Why talent will flock to virtual work environments

Why talent will flock to virtual work environments

The world is changing before our eyes. It has probably always been changing, but the speed of change has been gathering, well, speed. While it has empowered many new types of businesses, it has also left a trail of devastation and destruction in its wake, of businesses that failed to see the writing on the wall.

The world is becoming virtual with a vengeance. And with it, businesses. Today one can shop for nearly everything online, from food and books to, hold your breath, cars, and houses. And newer eCommerce ventures are promising faster and faster delivery of products. What happened to the need to touch and feel the things you are buying? Or to eyeball it to make sure that it is the right product and looks right for you? Or to discuss it amongst family and friends, especially for big-ticket items, to ensure that there are no hidden issues with the purchase?

The internet has become the lifeline of the modern world. Perhaps immediately after oxygen and water in our hierarchy of needs.

The internet has been a catalyst in the growth of several industries, such as BPO, or business process outsourcing. oWorkers, a relatively new entrant, with 8 years in the industry, serves a number of clients from across the world, relying on the internet to receive and deliver work. It has already made a name for itself as one of the top three providers in its chosen space of data-based BPO services, in the world.

Physical versus virtual operations

Virtual companies, or e-companies, the ones that do not need physical interaction with their customers to generate revenue, are proliferating. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a solidification of virtual work as acceptable on a regular basis, the trends were already there. It is estimated that in the ten years preceding the pandemic, the number of virtual operators went up by more than 4 times. And that is not all. In less than ten years, it is expected to double once again with the number of virtual workers rising to almost a quarter of the total desk-based jobs.

Virtual has become a threat to every business that is not virtual. Not only from the customer perspective but also from the perspective of employees. They are likely to lose their best employees to competitors with an active policy of allowing employees to operate virtually.

Whether virtual or workplace-based, employees are a lifeline of the BPO industry. oWorkers has carved out an enviable position for itself in each of its delivery locations and is looked upon as one of the desirable employers by local workers. This creates a steady stream of jobseekers for oWorkers to pick and choose from, creating a high-quality workforce for each of its client projects.

Workplace trends gathering steam

HR and consulting firms are trying to foresee the future and running different types of surveys to understand the trends.

Some say close to half of the workers are considering leaving their jobs. Some say most employees are happy that they decided to leave.

The Great Resignation, earlier believed to have been triggered by the reduced interest of employees in work in the wake of the pandemic, is now getting new interpretations. The Great Resignation was triggered because employees rose up against ill-treatment, poor compensation, and other issues at the workplace. Age-old issues, but set off in relief against the challenges created by the pandemic.

Some say employers could lose up to a third of their workforce if they stipulate that they have to work from the office. They no longer want work to be the sole determinant of how they lead their life. They want work to be a part of their life over which they have control.

With its avowed policy of working with employed staff, as opposed to contractual or freelancing staff that many competitors opt for, oWorkers has worked for providing careers to its staff, as opposed to tasks or jobs. It regularly received feedback ratings in excess of 4.6, on a scale of 5, on external platforms like Glassdoor, from both past and present employees.

The water cooler effect

Traditionalists have long railed against the phenomenon of virtual work. According to them, virtual work takes away an important component of the workplace, the ability to create personal and social interactions and relationships. As human beings, we crave society and social interaction, and acceptance. The water cooler, in corporate lore, became the magnet for creating social interactions while giving employees a somewhat safe space to voice their angst and frustrations against the company and senior leaders.

The fabled water cooler, seemingly, has been coming up short. Unsurprisingly, there have been studies to evaluate its impact, or rather, that of physical proximity at the workplace.

In a study at a Fortune 500 corporation, it was found that over 90 percent of communication between employees took place between people within 500 meters of each other. The others, the ones beyond 500 meters, could well be sitting in an office on the Moon, without much change in the communication level.

oWorkers operates services that are always available, 24×7, 365 days a year, for helping clients improve response times. These ‘always on’ workplaces are made of employees working from the office as well as home.

Does hybrid help?

Corporations are nothing if not creative in developing solutions. The hybrid workplace is one concept that has emerged out of the churning of the last few years; a cross between office-based and virtual work.

Industry leaders have been quick to latch on to this trend, with many implementing a ‘hybrid work’ policy based on what they considered to be the optimal split.

In a survey conducted by Gartner, office-based employees consistently reported levels of satisfaction that were lower than the other two sets; completely virtual workers and hybrid workers.

oWorkers has forged deep relationships with technology companies, which enables access to the latest tools and solutions, which can even be deployed for client projects. With the help of these tools, oWorkers was a pioneer in introducing virtual work after the pandemic struck which resulted in lockdowns and shelter-in-place regulations coming into force. Its employees are equipped to operate seamlessly from the workplace as well as at home.

The commuting issue with the workplace

The commute time to work has been on the upswing. Workers in the US, on average, spend half an hour each way between the workplace and home.

What does that mean?

It means lesser time with loved ones.

It means lesser time at work.

It means lesser time for hobbies and entertainment.

In effect, it is time wasted. Some social experts have argued that commute time acts as an important buffer between work and home, but the theory has not found favor with many.

In the end, commute time is mostly classified as time wasted.

For employees so disposed, oWorkers offers virtual work options. They have been made possible by the super secure facilities and protocols used for the security of data, further strengthened with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015). In addition, oWorkers is also GDPR compliant.

The office as an entertainment hub

Unobtrusively at first, and then more obtrusively, efforts at keeping employees interested in the workplace have been increasing, leading to them being looked upon more as entertainment centers by observers. From organized sessions of physical exercises to meditation, to sleep chambers to fun and games and picnics, to who can outdrink who sessions, they have all become a part and parcel of corporate life, lending it the ‘entertainment’ image.

oWorkers can support clients in over 20 languages. This has been made possible by its consistent adoption of a multicultural and multinational workforce.

Open offices – bane or boon?

Among the many experiments and stages of evolution for enhancing employee engagement and productivity, the open office occupies a prominent position.

Guess what studies have found?

The open office lowers productivity and increases stress. It makes it more difficult to focus on work requiring concentration. In fact, the open office is now believed to be a contributor to the culture of spending long hours in the office. Earlier the reason behind it was supposed to be the need of the individual to show themselves off as hard workers. It is now believed that while that could still be valid, people also tended to come in early and stay late so that they could find undistracted hours to focus on their work.

Yet another study at a Fortune 500 corporation reported that there was a substantial reduction in face-to-face interactions after transitioning from a cubicle-based office to an open office, putting one of the foundational arguments for open offices in question.

oWorkers employs systems that objectively track productivity and quality. It has historically delivered accuracy levels of over 99 percent. Considering that this number is across clients, across different services, and across measurement systems, it is a proud achievement for oWorkers.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

While traditional workplaces have worked well for the traditional demographic that worked on gender-based role segregation, it becomes a challenge in an increasingly complex and multi-hued society.

Like a family with small children where both parents work.

Like people who either suffer from or have a dependent who has a serious health condition or a disability.

For non-traditional demographics, which have been increasing, the traditional workplace becomes a barrier to competing on equal terms.

Its reputation as a fair employer precedes oWorkers. They are able to provide support to clients in many unconventional and uncontracted ways, like hiring people at short notice to meet unexpected client requirements. oWorkers can add almost a hundred additional resources to the headcount, with a notice of 48 hours.

What do workers want?

Many leaders have proclaimed themselves to be the ones in the corner of the employee by implementing a hybrid policy of work. After all, that is what employees wanted, according to several surveys and reports.

Did they nail it?

Seemingly not.

What could be the reason?

When they implemented hybrid work, these leaders defined how and when the two parts of the hybrid equation were to be executed; when should which employee come to work and when should he/she work from home, including the proportion between time spent in the office and in working from home.

This, it appears, is not what employees want.

What they are looking for is complete flexibility. They want to control when they come into the office, for how much time, for what type of work, and when they ought to work from home. ‘Radical flexibility’ is the name this expectation of employees has been given by Gartner.

Leaders should listen. There are studies that demonstrate a marked increase in the number of high-performing employees in an organization when this flexibility is available, as opposed to when the terms are defined and dictated.

A leadership team with several decades of hands-on industry experience keeps oWorkers ahead of the crowd when it comes to adapting and changing with the times.

Can companies adapt to this change?

It remains to be seen. After all, corporate leaders are used to being in control and defining the terms for others. This will take away at least some part of the control from them.

Flexible work is now a movement. It does seem that employers will need to adapt to it in their own ways. Their failure to do so could trigger a catastrophic outflow of talent to others that do. And freshers will flock to companies that have built up a track record of flexible working for themselves.

oWorkers, apart from permitting flexibility to its staff, also provides flexibility to clients in pricing. Its practice of providing a choice to clients, between two different methods of pricing, is now well-known and highly regarded by clients as a unique offering. Many of them claim savings of almost 80% after partnering with oWorkers.