There’s no doubt about it, working from home is here to stay.
A recent Gartner survey revealed that 82% of company leaders will be allowing employees to work remotely at least some of the time, even after Covid-19. On the employee side, a survey from PwC found much the same; more than half of respondents want to continue logging on remotely for at least three days a week once the pandemic ends.
But how will this working shift impact resource utilisation? Working in professional services is a notoriously demanding profession, and the thorny issue of mismanaged resource utilisation is only making things worse. Throughout every firm, you’ll find some staff unnecessarily overworked, whilst other capable staff are underutilised. How can remote working help tackle this issue?
We’ve outlined three ways in which WFH can impact resource utilisation in professional services, even after we’re all allowed back in the office.
1 – Bigger resource pools
The first thing to consider amongst the rise of the remote workforce is how wide the net can be cast to find available staff.
Professional services firms are no longer limited to resourcing locally. Remote working has meant that we’re in a situation where staff in Edinburgh can help out over-utilised colleagues in London, and vice versa. For resource managers, this means there can be a much bigger pool to choose from when looking for the right skills, experience, and suitability to fit into engagements.
Removing this geographical bias can also be transformative for resource allocation. Worries about relocating staff to nearby offices or sites at short notice evaporate when everyone is remote.
Plus, now firms have started to resource engagements nationwide, why stop there? Getting access to expertise internationally and making good use of lower-cost service centres becomes more accessible in a remote working world. This means you’re not only getting the best staff available for the job, but also at an optimal rate.
2 – Better problem sharing
Remote work spreads problems, and that’s not a bad thing. It allows issues to be absorbed, tackled, and solved by the wider group. Suddenly, the knowledge from one resource manager’s head becomes spread over 5-6 people.
Of course, resourcing from a larger pool and working across several managers nationwide, or even internationally, brings its own challenges. Collaboration becomes key as information is dispersed throughout the team, as does understanding those planning complexities.
More complex resource plans will require dynamic solutions. Intelligent capacity planning tools can distribute the workforce plan in real-time and be constantly working to ensure the right resources are allocated effectively. Instead of one overworked engagement manager, there’s now a team collaborating with the same live data, often able to spot problems before they become showstoppers, and pivot when needed.
3 – More focused collaboration
More and more studies show how remote employees are 20% to 25% more productive than their office counterparts, mainly because there are fewer social distractions. It’s also easier to take breaks, which psychologists say helps with overall performance, motivation, and creativity.
So crazy as it sounds, having a disparate team is no barrier to having staff working effectively together. In fact, this streamlined collaboration may even lead to clearer communication and a more defined workflow.
Intelligent resource management can gather together diaries, emails, documents, timesheets – anything central to an engagement – and ensures nothing that matters gets lost, no matter how far apart your team is.
Post-pandemic resource planning
There are many theories floating around about what’s going to happen when lockdown ends and people are free to resume their lives with a degree of normality. Managing this period will be nearly as tricky as anything that came before.
Much of this goes to the value of engaging with your staff and building relationships that go beyond the office. Using smart tools to keep track of resource utilisation and allocation will be essential, whether your staff are working from home, on site, in the office, or most likely, a mix of all three.
It may seem like a Herculean task for one person not used to remote leadership, but with the help of AI and automation, it’s just another day.