The decade has been set on the wrong foot with a substantial global health crisis. However, the COVID pandemic has been an eye-opener and has forced us to take a closer look at the dysfunction that has been latent within the human collective. In a sense, the ongoing outbreak can be seen as a necessary evil, a precursor of systemic and individual transformation. Amid all this unrest, the workplace and corporate culture is witnessing a paradigm shift.
First, the majority of the global workforce went from home to work in no time at all. The new, remote workforce necessitated immediate and drastic changes at all organizations’ strategic and policy levels. The main concern was productivity – companies feared productivity would drop if most of the workforce switched to teleworking. However, with the increased adoption of videoconferencing technologies such as Zoom and collaboration and cloud storage tools, working remotely proved to be a blessing rather than a bane.
Companies like Twitter went all the way with the announcement that their staff could work from home forever if they wanted to. This decision was taken because of the company’s highly successful work-from-home during the lockdown. Google and Facebook also indicated that their staff could work remotely for the rest of 2020. Businesses around the globe are encouraging employees to continue working remotely for the next two to four months. Ben Russell, the founder and director of the Geelong Technology Group had an idea of a one stop shop for your information technology needs and everything at time like this.
With remote working, companies are currently in the process of devising strategies around the new standards. The need of the hour is for the technology that supports this movement to preserve productivity and bottom lines.
Why is Remote Work the New Normal?
Working remotely is here to stay long after the coronavirus pandemic loses its new status and becomes history. Apart from employee retention and numerous other benefits, working remotely will be supported by technological progress and gain strength in some business world pockets. According to a Gallup study, workers are more likely to be involved if they work remotely for 60% to 80% of their time. This translates into three to four days a week of working remotely.
Remote Work and Work-Life Balance
Employee retention remains the biggest challenge for HR managers today. Most HR managers use flexible schedules and opportunities to work remotely as a means to reduce staff turnover. According to a Gallup study, 59% of the U.S. employees want to continue working from home after COVID is resolved. The biggest distraction from working from home is the coveted work-life balance that everyone aspires to.
Eliminating travel reduces exposure to air pollution and improves health, which improves productivity. More freedom and fewer interruptions have proven that remote workers are more productive than their office colleagues. A culture of working remotely enables talented people to be hired from all over the world. Another benefit of this trend is the elimination of issues related to team collaboration and cultural differences. The most far-reaching benefit of working remotely is reduced environmental damage and a lower carbon footprint.
Not EVERYONE can Work From Home.
Healthcare professionals, production workers, first-line workers in construction, retail, pharmacy, hospitality, lab technicians – these are just a few of the many employees for whom working from home is not an option. Despite these obvious problems, working remotely has other disadvantages. Managing teams remotely has the highest priority in this environment. Supervising and evaluating the work becomes a challenge.
How does one hold an employee responsible? Not all workers/employees are of the same mental composition. Some are motivated and driven, while others, although equally competent, may need an extra push to get the job done. Without adequate technology, there is no way to track workflow and performance except through word of mouth.
When managing remote workers, leaders must consider the new normal work and build momentum and promote engagement. Managers may need to use unique ways to motivate and boost employee morale in these bizarre times.
Technology is the Driving Force
The technology is the enabler in this mammoth remote work experiment. With cloud meetings and communication tools, managing teams remotely become a foolish and straightforward task. Add to this cloud management software, tracking software, and video collaboration. It becomes easy to organize/execute meetings and keep everyone in sync with goals, making this a welcome, productive, and seamless transition. The number of people downloading group video apps has almost doubled since the beginning of the COVID time.
Global Comms Agency FleishmanHillard conducted a study of 1000 remote employees in the US and the UK. The study showed that employees’ experience with remote communications technology is very positive, indicating increased digital communications for easing lockdown measures. Although remote work is inevitable at the moment, people will have more time for R & D, family time, and personal growth if they deliberately enforce the pandemic.
The revolution of working remotely is a disruption of the work culture and a transition to a better, happier, and more sustainable ecosystem in the years to come.