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High potential remote working

COVID has given many organizations the chance to test-drive a remote workplace. Will we be able to continue to develop high potential employees?

February 10, 2021

Leadership development can be a challenge no matter what company you work for. Unfortunately, statistics show that businesses fail to identify the best talent 82 percent of the time. 

Failing to recognize and develop high potential employees can be costly. Bad managers have a negative impact on employee engagement, productivity and end up costing the company money. 

Gallup research has found that the low level of employee engagement at work has not changed in the last several years. Employees are not contributing as much as possible, and companies overlook the opportunity to develop high potential employees.

With COVID, the struggle to develop high potential employees took a new twist as most companies are working remotely for the foreseeable future. However, there are ways to help your employees develop their skills and make the most of their leadership potential even while working remotely. 

The future of remote work

A recent study looked at what the future of remote work would be and found that, while many employees could work as productivity from home as they could from the office, others needed to be in an office setting for several reasons, including

  • Collaboration
  • Use of special machinery
  • Delivery or service-based such as restaurant
  • Care or medical-based work

Yet, there are still hundreds of jobs that can feasibly be done from remote locations, particularly those that are computer-based. 

Researchers conclude that a fully remote workplace for most organizations is not a reality but that a hybrid model, where employees work remotely part of the time, is more realistic. In a hybrid workplace model, companies will still be able to save money while maintaining productivity. With more flexibility, organizations can insulate themselves from work disruptions that come from a global pandemic, natural disasters, etc. Furthermore, by having a more flexible work environment, companies can improve employee engagement and loyalty and expand the talent they employ. 

Remote work after Covid

COVID has given many organizations the chance to test-drive a remote workplace. These companies have had a steep learning curve as many were not prepared or trained in how to manage a remote workforce. The lessons that have been learned over the past year will be invaluable in a post-pandemic marketplace. 

Moreover, many employers have discovered how viable remote work is as a result of the pandemic. In particular, high potential employees have been able to adapt and be flexible throughout the COVID-19 situation. These employees and their skills need to be developed whether they work remotely, in the office, or a hybrid situation. 

What the world will look like after COVID is not easy to say, but it is likely that remote work - or a hybrid work schedule - will continue after the pandemic. For some workers, a full-time remote workplace is not realistic. But for those in high-skilled and highly-trained industries, remote work will become more commonplace. It will ultimately come down to the desires of company leadership. 

Researchers at McKinsey stated they believed as many as three to four times as many people could effectively work from home post-pandemic. Many of those would be high potential employees who have the right talent, attitude, and approach to be successful. 

Developing high potential employees starts with recognizing who they are, which may seem difficult when dealing with remote work settings. But, most high potential employees have the following characteristics:

  1. Conscientious - These are the employees who are self-motivated and can manage their time well. Remote working can be tricky, but those employees who can get their work done despite the distractions around them should be considered high potentials. 
  2. Curiosity - Employees that show a willingness to learn new things and adapt well to new situations should also be considered among your high potential talent. 
  3. Adaptability - Working remotely puts different demands on an employee and requires them to be more self-directed. Those who can adapt quickly with little fuss are valuable employees. 

Developing your high potential employees in a virtual workplace requires a new approach. However, some of the tools that work well in a traditional setting are still worthwhile and should be adapted to a remote work environment. These include workshops, training, and mentoring. Remember that you want to challenge your high potential employees so that they are able to stretch their skills and expand their capabilities. 

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