Remote Work and Business Succession

Wednesday, December 21 2022

Marc Lacoursiere – How does hybrid or remote work (WFH) impact business succession? Does it make the business more attractive to future owners? Does limited attendance affect business culture, connections, and continuity?

A quick look suggests there is a lot of media favouring hybrid/WFH models, but a deeper dive makes things less clear. As business owners consider how best to position their organizations for succession to which model you choose.

Return to Work vs. Remote Work

At one extreme, companies like Apple and Meta (Facebook) are mandating ‘back to office work’. Other firms, like Spotify, have chosen to switch to a fully remote model. A PwC study found that 75% of CEOs were anticipating at least half of their staff back in the office. An article in the Observer promotes remote and hybrid solutions: “Raj Choudhury, a professor at Harvard Business School who researches remote work, says he believes a shift to more flexible working options will ultimately be driven by recruitment and retainment…”.

According to Facility Executive, remote work has proven to be successful by many measures, but few leaders believe their company culture can be sustained, and thrive, in a purely remote work setup long-term.

Remote Work and Business Succession

There is a disconnect between the hybrid/WFH aspirations of employees and the back to workplace bias of many business leaders which comes at a cost to people and possibly business value.

According to Statcan, 48% of the employees who report doing more work per hour also report working longer hours per day than they did in the past and have a potentially lower productivity measured on an hourly basis. This begs the question whether a hybrid/WFH model is sustainable for the business over the long term. Also, what impact will remote work have on business succession?

While WFH is popular, an article in the Globe and Mail provides a different perspective. The article suggests that it may not be good for careers, and by extension, businesses because:

  • Your network will shrink.
  • Work relationships will falter.
  • Motivation declines.
  • Missed opportunities.
  • There are fewer chances to make a positive impression.

Any staffing model will be popular with some people and less so for others. Mandated back-to-work comes with risks, and WFH compromises on basic human needs. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to office staffing when looking at business valuation and succession.

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