Remote working has become the new normal, and you could easily say that this term has taken a grip globally during the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic. While the West and Europe were well prepared – having already struck somewhat of a balance of flexible working practices with a hybrid working model – it was definitely been an adjustment for the rest of the world.
It all started in the year 2020, when work-from-home became the new normal. This led to an entirely different meaning of the term “business as usual”. To accept this new world of work made of new standards, new working relationships. and new possibilities, employees and managers had to change.
Over the past 2 years, we’ve come to understand remote working demands a different kind of approach which is centred on self-responsibility and autonomy. Remote working requires understanding of technology, positive attitude and trust-based relations. With today’s technology and employee’s changing preferences in terms of a maintaining a healthy work-life balance, remote working is here to stay.
So, although remote working is on the rise and here to stay, it definitely has its fair share of benefits and challenges.
Benefits of Remote Working
Improved Work-life Balance:
In today’s competitive job environment, it’s challenging to strike the right work-life balance. Longer working hours at the office leaves less time for the family and oneself. Long commutes are also a major factor which contribute to adding further stress. However in a remote working arrangement, with the elimination of commuting, this becomes time and energy efficient.
A lot of companies are placing employee wellbeing high up on the corporate agenda. They offer flexible work schedules which facilitates and enhances employee productivity. There’s a shift in focus – quality of work is now trumping the number of hours spent in the office. As a result, this gives you more autonomy to prioritize your home, family, self, and work tasks.
Remote working is a cost-efficient solution for organizations. Commercial real estate, office supplies and other related costs are minimised when only essential staff are on-site, if not actually eliminated. With several major players such as Twitter and SalesForce reducing their commercial premises by adopting remote working, organisations are becoming more aware of how this impacts their bottom line.
Decreased Turnover and Reduced Absenteeism:
Allowing employees to work remotely increases the rate of retention. Healthier and happier employees will more likely stay for a longer time. When the employees develop a trustworthy relationship and are not micromanaged, they feel a strong sense of organisational citizenship. This engagement reduces absenteeism, so it’s a win-win for the employees and the organisation.
In a remote working setup, organisations have greater flexibility and are able to attract talent from various geographic, socioeconomic and diverse cultural backgrounds. This furthers the diversity and inclusion agenda in their hiring practices. As an individual, the chances of getting hired increases as the company has no geographical restrictions and there will be a greater pool of potential talent for employers to select from.
One of the biggest challenges of remote working is effective time management due to multiple distractions. Prioritizing work becomes difficult and as a result, productivity declines. It is imperative to be self-motivated and when it comes to time management because there is always a motivation to be on extended breaks, watch one more episode of your TV show, or tidy up the kitchen.
The technology used at offices are usually business-grade and quick, but your home internet work may not be as reliable. This can become a problem and disturbs the continuity of the tasks to be performed, and your ability to meet deadlines. While it looks like a minor inconvenience, many remote workers may feel frustrated and isolated from their remote locations where the phone coverage and internet speed can’t meet the requirements of the job.
Home Office and Distractions:
Dedicated workspaces are an essential requirement for remote working, something which may not be available to some employees – you might not have enough space for a dedicated work area in your homes. This results in multiple distractions, ranging from babies to pets, to laundry in the dryer or doorbells. In order to be more productive, it is necessary to separate the workspace so there are fewer or no distractions at all. For example, Microsoft paid $1,000 to each of their employees to set up a home office space from where they could work from during the pandemic.
Loneliness and Lack of Socialization:
Isolation from the general buzz of the office and the team can be another challenge of working from home. Employees develop a feeling of loneliness, and this can negatively impacts productivity and team dynamics. Remote workers need to be proactive and look for arrangements for social interactions outside of work, like hanging out with your spouse, children, friends and family to deal with loneliness.
Some of you might be going back to normal, but according to Global Workplace Analytics, 37% of remote employees would take a 10% pay cut to continue work from home. As HR leaders and People Professionals, we need to adapt to the change and should improve our remote working policies to become more inclusive. Standard Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be created for both management and employees which will help the management to deal with the productivity and performance issues related to remote working.
Remote working is the future, therefore we must all collectively work towards embracing this change. In our opinion, the benefits outweigh the challenges!