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The New Employee-Side Requirement: Remote Work

Joni Mitchell originally wrote the popular song, “Big Yellow Taxi” in the 1970s. One of the key lyrics within the song is, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” Naturally, this can apply to many things. But in a post-pandemic world, it seems quite appropriate for many of today’s employees. Having experienced a remote work environment and a flexible work arrangement, many hate to let it go. And as more and more employers are requiring workers to return to the office, several are rethinking their options. In fact, it’s not uncommon at all for employees currently to insist on remote work opportunities from their employers.

While many employers are making moves to allow remote and hybrid work schedules, others are resistant. As COVID restrictions relax, a sizable number of businesses are requiring their employees to return in-office full-time. But as it turns out, this might be the kiss of death for firms struggling with human resources. Highly-talented workers are insisting on flexible work arrangements based on their pandemic experiences. And if their employer refuses, they’re seeking remote work opportunities elsewhere. Without a doubt, labor has a strong bargaining position in today’s market. Therefore, companies had better pay attention to these requests if they wish to secure the best talent available.

“I’ve found that working remotely has given me more space for long-term thinking and helped me spend more time with my family, which has made me happier and more productive at work.” – Mark Zuckerberg

The Numbers Don’t Lie

For months now, major surveys have demonstrated that most workers today prefer remote work opportunities. (Check out Bold Business’ very own survey on remote work here!) Based on recent updates, this hasn’t changed. Among today’s employees, nearly 60% want positions that are fully remote while almost 40% prefer hybrid schedules. Only 3% actually prefer a complete return to the office. This highlights just how prevalent these sentiments are. If employers aren’t offering flexible work arrangements, they are failing to meet key applicant job search criteria. In fact, more than half of those searching for positions today are only looking for remote work opportunities.

Looking at this from an employer’s side, the statistics don’t match up very well. Among business firms today, more than 40% are insisting that employees return to the office full-time. Likewise, slightly more than a quarter are offering hybrid options and flexible work arrangements. This bodes badly for many companies as many employees are willing to quit over the matter. It’s not that they necessarily want to leave their positions. It’s simply remote work opportunities offer them a higher quality of life. Surveys report a fifth of workers would actually give up vacation or take a salary cut for remote work opportunities.

“When you look at the jobs that are offering more remote opportunities, it’s positions that are self-paced, where people can manage their workloads without others present or monitoring them, and there’s no requirement to interact with people face-to-face.” – Jesus Ranon, Supervisory Labor Economist, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Conflicting Concerns Between Employer and Employee

During the pandemic, workers weren’t the only ones to experience new flexible work arrangements. Employers were also forced to create remote work opportunities as COVID restrictions increased. In many instances, companies realized they could save on office space overhead while still remaining highly productive. But at the same time, others worried about “time-stealing” and a loss of creativity and innovation. While collaborative tools online and videoconferencing improved, shortcomings persisted. Thus, despite maintaining a productive environment, long-term concerns still existed.

A nice graphic showing remote work
Remote work opportunities are increasing–mostly because remote work is becoming a necessity.

Employees, on the other hand, saw things quite differently. Flexible work arrangements allowed individuals to spend more time with their families and avoid an unnecessary commute. Remote work opportunities also let them enjoy better work-life balance. All of this resulted in less stress and more free time for life outside of work. And having had a taste of this, most prefer not to return to their previous in-person work lifestyle. They believe flexible work arrangements actually enhance their productivity and creativity as a result of these benefits. Depending on where one is sitting, the perspective about remote work opportunities can be quite different.

“It’s unquestionable: hybrid work is here to stay. But this environment will present new challenges, and leaders should carefully assess what they’ll need to empower their people and business as they move into the future.” – PricewaterhouseCoopers

Meeting Workers in the Middle

Despite these differences of opinion, businesses must realize that a return to full-time, in-person work environments is not likely. Rather than resist that change, it will be important for companies to adapt embrace flexible work arrangements. In doing so, they will naturally be able to attract a more qualified workforce. But at the same time, they enjoy the chance to develop a positive work culture that breeds innovation and productivity. Dynamic companies learn to adjust to new environments and market demands. And given that today’s workers prefer remote work opportunities, it’s essential that employers reconsider their point of view.

This is not to say that there won’t be new challenges along the way. Anyone who has tried to collaborate on Zoom for hours on end realizes that technology burnout is a real thing. Likewise, businesses will need to find new ways to promote company values with remote work opportunities. Remote work procedures must mesh well with the company’s mission and approach the same way in-person practices did. And of course, flexible work arrangements will require changes in management and leadership as well. Established best practices for these areas have yet to be defined. But by perceiving these as opportunities rather than obstacles, companies can evolve and thrive.

A Positive Work Culture Is a Remote Work Culture

In the past, businesses recognized that a toxic work culture was something to be avoided at all costs. Not only did such environments decrease productivity, but they also resulted in high employee turnover. Interestingly, many workers today consider a lack of flexible work arrangements a feature of a bad work environment. For today’s job-seekers, employee surveys show many won’t even consider companies that resist remote work opportunities. Behind low salary and micromanagement tendencies, this was the most common reason to move on. As a result, it’s essential that companies today appreciate employees’ needs when it comes to flexible work arrangements. Those that do will be best equipped to succeed in an increasingly mobile society.


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The Bold Business Reading List – The Best Business Books of 2021

This past year, the business world has accomplished many great and wonderful things. Several companies not only survived the pandemic but thrived in its presence. Others achieved feats well beyond our imagination, ranging from space to climate change solutions. And of course, some have surprised in less desirable ways as well, teaching us some important lessons. In the process, many of this year’s business developments have been chronicled in some of the best business books ever. This includes not only historical accounts but also some exceptional business management books. With this in mind, the following lists what Bold Business believes to be the best business books of 2021.

  1. Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire – Brad Stone

Brad Stone follows up his initial bestseller about Amazon with an update on the online megastore’s latest developments. For those who enjoy business management books, Stone covers both the good and not-so-good for the company and its founder.

  1. The Unfair Advantage: How You Already Have What It Takes to Succeed – Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba

While many believe a hard work ethic will lead to success, Ali and Kubba share another important secret. It’s actually a comparative advantage that we have over others that often is the key ingredient. The challenge is recognizing this advantage and tapping into it.

  1. Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power – Brooke Baldwin

From a gender perspective, women leaders often leverage collaboration and teamwork to achieve success. With this in mind, and with excellent examples, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin shows just how powerful this can be. Especially for businesswomen, this is one of the best business books of the year.

  1. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race – Nicole Perlroth

Advances in technology are awesome, but as Nicole Perlroth reminds us, they come with some concerns. In the coming years, businesses must increasingly invest in cybersecurity and data privacy protections. (Take a deep dive into data privacy protections in this Bold story.) For those who appreciate this, this is a must-read among business management books.

  1. The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion – Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell

Perhaps not among the best management books, the incredible story behind WeWork is certainly compelling. The power that a single charismatic individual can have in hyping a company is truly amazing. And the story is one that might just help you avoid some serious mistakes in business and in life.

  1. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know – Adam M. Grant

Have you ever heard of stretch goals? If not, you definitely should consider reading Adam Grant’s take on self-reflection. In this book, he demonstrates just how important it is to continually question yourself about your beliefs. Challenging yourself in this way is a key in the pursuit of ever-increasing success.

  1. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals – Oliver Burkeman

Being productive and efficient is great. But when it gets in the way of your over-arching mission in your business career, it can be a problem. This book by Burkeman is one of the best business books to help you maintain perspective on what’s truly important and what’s not.

  1. Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX – Eric Berger

Who doesn’t love hearing more about Elon Musk? Good or bad, he attracts an audience. And Eric Berger is the perfect guy to tell Musk’s story when it comes to the billionaire space race. This previous editor of Ars Technica provides engaging stories from both direct interviews and personal experiences.

  1. Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone – Sarah Jaffe

As far as business management books go, this may not be a feelgood one. But nonetheless, Sarah Jaffe shows us how over-commitment to our jobs can ultimately be detrimental. Careers are important, but so are many other aspects of life that deserve our attention.

  1. A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload – Cal Newport

This is among the best business books for those who obsessively feel the need to be constantly connected. Instant response expectations by email or other forms of digital communications are growing. For our own sake, it’s important to realize this and choose a different path.

  1. An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination – Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang

Some may prefer business management books that are uplifting and inspirational. If so, this is not the book for them. This literary work reveals just how much Facebook has leveraged its power to achieve its objectives. And indeed, it’s not a pretty story.

  1. Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon – Colin Bryar and Bill Carr

In contrast, this book from two long-term insiders at Amazon tell a much rosier picture about a dominant enterprise. This is one of the best business books describing how core principles and commitment to culture led to Amazon’s success.

  1. The World For Sale: Money, Power, and the Traders Who Barter the Earth’s Resources – Javier Blas and Jack Farchy

If you’re looking for something intriguing and surprising, you might love this book by Blas and Farchy. The book shows just how powerful those who control precious resources have become. In fact, those dealing in things like cobalt, alumina, and bauxite are among the most powerful individuals in their world.

  1. Empire of Pain – Patrick Radden Keefe

Perhaps, one of the worst stories in recent times also makes for one of the best business books. In this book, Keefe tells the unthinkable story of Purdue Pharma and its role in creating an opioid epidemic. Without question, it’s a story about greed, lost ethics, and misguided pursuits.

  1. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need – Bill Gates

Bill Gates is well known for his climate activist beliefs and efforts. But in this book, he goes beyond conservation and challenges businesses everywhere to take an additional approach. Specifically, he details why businesses collaborating to solve world poverty can make a much bigger impact.


  1. My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future – Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi broke many barriers to become PepsiCo’s CEO and take the company to new heights. Thus, it’s not surprising her book about her life is among the best business management books this year. This is not only true for women business leaders but for anyone with aspirations of managing a major corporation.


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