Building happy teams

Why LGBTQIA inclusion matters

Here’s why companies should care about LGBTQIA inclusion

1994 1569 Mita Mandawker

Given that it’s June, an annual celebration of Pride, we have seen the social space abuzz with conversations around LGBTQIA equality, inclusion, and policies. We’ve also seen rainbow logos. We’ve also seen some policies changing and some companies leaning into inclusivity. During Pride, we’re reminded that as employers, it is our responsibility to make our workplaces inclusive, accepting, and welcoming.

As Pride month comes to a close, we are asking an important question: what happens during the next 11 months of the year? As we put our rainbow flags away, and change our logos back to their regular colors, what we do next is what will make the longest lasting impact.

First, let’s look at why it’s important to care about LGBTQIA inclusion all year, not just during Pride.

The numbers show that LGBTQIA employees don’t have an easy time at work. 19% of LGBT workers have experienced verbal bullying from their colleagues and customers. 13% of LGBT workers do not feel confident reporting homophobic bullying in their workplace. 42% of trans people who are not living permanently in their preferred gender role say that they are prevented from doing so because they feel it will threaten their employment status.

Over the years, the situation has improved for the LGBTQIA staff in some key ways.

  • 91% of Fortune 500 companies have introduced non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation.
  • 67% have voluntarily extended health and insurance benefits to all LGBTQIA families.

Despite coming a long way in the last few decades, there’s still a lot of work to be done to create a psychologically safe, inclusive, and accepting work environment for LGBTQIA employees.

Zooming out, let’s take a look at the economics of inclusivity.

Do you know how much the US economy would add per year if American companies improved their ability to retain LGBTQIA staff with inclusive policies? If you guessed $9 billion, you’re right.

According to the World Bank, how much would India add to its economic output if it addressed discrimination against LGBTQIA people? Did you guess $32 billion? Correct.

Last one, and then we’ll move on. What’s the aggregate spending power of this LGBTQIA consumer base ? Does your answer include “Trillion”? If not, guess again. The spending power of the LGBTQIA consumer base was estimated to be US$3.6 trillion per annum in 2018. Trillion, with a “T.”

Changes to policies, practices and workplaces add up to billions and trillions of dollars of impact, not to mention making your employees feel like whole people when they come to work.

In fact, the impact of inclusion is so broad that almost every measure of a company’s success improves with inclusivity: client perception, retention, talent pool, brand recognition, market share, legal costs, etc. Below, we’ve compiled more information on each of these, as there’s a wealth of data to show that inclusivity is good for business.

With the world becoming more accepting and understanding of the LGBTQIA community, companies are expected to be more inclusive and create a safe, tolerant environment where your LGBTQIA staff can be themselves and thrive at work.

So, what can companies do to be more inclusive?  Where do you start?

Commit to do the work.

Being an LGBTQIA-inclusive employer is not an overnight process; it takes time and consistent commitment.

Here a few things you could start with as you begin your journey towards inclusion:

Think and act ‘glocally’

It is an employer’s responsibility towards their staff to look after their welfare, be fair and accepting to all. Look at the policies and actions taken globally by employers. Find out what would work best in your local context considering the laws to make the workplace more inclusive and adopt the best practices.

 Assess your policies

Take stock of your current workplace policies and see if they are conducive to people being open and receptive to others. Check with your LGBTQIA staff if they feel safe, disclosing their sexual identity at work, and are not being bullied. Put measures in place to make sure your work environment is safe for your employees and continually review them to make them better.

Visible LGBTQIA role models

Have visible role models in your organization; they send a powerful message that you walk the talk when it comes to inclusion in your own staff. These role models serve as allies who also educate the workforce on the differences and how to behave with people different than themselves.

Don’t just do one thing, and don’t stop.

Individually, start with any or all of the strategies mentioned. As a company, look at your policies and commit to change the ones that are not inclusive based on sexuality and gender. Have networking events, trainings to address the bias and discrimination and struggles faced by the LGBTQIA community all year long. There are many resources out there (a google search for “LGBTQIA company resources” returns dozens of them), and you can also take a look at these free trainings by LinkedIn for your staff to foster more inclusivity and belonging in your workplace.

Companies who do the work all year round will be the harbinger of powerful societal change, reap the benefits of inclusion, enjoy a positive perception of the market, and enjoy brand loyalty from one of the most loyal customers.

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The detailed case for how inclusion is good for business. Here’s are some reasons why:

Positive client perception

Diverse, inclusive companies enjoy an enhanced public image. Clients are keen to partner with companies that are non-discriminatory and inclusive. Millennials who are touted to be 75% of the global workforce by 2025 and form a chunk of consumers are inclined towards companies who are more embracing of their LGBTQIA staff, making them employers and brands of choice.

Reduced legal costs

Companies that care about the inclusion of their LGBTQIA staff observe a drop in their legal costs as the discrimination suits against employers reduce. It also translates in lower health insurance spends on employees as employees’ health improves working in a good environment, reducing stress.

Higher retention

LGBTQIA employees who feel comfortable being out with their colleagues, tend to stay on longer with the company compared to those who feel stifled by the office environment. This reduces hiring and training costs associated with hiring and onboarding new employees. Employee engagement is also said to suffer by 30% when work environments are now accepting of the LGBTQIA staff.

Bigger talent pool

Companies who embrace diversity, especially with LGBTQIA staff, open themselves to the large, talent-rich demographic, increasing their competitive advantage. The diverse team is more innovative and happier.

Brand loyalty

LGBTQIA people tend to be loyal customers. 87% would switch the brand, which is known for providing equal workplace benefits. 23% of LGBTQIA consumers already switched to companies who were more supportive of their cause disregarding the cost and convenience of using the brand.

Higher market share

There has been a sharp increase in the number of same-sex households over the past years along with the increase in their buying power. Inclusive companies will get a share of this pie if they work on being more open and receiving of their staff.

Lastly and most importantly, a diverse and inclusive workplace fosters creativity, leads to innovation, and brings a multitude of ideas thanks to their staff.

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Are you hiring and wondering how to make sure your team is diverse and inclusive? Shortlist can help, we offer a wide range of recruitment solutions that help companies build great, diverse teams.

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product management

10 tips to help you rock product management

500 333 Brenda Akinyi

Product Management encompasses a wide range of responsibilities and means different things to different organizations. It involves understanding your customers’ current and potential needs then creating a product that solves these problems.

In our first Product Management series, we hosted a webinar featuring industry leaders in the field. Rachel Steinberg (ex-CPO @ Shortlist), Ravijot Chugh (co-founder, ex-Head of Product @ upGrad), and Deepak Singh (Group PM @ Flipkart)  shared insights they have garnered throughout their journeys on what it takes to be a kick-ass Product Manager.

Here are their top 10 tips on how you can rock Product Management:

Think of your product as a little person:

Your goal is to have your users have an ongoing relationship with your product, so think about it as an actual person. Consider what your product’s “personality” is and stay true to your “character” in every aspect of your product.

Takeaway: If you’re building a comfort food delivery app, you want your product to ooze “home cooking” and perhaps be a little grandma-like. Having a 404 page with gibberish code (no matter how funny) would be totally out of character for grandma 😉. Stuck on how to go about it, check out Rachel’s blog on making your product tiny humans.

Product management is a dialogue:

If your product is a person, getting your users to the right place is a matter of dialogue – and you’re the scriptwriter. Make it easy for your users to understand what your product is saying (use “text and animations” as body language cues) and don’t forget to LISTEN!

Takeaway: If you’re a Product Manager for a fitness app, don’t ask a returning user if they like to stay healthy or exercise – instead, listen if that’s something they do often by understanding their activity. It would be a bit like a gym trainer asking a regular client whether they like to lift weights when that’s what they’ve been doing for ages! LISTEN.

Ruthless prioritization is your superpower:

In any situation with more requirements than available resources (which, let’s face it, is one faced by nearly every product team ever), doing the right things and avoiding distractions is your biggest superpower. As a Product Manager, the table you don’t sit at is more important than the table you sit at. Opportunities are everywhere and you need to be careful to not get lost in unnecessary tasks.

Takeaway: If you have 3 engineers and 1 designer at your disposal and you’re tasked with growth and engagement, don’t waste your resources worrying about improving your overflow menu or contact us flow. Instead, focus all your time on building things that increase your number of users and ensure your users keep coming back, such as your content and reminder notifications.

Take feedback – you’ll get lots of it:

You’ll always get feedback from people in your company and your users. It’s very easy to get defensive and become immune to this feedback – don’t fall into that trap. While you will sometimes have people who think they know your product better than you, It’s important that you learn to filter through the noise and pick out what information is important to you and your users.

Takeaway: You’ll always hear from people about how a certain feature should work – rather than thinking your user is an idiot who doesn’t know how to use your product, be empathetic, understand their mindset, and find the signals from the noise.

Never say “I don’t know tech”:

You’ll be surprised how often Product Managers say this. Don’t fall into this trap, whether you’re speaking with your engineers, leadership team, or in an interview – it’s the quickest way of losing the other person’s respect. On the flip side, don’t pretend you know things that you’re not familiar with, either. No one expects you to be a coder but you are expected to know how to speak to your engineers and problem solve. Interview tip: If you don’t know, don’t have a hands-off attitude to things you don’t know. Show that you are willing to learn

Takeaway: If you don’t know something about the tech stack or architecture your engineering team is working with, acknowledge that you haven’t worked with that specific kind of technology before, sit with your engineers to understand it better, and maybe even ask for time to go do your own research before coming back to engage in the conversation

Manage products, not projects:

It’s about context, not control. Your job as a Product Manager is to set the product vision and then unclog problems for your team, rather than simply managing timelines and workflows. It’s your job to do whatever it takes to make the team capable of delivering on time. Your role is to figure out what is blocking your team from achieving your goals.

Takeaway: Whenever you’re launching a new product or feature, ensure your team is clear on what and why they need to build something. Then get out of their way and let them deliver. Avoid focusing your time in daily catch-ups on whether a specific task was done or not. Instead, understand what is blocking your team from doing it and try to unblock. Book recommendation to help you get started; Good PM/Bad PM – Ben Horowitz

Listen to customer needs, not requests:

As Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said, “faster horses”. Take your customer feedback and de-construct if to get to the root of the problem (their need).

Takeaway: Always talk to your customers, but don’t necessarily build the solutions they ask for. Figure out what they’re saying implicitly and solve the problem.

In product management, measure outcomes, not activities:

Many Product Managers fall into the trap of measuring things like meetings, features shipped, and other input measures. These are, of course, not the true measure of success for your product.

Takeaway: Focus on the things that matter most for your business. What metric are you trying to get to? Does that mean user growth? Retention? More efficient/cheaper customer acquisition? It depends on the outcomes you need your business to achieve.

You get what you write:

When speaking, it’s easy to jump from Point A to C in a narrative because you expect the listener to follow along. When you’re writing, taking shortcuts is not nearly as persuasive. Build a writing habit. This not only helps you structure your thinking but also builds organizational knowledge for why something was or was not done. Writing makes everyone accountable as you articulate your flow and the next steps better.

Takeaway: DO THE WORK ahead of time to structure and clarify your thinking in writing. Moreover, make it crisp and clear because no one wants to read a lot. Book recommendation: High Output Management – Andy Grove

Give credit, always!

In the words of Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) – “Make everyone a hero of their own story.” This builds psychological safety and helps your team perform.

Takeaway:  As a PM, there is no faster way to lose your team than when you take credit for achievements but share blame for things that go wrong. Use more of  ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ when sharing success stories. But when taking accountability, take it all upon yourself.

Bonus section

Interview tips for aspiring Product Managers:

Do your basic homework on:

  • What does the company do?
  • How do you fit into the organization?
  • Why should they hire you?/ What do you bring to the table?
  • What is the role is about? Do you know the details?

More interview prep tips? Check out our Interview series.

You can listen to the full webinar recording on our youtube channel, and check out more reading recommendations from the team below:

To be the first to get information on our upcoming events, new opportunities in Product, and more, sign up on the Shortlist platform below!

Business unusual- work from home

Business (un)Usual in a COVID-19 world – Part 2

5760 3840 Mita Mandawker

With companies around the globe coming to terms on navigating a post-COVID-19 world, leaders are facing many challenges. Leaders are tasked with enabling remote teams to realign business operations, resetting business goals. It is helpful to learn from other leaders how they are managing in times like these.

In this week’s “Business (un) Usual” series – which aims for us to learn from other’s experiences and offer support to teams and individuals as we navigate these tough times, we have leaders from India talk about how their companies are managing changes brought by COVID-19, how they are making ‘work from home’ work and more.

In this edition, Ria Shroff Desai, Associate Vice President – People Operations, Sula Vineyards, and Varun Deshpande, Managing Director, The Good Food Institute India, share how they are finding ways to grow in these difficult times.

How has COVID impacted your business or businesses you work with (positively or negatively)?

Varun Deshpande in Business (un)Usual- work from home

Varun: At the Good Food Institute India (GFI India), we work with pretty much anybody who can impact the food supply from governments, philanthropic organizations, entrepreneurs to large corporations. We work to accelerate protein transition from unsustainable animal-sourced foods to plant/fermentation/cell-based meat, egg, and dairy replacements. All the stakeholders we work with are impacted by the crisis- government agencies working to mitigate the fallout, large corporations disrupted by lockdowns, and entrepreneurs had to pause product development and defer go-to-market.

That said, the pandemic has also brought forth the need to provide viable alternatives to animal-sourced foods, increasing their demand globally, so a lot of projects have moved faster for us than we otherwise expected.

GFI India is lucky to be a part of an international network very much geared towards remote work and a self-starting culture. Our counterparts in the U.S., E.U., Brazil, etc have ‘remote work DNA’, so we were well equipped to make the switch to working from home. We will continue to remain in this mode till August and then reassess. All in all, we are counting our blessings and focusing on staying safe and doing good work!

Ria Shroff in Business (un)Usual- work from home Ria: For us, like other businesses, a “negative” impact has obviously been a lack of clarity on how business should continue. Sales halted for a few months, affecting cash flow, so we had to take certain decisions to eliminate non-essential services, cut budgets, and put some programs on hold. We took great pains to ensure salaries continued uninterrupted, but increments were put on hold or were significantly reduced.
A “positive” has been overwhelming acceptance by senior management for the concept of ‘Work from Home (WFH)’. Whereas earlier we would have had to make a strong business case to allow WFH as a “perk” or “reward”, it was accepted overnight as a way to do business. And not just our senior management, but almost every company has accepted this as the new normal and saw the benefits of allowing employees the freedom to get work done without micromanaging. I am optimistic that this will introduce a new aspect to work-life balance for all Indian employees.

What’s one tip you have for working remotely? What has been something special you or your company has done to make it a bit easier to work from home and/or preserve team culture and spirit?

Varun: Working from home can be a challenge at the best of times. We are highly focused on maintaining our team’s camaraderie and supporting their mental wellness during this difficult time. My tip is twofold – make and communicate decisions early, and focus as much as you possibly can on staying connected through non-work activities.

We decided fairly early on to stay in remote work mode through August and move our events and other meetings to online-only, preventing potential uncertainty and anxiety among team members. We have also focused on social activities outside of work – watching Netflix together, scheduling morning coffee chats, etc, and have allocated a budget for team members to spend on items such as standing desks, exercise equipment, and mental health counseling, to make their work-from-home life more comfortable, happy and productive.

Ria: Remote working is a new phenomenon in India – until now for people anyone working outside the office was considered a “freelancer”. So there is still a bit of stigma associated with it – families do not fully comprehend the idea of working from home and may not give you space and privacy needed.

If you work remotely, it helps to structure both your day and work environment as if you were still in an office (at least to start with and get disciplined). If you are working with a company, throw in some company swag like banners, posters, team photos, office branded mugs and calendars just to pull you into the mood. Continue some existing traditions online – such as 4 pm chai breaks, or weekly recognition meetings. Invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones.

And if you continue working remotely even after this lockdown lifts, make sure you do enough work outside a desk as well – continue having informal and networking meetings with other people, attend meetups and workshops, and more importantly, stay active and stay healthy!

Do you think that this will signify a shift to more remote work in the long run?  Why or why not?

Ria: We must remember first and foremost that currently, we are working remotely during a global crisis with other facilities (like domestic help, childcare, education, public services, etc) unavailable to us. As a result, I don’t foresee this current WFH model sustaining without causing significant burnout to employees, especially women, who are managing a triple burden of housework, childcare, and work. We need to be mindful of WFH in the Indian context as a vast majority of Indian households are with joint families, elders, and children, which are often not the most optimal circumstances of WFH.

What I do foresee is more flexible work arrangements becoming the norm – structuring roles around deliverables and meetings, so that employees are free to decide if in between they want to work from an office/co-working space or home. I predict that companies will probably rethink their definitions of employee expectations to be “present” in office and invest less in fancy infrastructure and more in technical products to encourage collaboration and remote working.
Companies that manage to realign their expectations of ‘WHAT work needs to be done’ to now ‘HOW work should be done’ will emerge as the winners.

What’s your favorite thing about Working from Home?

Varun: The GFI India team has unanimously voted ‘no commutes’ as their favourite thing about working from home. In a city like Mumbai, that can save you 2.5+ hours per day – that’s giving you back 15% of your waking hours! We have always been flexible about office timings, and we do expect that even after August, we may continue working from home and offering our team members even more flexibility on this front.

Who’s someone that motivates you?

Varun: I resonate deeply with the principles of ‘Effective Altruism’ – that we can apply reason and expertise to the ideas of impact, to tackle the world’s most pressing problems. It is why I chose to join GFI to tackle one of those pressing problems, and it is also the kind of mission-alignment we look for in all new team members.
I greatly admire many who embody this spirit – some who come to mind immediately are development economist Jeffrey Sachs for taking on extreme poverty, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw for building the Indian biotech industry and tackling disease, and Azim Premji for his philanthropy.

[Are you passionate about pushing back against climate change, food insecurity, and future pandemics? GFI India is hiring for a Science and Technology specialist, apply for the role here.]

What’s an inspiring story you’ve seen as a result of COVID?

Ria: I have seen a lot of innovation, pivoting, and repurposing existing products and services to meet changing needs. I have seen a lot of inspiring stories about neighbors and communities reaching out and supporting one another, regardless of cost or difficulty. I have seen entrepreneurs and businesses cross-promote each other and encourage business.
I am hopeful that these bonds of service, outreach, and support continue even post this because we continue to live with a lot of other unseen hardships daily even after this pandemic is over. Collaboration and support are going to make good business sense in the long run – it is fine if it took us a crisis to realize that, but it’s what we do now that will make the real difference.

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Look out for the next piece in this series where we’ll continue featuring advice, insights, and tips from business leaders on how they stay adaptable and move with change.

At Shortlist, we’re working hard to make sure individuals and companies have the support they need at this critical time.  We offer help both to companies looking to hire and to those who are seeking outplacement services to support a team that you may be transitioning.  We also have great tools for professionals at any stage of their career development journey. You can learn more about these initiatives and sign up on our platform below ⇓

Virtual internships- Shortlist

Virtual Internships: The best way to get ahead right now, for employers and interns

1869 1156 Mita Mandawker

‘Virtual internship’ has been one of many COVID-19 buzz words we have become familiar with since pandemic forced many students to abandon their traditional internship programs.

Traditionally, internships are an important way for students to evaluate different fields before making a career decision. For companies, internships are like an extended interview, allowing them to get to know potential hires through practical experience. For many students, such as B-school students (especially in India), internships are a compulsory part of students’ curriculum.

In light of COVID-19, many employers with internship programs are reconsidering their programs and deciding what to do next. Around 10% of employers have cancelled internship programs altogether, or are considering virtual programs.

When students were asked about internship programs, 89% of students pursuing a 2020 summer internship would prefer a virtual internship over a cancelled one.  Instead of cancelling internship programs altogether, many employers are considering virtual internships instead.

At Shortlist, we started hiring virtual interns after the pandemic and are proud to host five interns who work across a host of projects for us.

What exactly is a virtual internship and how is it different from a traditional internship?

A virtual internship is when an intern works remotely for your company as opposed to working from your office. The entire internship is completed online, without the need for interns to be present physically at the job site.
Virtual internships are a great way for students to start their careers and learn the tricks of the trade from the comforts of home. In the age of digital jobs and remote work, virtual internships can be a great way to get that experience early on in your career.

How do employers benefit from virtual internships?

Workers on a need-only basis 

All companies have projects which require grind work and when you have your employees work on those, it often takes away their focus from more important projects. These projects can often be executed by someone more junior, freeing up your more experienced staff to oversee the projects (instead of doing them) and concentrate on important projects. Virtual interns are great talent to plug into projects like this, which give them real-world exposure and help you get important work done.

Virtual internship programs offer employers the freedom to hire interns on a project and requirement basis and for a timeframe they would be comfortable with.

This way employers are not restricted to creating projects for internship programs specifically and benefit from interns the whole year round.

Larger applicant pool

With tradition (on-site) internships, employers have to restrict themselves to candidates who live close to the office or close enough to commute easily. With this restricted talent pool, companies may miss out on great talent that is based out of another city or region.

When working with virtual interns, geographic barriers disappear. Companies can focus on getting the best talent from across the globe to work for them.

Save resources

As virtual interns do not sit out of your office, you don’t have to allocate workspace, and assets (laptop, basic office equipment, etc) to them.

With most remote internships, employers don’t have many expenses for the interns apart from the pay, saving on resources compared to in-person employees.

And, as long as work is tracked properly (there’s software out there to help), interns who work remotely will be paid for actual work done, eliminating hours of unproductive paid work.

In addition to hiring our own virtual interns, Shortlist has recruited over 1000 interns who are available for virtual internships. If your company is interested in setting up a virtual internship program or gaining access to our pool of virtual interns, get in touch with us here.

How do interns benefit from virtual internships?

Intern anytime, anywhere (from the comfort of your home)

A lot of candidates are looking for international work experience during their courses, but landing an internship in another country is not only difficult but also a considerable strain financially. Companies don’t always cover expenses for interns and internships don’t always tend to pay much (at least not enough to cover the expenses of moving to another country to do the work). (Not to mention that COVID-19 has halted most international work and travel plans for the near future.)

With virtual internships, candidates have the freedom to choose where they work. It is possible to get exposure to global teams and working styles from the comfort of your home, without any strain on your finances.

As a bonus, getting global exposure at the start of your career will reflect well on your resume (click for tips on how to put together a stellar resume).

Flex hours with no commute

Timings are often flexible for virtual internships (certainly more flexible than in-person internships). This means that you could potentially do a virtual internship alongside your studies and normal college routines without compromising them.

A lot of candidates also choose to do multiple internships together, utilizing their time to learn tricks of different trades, while they are in student mode. As a result, when they step out in the job market, they have a good idea of what kind of work they would like to do and a well-fortified resume with experience from multiple internships.

Think about all the time saved on a commute – it’s almost enough to get a second internship! Virtual internships can be a great way to save time and money and add to your CV!

Hone important job skills

Doing an internship virtually involves significant use and knowledge of digital skills. Increasingly, digital literacy is an extremely important skill when it comes to finding your first job. Working remotely helps you develop and build on these all-important skills.

They also boost your resume as you are able to demonstrate a variety of skills (learnt from multiple internships) that are valuable to employers.

Anyone who works remotely has to be focused and motivated to work and complete tasks without supervision. Virtual internships inculcate discipline, and ability to work independently early on in the career.

At Shortlist, we believe in the value of virtual internships. We are actively helping students and candidates interested in pursuing virtual internships connect with employers. Are you interested in a virtual internship? You can share your details here to sign up today.

Like any other internship, what you get out of it is commensurate to what you put into it. Virtual internships will continue to grow in popularity in years to come and may serve as a viable, cost-effective way for employers to conduct their internship programs and for candidates to get a far-reaching experience, valuable job skills right at the beginning of your career.

Remote workforce- benefits and challenges

Is remote work here to stay? Considering the benefits and challenges of sustaining remote workforce

2000 2000 Mita Mandawker

As of December 2019, a “normal” workday for the majority of working professionals included leaving their homes, commuting to an office, working alongside others, and then going back home.

Yes, we understood the concept of ‘remote work’ at a theoretical level. Tech companies had ‘WFH: Work From Home’ policies. Some people used ‘flextime’ to pick their children up from school or go to doctors appointments during the work day without having to take a full day off. Some writers and graphic designers and other creative types worked entirely from coffee shops or fancy rent-a-desk office spaces.

However, for many of us, ‘remote work’ still occupied the same space on our mental bookshelf as stories about a relative who died before we were born, or places made famous in movies that we have never visited, or, Tiktok for anyone born before 1990. For over 90% of the workforce, ‘remote work’ was something we knew about but we had not yet truly experienced.

And then the world got a virus and everything changed. As one of our Shortlist engineers said during week two of WFH, “I had always wanted to Work From Home. And then I had to.”

Fast forward six months and a concept that was once as distant as long-dead Uncle Mahesh is now as familiar as the sound of colleagues saying “can you hear me?” as they test out the mic on the umpteenth video call of the day.

Along with a crash course in how to wash our hands, COVID-19 has ushered in a massive, unplanned, unexpected experiment in remote work for companies and employees around the globe. So far, this experiment has proven that people and companies can work (and interview, and hire) remotely.

Globally, companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Upwork have already announced work from home policies lasting through September 2020, January 2021, or permanently. Many are still trying to figure out what the next phase will look like.

Now, the big question for most companies is how ‘will we incorporate remote work going forward?’

We’ve assembled an overview of the key benefits and challenges based on research and industry experts. As you consider your team or company’s path forward, let us know what your thoughts are. We always welcome being part of your conversations about unlocking professional potential (remote and IRL).

There are many benefits of remote work:

Higher retention, job satisfaction

Employees place a high premium on the option to work from home. 99% of employees would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers, according to a Buffer survey. It is also evident from a Global Workplace Analytics study where 37% of remote employees said that they would take a 10% pay cut to continue working from home.

When companies offer these options, it leads to happier employees, who tend to stay on longer and report higher job satisfaction. Higher retention helps save on hiring and training costs.

In the long run, having a remote-ready workforce is important regardless of whether you’re remote full time. Remote readiness can ensure continuity of business operations (as evidenced during this crisis).

In view of the pandemic, as an employer, when you make plans for future work policies, it would be useful to ask your employees if they would like to continue working remotely for at least sometime in future and then take that into account as you make your decision.

Increased productivity

A Chinese travel agency experimented with remote work arrangements for 9 months found that its employees reported a 13% improvement in performance (they took more calls per minute) compared to staff working from the office. The travel agency got almost an extra workday a week out of them. They took fewer breaks and days off and quit at half the rate of people in the office.

Employees who work remotely often report being able to concentrate more while at home compared to the office. Since they can spend more time in an environment conducive to deep work, it increases their productivity.

Remote workers tend to be happy because of their autonomy, flexibility, and freedom over their schedule and work. Happier employees are more likely to sustain higher levels of productivity.

Telecommuting during COVID-19 has taught leaders and managers who weren’t previously on board with remote work that operations can be just as productive as they were in person. Though it takes time and patience to reorient employees, for many companies the hard work has already been done over the last few months..

Access to best global, diverse talent

Now that companies have started working remotely, it is becoming increasingly clear that people don’t have to be physically present together at all times to do work. We believe that this sets the stage for companies to cast a global net as in order to recruit top talent.

Companies that are open to hiring not just from their local talent pools but from countries across the globe can tap into untapped talent pools. When companies hire remotely, they can access the best talent across the world and are no longer constrained by finding people from talent pools that live within reach of their office.

It also allows companies to scale fast and hire on-demand cost-effectively. Diversity is a significant challenge for all companies. When companies hire remote ready talent, it allows them to hire outside one’s immediate geography and community, allowing for more diversity. This is due to hiring requirements shifting from focusing on candidates themselves to concentrate on the candidate’s work.

Using remote talent serves to remove some barriers to women reaching top positions, research shows 42% remote companies have female leaders as compared to 29% women holding senior positions within companies overall.

Are there any roles within your company that you’ve struggled to hire for in the past? Is your company trying to reduce costs or move to a more variable compensation structure? Does your company support diverse hiring and have an interest in global talent? All of these are great reasons to consider global talent pools for open roles.

As we’re familiar with, remote work comes with Challenges, too:

Loneliness

One of the immediate challenges experienced by managers and employees alike as a result of this pandemic has been dealing with the isolation and loneliness that comes from not being around your coworkers.

According to the 2020 State of Remote Work report, employees report loneliness as one of the biggest challenges in remote work. This occurs mainly due to a lack of socialization, which otherwise happens in workplaces.

There is significant evidence that suggests social isolation and loneliness increase risk for premature mortality.

Companies should institute practices like “in-the-office” day where the remote staff is encouraged to come in office and work and other practices that allow for employees to get together on a quarterly, if not a weekly basis. This goes a long way in ensuring remote employees get a healthy dose of social interaction, eliminating loneliness.

Burnout

A new Monster survey reveals half of employees telecommuting due to the coronavirus are experiencing burnout, yet 52% don’t have plans to take a break.
Separating work and personal life is challenging when it comes to remote work. A lot of employees struggle to preserve healthy boundaries. They feel that they have to work all the time to signal their productivity, loyalty to the company.

This makes it quite easy to work longer hours.

When you have coworkers in other time zones, the probability that they will ping you at a random time increases dramatically, making you work long hours frequently.

Employees should learn to focus on top priority issues while maintaining a schedule for their well-being and engagement.

Fewer promotions and salary growth

Traditionally, most remote workers report that fewer promotions come their way as they are not in the office, and their salary growth is pretty limited.

This is largely because of the “facetime” culture where managers tend to place importance on their employees being present in the office, where they can be monitored. And due to their doubts about remote workers being productive at home.

When remote workers try taking on supplemental work outside of work hours to combat this, they find the line between work-life balance blurring.

Now that we’ve started normalizing remote work, it’s possible that this trend will become reversed. As you consider how to make remote work part of your company’s culture going forward, remember to think about equity and access for all of your employees, whether they’re zooming in or sitting next to you.

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It’s clear to us that remote work is here to stay and is not just a passing trend. We are keeping our eye on you to see how that trend develops in the coming months and years and remain ready to support unlocking professional potential for all companies – even via Zoom.

Shortlist is also trying to help individuals impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. We have started Talent to Tackle COVID initiative to help those who have lost their jobs with remote or virtual jobs, internships, and companies still hiring, find talent.