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15 July 2020 5 min read

Covid-19: The death of bureaucracy and birth of a distributed workforce

Krystina Warrington

Krystina Warrington
Senior Consultant | People and Process Excellence | London

Life before March 23rd 2020 and after March 23rd 2020 look very different. 

Covid-19 has jet propelled hundreds of companies into the 21st century as they were forced to have a remote workforce with limited notice 

They had no choice but to rapidly move away from long established and bureaucratic processes to focus their now distributed workforce on what needed to be done ‘right now’ and also work out a way of working that enabled them to quickly adapt to a very different post lockdown market landscape.  

The ability to change direction at pace whilst remaining in control is one of the key advantages of an agile organisation, therefore if companies are to weather future market disruptions such as the Covid-19 pandemic, then moving to a more agile way of working will be essential.  

Agile organisations aside, on the whole companies and employees alike seem to have overcome initial technological frustrations and have settled into a new kind of ‘normal’ where the commute is as simple as opening a laptop, and work/life balance has blurred even further.  

So, if the daily commute has been reduced to a power button and the office is now your living room what does this mean? 

It means that where you live is no longer a restriction as to what company you work for, from being centrally co-located many companies in the UK have now got a distributed workforce, leading to three key observations

1. Talent and intelligence is equally distributed across the country, as it is across the world, however what is not equally distributed is opportunity, which has led, for years to young graduates moving away from their regional homes to big cities, especially London. A distributed workforce however, overcomes that barrier of location and provides that ‘big-city career’ opportunity to anyone with a good wifi connection. 

  •  Could Covid-19 lead to a reduction in the traditional ‘brain-drain’?
  •  And an increase regional opportunity?

​​2. With a distributed workforce the talent pool that companies are recruiting from increases dramatically, from a small pond restricted by commuting times and transport links, to an ocean of opportunity where time-zones and wifi connectivity are the only considerations. 

  • Could Covid-19 lead to an increase in standard of talent within companies as they no longer have to ‘drop the bar’ to recruit sufficient resource from a limited number who are open to relocation or recruiting?  
  • And could traditionally London/UK companies become more regionally and culturally diverse? With a distributed workforce companies will not just employ a person who grew up in Scotland or India but now lives in London, they will be able to employ a person who always has and currently lives in Scotland or India and day-to-day will be living culturally different lives that result in them bringing different views, different understandings and different opinions to companies. To the benefit of customers and employees alike.

3. The Covid-19 pandemic is just the start of a new way of working, with ever increasing  globalisation and digitisation it is highly likely that in the future companies that evolve this ‘distributed first’ model will thrive through gaining a competitive advantage over their peers.

About the author:

Krystina Warrington is a Senior Consultant and Tom Lewis is a Director in Baringa’s People, Process and Excellence department. 

The authors would like to thank Helen Moss and Verity Harrison for their contributions to this article