The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) outbreak is probably the most disastrous human tragedy ever to impact the global economy in such an extreme way. Many companies have shut down forever, many companies have halted their business operations, many companies have switched to the remote working.
We'll kudos to those companies who fall under the third category and are embracing the Future of Work. Enabling remote working for the employees is one of the best things a business can do amidst the crisis. Staying unemployed and being locked down for months, can be depressing for anyone. Hence, businesses which have implemented remote working have taken a great step which is advantageous for their business functioning, customers and employees.
In the current scenario, the topic of remote working is producing a lot of attention and research. Certainly, companies have shown their wise side by prioritizing the “remote work revolution” as a strategy to enhance their top objectives in this new decade.
Where everyone is talking about the benefits of remote working for a company, the impact of remote working is probably getting neglected.
Hence, I have covered this neglected yet important subject in my article.
You may tend to deny this but I see remote working as the modern work culture. There's a reason why so many companies are still working well and smoothly amidst the crisis. This is simply because of the support they have of their employees who are working dedicatedly for the company.
For a change, let's talk about the post-lockdown situation. Will companies put an end to their remote working? Should they do that?
Well, looking at the advantages that remote working has for employees, the current working style can be made permanent. To support my statement I will preface my point with some recent statistical analysis about remote working:
- Productivity — Teleworkers are an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts, and have measured an output increase of at least 4.4%.
- Performance — With stronger autonomy via location independence, workers produce results with 40% fewer quality defects.
- Engagement — Higher productivity and performance combine to create stronger engagement, or in other words, 41% lower absenteeism.
- Retention — 54% of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered them more flexibility, which results in an average of 12% turnover reduction after a remote work agreement is offered.
- Profitability — Organizations save an average of $11,000 per year per part-time telecommuter, or 21% higher profitability.
Doesn't the above numbers astonish you? Well to me it did. Where I was an employee wishing every day to get back to my office lifestyle, the above data did make me think again. The above-stated points entail the major benefits of remote working valid for both the company as well as its workers.
In fact, I have even prepared this list of advantages that I have realized while working from home for the past 40 days. I hope your employees would agree too because mine did! Let's get started:
1.Employees are much healthier, mentally
One of the most overwhelming benefits of remote working for employees is the fact that it promotes an overall healthier and peaceful lifestyle. It enables the employees to eat better, exercise more freely, and have fewer distractions. Certainly, while working in an office environment, chances of being distracted by colleagues or indulging in unnecessary gossip or politics are much higher, which in the long run can be a bit detrimental to employees’ productivity.
2. Employees can save their travel time and expense
In most metropolitan areas, commuting for an hour or so to the workplace is quite common and really exhausting. The effort spent on travel can seriously drain a human’s energy and hence might lower the final output that a person would have otherwise delivered. The ability to work remotely actually removes commuting which does create anxiety even before the workday begins. In fact, another advantage of no commuting is saving money – gas, parking, or other transportation-related expenses.
3. Employees are actually more grateful to the company
It won’t be wrong to say that remote working brings in major flexibility for the employees, and this is something that every worker needs, but can’t actually get that. Why? Well! In an office space, flexibility means from 9 am to 10 am. But the millennials of today might work best at 3 am whereas someone might be an early riser. Their productivity would actually be much higher if it’s done their way. Let’s face it, this can’t be permitted in office hours and that is exactly when remote working enters the picture.
4. Employees can reach you without filtering locations
When a company puts a label of “remote working” in its job description, it opens up the gate for candidates to apply from any part of the world. There won’t be absolutely any need for your HR to say goodbye to a skilled candidate just because they live in Bangalore and your office is in New Delhi. Flexible remote working enables your company to hire and bring together people belonging from different cultures, and empowers them to show their best work without relocating.
The benefits of remote working are unprecedented! But there can be downsides too!
Any kind of major cultural shift will come with its pros and cons. Can you prevent all of them for your company? Well, you might be successful if you give your best shot. There are some businesses who have faced a downturn after implementing remote working. They faced lesser productivity and even higher employee churn rate. Well, here are some possible reasons where it happened to them:
1. No socialization and only isolation
When employees don’t get to meet each other and their only way of interaction is team meetings, companies can end up overlooking some of their team members. Some people need socializing as their motivational dose to work for a company. Regular interactions with colleagues probably teach you the best about a company and its goals. When things like this don’t happen anymore, people might end up feeling isolated.
2. Working unnecessarily and unwillingly
When the manager and their team members work together in a physical environment they probably discuss and delegate the work with proper clarity. During remote working, there can be instances where the supervisor ends up giving the same task to different employees, or they may overlook the work done by someone and rather concentrate on something else. Situations like these not only demotivates the employees but also leads to adding their task list with unnecessary work.
3. Their learning has gone AWOL
As I mentioned above, face to face interactions within the team often brings up different topics and discussions which are extremely informative. One doesn’t plan to but still as the conversations move ahead, random and insightful subjects come up. Discussions are like these are very important for an employees’ learning and are mostly bought to end once remote working begins. Also, supervisors end up giving only the task pointers on mail and might not discuss the reasons/benefits of doing the same. As a result, the learning of employees gets drastically hampered while working remotely.
What can be done to prevent these downsides?
You know as they say, if there are problems, there are solutions too. Before you leap head-first and announce your Work-from-home policy, it is important to ensure that it has the attributes of employee engagement and motivation. Unfortunately, most companies only focus on strict surveillance while making these rules.
So here our certain things to note which can help you check all the boxes of a successful remote working:
1. Insert a metric of team engagement too as a part of your remote working rules. Video calls between team members should be done diligently.
2. Discussion and delegation of work should be done on the team group and not individually to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
3. Learning sessions should be conducted for the team members, both inter and intra department wise.
4. HRs can come up with team engagement ideas through virtual modes and game sessions can be done once in a while.
5. Post lockdown, the company could plan a get together of something so that everyone can meet and greet each other face to face as well.
6. Continual surveys and making key improvements as per the response is another essential ingredient of a successful remote work culture.
Final take away:
Well, firstly, the above benefits and downsides are both the potential ones. Remote working doesn’t come with certain and assured results, and only works/fails on the basis of your laid rules and technology.
Believe it or not, remote work is the Future of Work and that it is a trend well worth embracing. Needless to say, it won’t be very easy to embrace but with modern technology, it has become much easier to keep the teams organised.
Hence, because of the changing mindset of companies and developing technologies, remote work is a definite possibility for many teams. But only if it is done the right way!
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