maximize their home setup, try to make a plan for the school year with childcare considerations, and mentally prepare for work-from-home life.”

“I love Google’s decision to announce a long-term plan for their employees. This pandemic is ever-changing. I understand that many companies may want to wait and see how everything plays out, but one of the hardest things to manage in this process is the anxiety surrounding all this uncertainty. Google is providing their employees with clarity and consistency. This allows employees to maximize their home setup, try to make a plan for the school year with childcare considerations, and mentally prepare for work-from-home life. All companies know that this is an option but are scared of putting it into writing. I understand the fear but now is the time to jump in and set up your employees for success.”

Livia Jenvey

Founder & CEO of Empowered Starboss, a platform dedicated to helping female entrepreneurs grow their businesses

“To have a successful team that works remotely, a leader has to understand how each team member works and how to navigate the combination of remote time and in-person collaboration time.”

“I currently run a small business with remote employees and have also worked in the past for large corporations that manage employees remotely.  Remote work has been around for a while in the tech industry and I think it is here to stay. However, not everyone works well remotely and this is an area leaders and managers of remote workers must really consider if they want their employees to be productive. Some individuals excel in remote environments. The majority I have found do not, as remote work leaves opportunities for distraction and loneliness which can lead to poor performance. To have a successful team that works remotely, a leader has to understand how each team member works and how to navigate the combination of remote time and in-person collaboration time.”