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Dec 8, 2016

Today’s top talent doesn’t place much value on the traditional workplace status symbols, like a corner office. Instead, skilled members of the modern workforce demand flexibility.

According to a recent FlexJobs survey, only 7% of professionals cited their office as the best location for tackling work-related projects. Respondents named everything from distracting colleagues to meeting overload and a stressful commute when identifying the factors driving down productivity in the office. Likewise, a recent PGi study indicated that 62% of workers would choose a work-from-home option if given the choice.

Thanks to technological evolution and an ongoing paradigm shift in the way we approach work, people are spending more and more time working from a location other than their office desk.

Freedom is the new status symbol. If we want to attract and retain top talent — and thus remain competitive in the years to come — it’s time to embrace that reality. Here’s how we all can facilitate and benefit from this desk-less revolution:

1. Trust the people we hire. Place an emphasis on results and outcomes rather than processes and workflows. Worrying about where our employees are working or how they’re managing their time will create unnecessary stress — both for us and among employees. Instead, we need to empower our employees by trusting them to do their jobs.

I encourage mobility and flexibility with my team at Sitrion, focusing on what my team members are accomplishing and how they’re contributing to company goals. Often, the best employees take a “work smarter, not harder” approach to work and are able to produce results, regardless of how many hours they spend at their desks.

2. Build a digital culture. All leaders should focus on adopting technologies that enhance communication across teams. The evolution of mobile technology is increasingly turning digital interactions into personal interactions. I’ve been working to put mobile-first practices into the DNA of my company, implementing everything from Microsoft’s HoloLens to my own proprietary software.

By focusing on building a digital culture, we can not only attract talented, forward-thinking people, but we can also facilitate collaboration among team members. In turn, employees will feel more invested in our businesses.

3. Be accessible. As executives and managers, we can never communicate too much. One way to help promote the development of a digital culture is by remaining accessible to our employees. I have unplanned periods scheduled every day so I’m free for communication and collaboration with my team.

We need to make it clear to employees that it’s OK for them to reach out to us, whether via instant messages, texts, calls, or in-person talks. Likewise, we need to do our best to take advantage of many different communication channels when communicating with employees. This will create a feeling of connectedness that strengthens culture and productivity.

4. Think mobile. Gartner research shows that almost half of employees are using mobile devices for work — whether their bosses want them to or not. When evaluating company processes or considering new technologies, think about whether they enhance or prohibit the productivity of a geographically dispersed team.

For example, if requesting time off or getting work approved presents a challenge to mobile employees, we should rethink those processes. Whether telecommuting, visiting a client, or vacationing, employees won’t always be in the office. That doesn’t mean office alerts or companywide communication can’t reach them.

We all want to create companies that are strong — no matter where our teams do their work. Mobile-first companies can be agile and deliver solutions, products, and services to more customers faster. In turn, employees are happier and more productive because they feel empowered rather than micromanaged. Crafting a mobile philosophy is the easiest way to make work better for everyone.

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