The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined the whole world order. Social distancing has become the new norm and virtual offices is the new workplace. More and more organizations have shifted from running physical office spaces to asking employees to work from home. Organizations are trying hard to sustain this new work culture.
The Scenario of Remote Working
Remote teams have already been a common phenomenon for some time now, over there years the number of employees working remotely has been on the rise. Looking at the current pandemic situation, this trend is set to rise further.
There has been a surge in the usage of remote technology and online communication tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, Webex, etc. For example, the users of Microsoft Teams have increased by 20 million, since November 2019. People using Zoom meetings grew from 10 million in December of 2019 to 200 million in March of 2020. Zoom is still among the preferred applications for connecting virtually.
There are certain sure shot benefits of working remotely –
A more productive team
A Gallup study states that 54% of office workers would be willing to quit their job for one that allows them to work remotely. When employees work remotely, they believe they are able to focus better, have relatively fewer stress issues, are able to save on certain expenses like commuting to work, food expenses, etc. Remote work can help improve employee productivity, boost efficiency, increase employee retention, and also increase trust levels among employees.
More Savings both the organizations and employees
Remote work can significantly reduce cost overheads for both companies and employees. This becomes all the more important now when companies are looking at every opportunity of cost-cutting to sustain their businesses. Companies can avoid certain overheads like power and infrastructure costs, etc while employees have to spend less on their daily commute to work thus saving on, fuel costs. A win-win for both.
A better work-life balance
Work from home allows employees to strike a balance between their work and personal responsibilities in a better way. Nearly 83% percent of employees say they have a better work-life balance while working from home*. Flexibility and autonomy are key deciding factors for people when they apply for jobs, especially when we look at the younger workforce. Remote work offers just that.
A healthier environment
Another feel-good factor associated with remote work is how our environment is healing with lesser human presence out there on our roads. We have all read or heard news updates on how carbon emissions have reduced or how the air has relatively become purer. Lesser vehicles on the road leading to better air quality. Additionally, as per Citrix-sponsored research, allowing employees to work from home for just two days a week would cut carbon dioxide emissions generated by travel/commute by 40%. Sounds encouraging!
The challenges of remote work
We might be being pushed to adapt to remote working arrangements when we are actually not ready for it. It’s a no brainer that all forms of business are not familiar with switching to a remote work set up almost instantly.
Shifting to remote work is easier said than done, even under normal circumstances. It’s not always as simple as just taking your laptop home. Organizations and employees moving towards remote working may face certain challenges like – a slowdown in business operations, the challenge of adapting to remote technology, employees missing out on the connect human connect, feeling of being left out, blurred work schedules, etc.
The real challenge about working remotely is the challenge of adaptability, both for organizations and employees alike. While organizations might struggle to figure out efficient and effective ways to stay connected with their people and ensure a smooth running of business activities; employees, on the other hand, need to adjust themselves to the new working arrangement in an effective and competent way, without hampering their performance.
The challenge of Remote Communication – When it comes to remote communication, organizations struggle with –
- Maintaining a regular connection with teams, at all times.
- Keeping employees updated with all major developments.
- Choosing virtual communication tools that best suit their needs.
It’s time to redefine productivity
Despite the proven increase in productivity that comes with remote working, organizations need to reimagine and redefine the whole productivity phenomena.
- Organizations should set targets that fit the remote work conditions, the deliverables for remote work can’t be exactly the same as when employees work from offices.
- Organizations really need to focus on psychological aspects like stress levels, emotional sensitivity, and attitude of employees. Tools like MBTI, 16PF, Psyft Personality Assessment, etc. can help predict behavior, the temperament of individuals and how could these be affecting their daily affairs & productivity.
- Leaders need to encourage their teams to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Employee morale, employee engagement levels, and organizational culture have to be looked into seriously and consciously, now more than ever.
It’s time for leaders to show their employees that they are there for them and that they care. Organizations need to be more compassionate, sensitive, and empathetic towards their employees and their individual challenges as well. Now is the time when employees really need to feel connected to their team, to their management, to their roles, and to their goals.
To Conclude –
Remote work has both – some important benefits and some key challenges. The key is to look at the challenges as stepping stones towards creating a more flexible, autonomous, productive business set-ups. With the right tools and an engaged team, organizations can find out effective ways to make the remote work transition as smooth and profitable as possible.
*1 The Citrix-OnePoll survey.
Lead – Assessments & Surveys at GreenThumbs
Garima Sharma is Lead – Assessments & Surveys, at GreenThumbs. She is a subject matter expert for Personality Assessments, 360 Degree Appraisals, Employee Engagement, Feedback Surveys, etc.