The New Normal: Aligning Remote Work Trends with Your Business

You wake up, make some coffee, and walk a few steps to your home office. It’s got a professional, yet personalized background for video calls and you found the perfect office chair online that makes sitting at your desk for a long call a breeze. Your dog jumps into your lap as you draft e-mails and prepare for a video call.

After a few morning video calls, you have a block of time to brainstorm for an upcoming presentation. You realize you’re not chained to the desk and a walk in the park just might help you have the energy to finish this presentation before the deadline. No one is stopping you as you walk to the door to ask you questions because you work from home, and instead of an office park parking lot, you set out for a walk at your favorite park. The stress and anxiety that used to hit you before a big presentation seems more manageable these days.

For an increasing number of knowledge workers these scenarios are the new normal. Large numbers of Gen Z and Millennials consider their workplace to be anywhere with a strong wifi signal and a good background. A child accidentally walking into your video backdrop, or standing up to reveal you’re wearing sweatpants with your suit jacket on a video call were both once immense faux-pas at the beginning of the pandemic, but is now something most have seen, experienced or understand. The reason for this is that remote jobs grew from 4% of all high-paying jobs before the pandemic to about 9% at the end of 2020, and more than 15% today (1). Projections are forecasting 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote at the end of 2022 and will continue to increase through 2023 (1).

               Burnout is at an all-time high, and the Great Resignation still looms, but remote work seems to be the salve to this open wound for some jobs. Employees are flexing their power and are demanding better pay and flexibility. 4.5 million people quit their jobs voluntarily in November 2021 (2). Many business leaders are hesitant to hand over the reins to employees on when and where they work due to business implications that are still being parsed out. Yet 90 % of remote workers surveyed in the Owl Labs 2021 State of Remote Work Report say they were as or more productive working remotely compared to in-office (3). Not only that, over 80% said that they would even be willing to take a pay cut in order to be able to work remotely because it makes them happier and is better for their mental health.

Takeaways for Business Leaders:

01 Explore ways to integrate remote work. While not every job lends itself to this model, many workers will hold out for remote work opportunities (1). If you want to attract and retain employees, seriously consider how you can offer remote or hybrid work opportunities. This means also aligning your in-office and remote work cultures. Consider ways to build teamwork and rapport between remote and in-person employees through virtual team-building and team strategy sessions. Schedule quarterly team meetings for in-person socialization and team building.

Align your team for top performance.  Build teams that trust each other, communicate, and hold one another accountable—to achieve outstanding results and a cohesive, thriving culture. Use a proven framework to help your team reach peak performance through expert guidance and first-of-its-kind people data. Understand different individual work styles and motivating needs. Contact us to discover how this can transform your team.

02 Align your hiring and onboarding practices to take into account remote work. Create structured interviews that ask questions to assess whether someone will thrive in a remote work environment in their potential role so you can have confidence in a new remote hire. Before recruiting and attracting new employees, determine which roles can be remote or hybrid and the criteria. Design your onboarding practices to help the new hire not only learn their job, but also create a strong alignment and bond with the manager, the rest of the team and the organization.

Attract and select the right person for every job.

Are you relying on resumes, the usual sources and “gut feeling” to hire people only to learn later they aren’t a fit for their role, the team or your culture? Do you have the right leaders in place? Building a company of top performers starts with putting the right people in the right positions. Evaluate the behavioral and cognitive characteristics of candidates against job targets to select the best people and build high-performance teams.

Not sure yet? Sign up here to try out these amazing hiring tools for free! Once you try this, you will never want to hire any other way.

03 Align your business strategy with the right workforce model. Concerns about the unknown future of work can be managed by considering scenarios and weighing the pros and cons of remote or hybrid work. Be creative when thinking about the different ways work can be done and try to avoid all or nothing thinking whenever possible. This may allow you to attract and retain top talent and perhaps save a bundle on office space and travel costs. Many employees are also more productive working from home. Business strategies aligned with people strategies have a greater chance of success. Consider changing and possible workforce models in your quarterly or annual strategic planning sessions.  

Do we have a real strategy or just a list of goals? Will our strategy stand up to the dynamic forces at work in today’s business climate? Do we truly know what our customers need and want? What about our employees? Can they get behind this strategy and implement it?

We will help you examine the forces at play and create and implement focused strategies for sustainable, prosperous growth. Our methods prompt you to consider scenarios and create flexible strategies to anticipate and withstand shifting environments. We engage key internal and external stakeholders to obtain input, spark creativity, break down old mindsets and create coalitions for change.

Contact us to discuss your strategic plans


  1. Remote Work Is Here To Stay And Will Increase Into 2023, Experts Say
  2. Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary
  3. Owl Labs State of Remote Work 2021


The Great Leaders You Might be Leaving Out

Re-entering the formal workforce after years starting and supporting a family was a daunting prospect. I had chosen to throw myself wholeheartedly into managing a household, moving back and forth internationally, juggling an entrepreneurial art career, and raising a young child. Each year the obstacle of returning to an office seemed more and more challenging with a longer gap on my resume, then came the pandemic, so I delayed my return.

However, in the process of becoming a mother and navigating international moves, I gained a completely new identity, strength in areas I didn’t even know existed, and an ability to create effective processes. Would anyone in the workplace understand or even acknowledge this growth that happened inside of me during these years outside of a traditional office? I wasn’t so sure anyone would.

This isn’t a story unique to myself, there is a reoccurring v-shaped employment pattern for women during times like the summer where childcare challenges are more present. In fact, around 10 million US mothers living with their school-age children were not actively working in January 2021 of the pandemic due to the industries many women work in, and due to the extreme childcare challenges of shut-downs during COVID. This drastic shift in women leaving the workforce has not only negatively impacted the career trajectory for many women, but has also negatively impacted the businesses and organizations they left. What left along with these women was their talent and institutional knowledge.

Recent research by Angela Passarelli and Spela Trefalt has brought to light a staggering reality: the ‘Motherhood Penalty.” An article profiling this research by Elizabeth Weingarten describes this phenomena as employers not understanding the link between “new mother,” and “leadership potential,” instead thinking that motherhood leads to a depreciation in leadership skills.

Weingarten, E. (2022, May 4). This may be the way to cancel the ‘motherhood penalty’ and develop leaders. Fast Company.

Are there some resumes sitting in the stack with gaps from time away from the workforce to raise a family that haven’t even been considered? Are there women on your team juggling daycare drop offs and pickups after sleepless nights that might have an extraordinary ability to multitask, persevere through challenges, AND read the room in an instant that could potentially lead a team to new heights?

Weingarten says Neuroscience research suggests that, “[…] new parents undergo changes in their brain that allow them to be more present, to empathize with others to collaborate more effectively, and even to respond to stress in a more adaptive way.”

Luckily for me, our CEO and President Diana Rivenburgh saw that there were unique skills I’d honed in the years of early motherhood that could be an asset. She not only hired me onto the team, but has consistently worked to mentor, coach, and provide resources for me to translate the leadership skills I learned becoming a mother. If more leaders had the same awareness and understanding that not only are these skills transferrable to the professional arena, but could potentially be an asset, the script on motherhood and leadership potential could be completely flipped.

This coaching I’ve received from Diana is exactly the kind of coaching that Passarelli and Trefalt’s research suggests can support mothers through this transitional period of their careers and impact women’s desire to stay in the workplace after returning from leave. Maternal coaching can change the story on the role of motherhood and its impact on leadership qualities and close the gap of retaining talented employees in the transitional period of early motherhood.

So how can leaders make this shift to maternal coaching, and when?

Passarelli suggests a coaching program should, “start as soon as the pregnancy begins […] That’s when the identity shift happens, that’s when [women] begin to face major inequities at work […].”

Passarelli and Trefalt also recommend that coaching be provided to both women AND their managers which could help a manager avoid well-intentioned behaviors driven by sexism.

The key takeaways exist mainly in awareness of leaders who have young mothers or new mothers on their team. When leaders shift their own mindset and view motherhood as an asset for leadership rather than a roadblock, cultural change can occur throughout the organization.

One way to easily make sure young mothers or new mothers aren’t being screened out of the hiring process or the leadership ladder would be to assess your employees on the drives, needs and talents they bring to the table rather than their status as a parent or the gaps on their resume.

It has been a true privilege to work for Diana and with our clients at Strategic Imperatives to help leaders gain awareness, institute fair and repeatable hiring practices that consider all candidates, and to find those with the best fit for their organizations and the role. Beyond the job offer, the best leaders and managers institute strong onboarding, development, coaching and mentoring practices to engage and develop employees throughout their career trajectory. It’s a win-win for these organizations and their people.

Go past the resume and assess candidates based on their fit to a role, their needs and drives in the workplace, and the unique talents they bring into the workplace.

Build awareness before you hire by signing up for a free trial of the PI Hire 2.0 hiring solution. You can take the guesswork out of hiring, hire better employees, and create fair and repeatable hiring practices!

Works Cited:

MISTY L. HEGGENESS, J. F. (2021). Tracking Job Losses for Mothers of School-Age Children During a Health Crisis. United States Census Bureau.

Weingarten, E. (2022, May 4). This may be the way to cancel the ‘motherhood penalty’ and develop leaders. Fast Company.