How Organizations Are Adapting to Remote Work: A Q&A with Edie Goldberg

05/20/2020 4 min read
Paul Estes
Paul Estes Editor-in-Chief at Staffing.com and host of The Talent Economy Podcast, Paul brings 20 years of executive experience, leading innovation at Microsoft, Amazon, and Dell.
How Organizations Are Adapting to Remote Work: A Q&A with Edie Goldberg

Join me—Paul Estes, editor-in-chief of Staffing.com—and Dean Bosche, head of partnerships from Toptal, for a new episode of Rise of Remote Live each Wednesday at 4:30 PM ET on LinkedIn.

This week’s guest, Edie Goldberg, author of The Inside Gig, has designed HR systems to attract, engage, develop, and retain employees for more than 25 years. In this episode, she shares how untapped talent across organizational boundaries unleashes potential and helps retain talented employees. The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: What are you hearing from organizations as they adapt to the current economic environment?

A: It has been interesting. At first, there was concern about how they were going to operate if everybody went home. They wondered if anybody would get anything done because they had this fear concerning remote work. This was even true of companies considering expanding their remote work opportunities to attract more talent over time.

Companies have been surprised at what they are seeing. Their employees are really productive. Employees love that they are getting hours back because they don’t have to commute to work. They are able to have more work-life integration while actually working longer.

Q: Your book, The Inside Gig, talks about the idea of finding talent within an organization. How did this idea come about?

A: I had been studying and working with a group of HR thought leaders around the future of work and how the dynamics of the business world are completely changing. The process we have today was designed for an era that didn’t need the speed and agility needed in organizations today.

We were also looking at what was happening with the rise of the gig economy, and understanding that these people weren’t out of work or just trying to make an extra buck. There were a lot of people who were going into the gig economy out of choice—who wanted to be their own boss. They wanted to have more work-life flexibility, and companies weren't offering these experiences to them.

Beyond flexibility, those working in the gig economy wanted more choice in the work that they were doing.

All of this caused us to wonder, “Why can't you bring that choice and that diversity of experience inside of an organization?" That gave birth to the idea of The Inside Gig.

Q: What do executives and senior managers have to say about this radical idea of bringing people outside of their silos, being more agile, and creating collaborative teams to unlock business opportunities?

A: Traditional HR and management investment has been focused on organizational charts. I help them see that they need to look at talent because how we get work done and what skills someone brings to the table are more important than what unit the employees belong to. If management can focus on the work and not on employees’ jobs, they can suddenly unleash the capacity they have inside by moving talent around.

Work today is much more complex than it has been in the past. Organizations often need more of an interdisciplinary team to solve a critical customer problem or put together a new product. By allowing people to work across those organizational boundaries, organizations can get the diversity of thought that brings greater innovation to companies.

We believe that by finding new ways to operate, companies will be more agile. They'll be able to pivot quickly and pull together a team with the right resources to get a project done quickly. It enables a whole new way of working that better matches the rhythm and the speed that we need in today's companies.

Q: Do you feel that companies are starting to understand that they're not going to be able to attract and retain talent without offering the ability to reskill?

A: There's a very well-known adage that it's much easier to find a job outside of your company than it is to find a different job within your own company. I think organizations experience that reality, but we have been fighting with talent shortages. Having new tools to be able to attract talent ends up being really important.

The rise of remote that has happened so suddenly is giving organizations new tools to work with and more experience with people working remotely.

Q: As the pandemic conversation moves to reopening states and businesses, what is the one piece of advice that you give to leaders?

A: The biggest thing to consider is to determine what their employees want to do. Ultimately, employees have a choice, especially if they have desirable skills. They can go anywhere. I don’t think employees are going to be rushing back to work even as states open up. Many will be scared. Many will choose their life and ability to work from home over a paycheck.

I was really blown away the other day after reading an article from an interview with Tracy Keogh, who is the chief HR officer for HP. HP surveyed 10,000 of its employees globally and asked them how their experience with remote work was and what they wanted for the future. Eighty-seven percent said remote work was really working for them, and they'd like to continue working that way.

I never thought it would be that high. It could be an anomaly because they are all knowledge workers in the organization, but surveys of other organizations looking to come back show that 30% are going to have some portion of their population work remotely from now on. An additional 30% say they’re going to let employees make the choice to come back when they’re comfortable, but they can continue to work from home until they are. Remote work is going to be the new normal.

If an employee works in a big city and takes mass transit to work, they may not feel very comfortable until there is a vaccine. Giving these employees opportunities will be really important for keeping talent in an organization.

As remote work becomes the new normal, Staffing.com has created a dedicated space to offer insights and tips. On our Rise of Remote pages, you’ll find The Suddenly Remote Playbook, articles, podcasts, and live streaming videos with experts in the world of remote work. Watch new Rise of Remote Live episodes each Wednesday at 4:30 ET on our Staffing.com LinkedIn page. Visit and subscribe to stay connected.

Paul Estes
Paul Estes Editor-in-Chief at Staffing.com and host of The Talent Economy Podcast, Paul brings 20 years of executive experience, leading innovation at Microsoft, Amazon, and Dell.