Covid-19: The Catalyst for Permanent Remote Work?
In efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, many companies have implemented remote working, allowing employees to manage their duties from home while under quarantine.
During this time businesses will gain a very clear understanding of how their current organisation can handle remote work.
Unfortunately for many customer-facing businesses, remote work may not be entirely possible.
However, we’ve covered what these businesses, such as restaurants or retail stores, can do to overcome these conditions in this article.
With such a wide range of cloud-based communication tools at your disposal, that cover so many different aspects of operation, including remote meeting software, project management apps, invoicing and more, it’s never been easier to stay connected to your work team.
The recent crisis have forced governments to mandate that companies setup remote working conditions, but is this shift of working from home here to stay?
Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of how this might look.
What are the benefits?
Well for businesses, the advantages of allowing employees to work from home seem endless.
Office space is ridiculously expensive and an increase in remote working may completely diminish the need for a fixed office.
Flexible working spaces like WeWork offer on-demand workspace that let you pay-as-you-go for desks or offices, whenever a face-face meeting is required.
A 2-year study by Nicholas Bloom of Stamford University showed huge increases in productivity with home working, with an astounding 13% overall performance increase.
You can watch Bloom speak about the results of the study in his Tedx talk:
Other studies have shown that, in addition to improved productivity, home workers taker fewer sick days compared with their office-based colleagues.
Employees benefit by having their wasteful commute time completely eliminated.
No more awful traffic or bad public transport experiences; no wonder remote workers are happier!
There’s also the possibility for increased flexibility in regards to meeting.
When employees aren’t shackled to a 9-5 workday it means meetings can be arranged for anytime in order to suit staff.
This could mean that the future of work will make set working hours obsolete (for certain types of businesses, of course), where work will be based around set targets and KPIs.
Based on this information, it seems like a no-brainer to let your staff work from the comfort of their own homes, but are there any downsides?
What are the drawbacks?
The obvious concern that many managers will have when allowing staff to work remotely is the risk of team members abusing the practise.
How can you know what your employees are doing without being able to monitor them like in an office environment?
Hopefully you have a team of trustworthy staff members that you can feel confident in, and that they’re doing what they need to do.
However, this may not always be the case.
If so, perhaps having set targets with proper monitoring and better metrics for measuring productivity might set managers’ minds at ease and allow them to better oversee what their employees are doing.
Another issue, from the employee side, is the lack of socialisation that one would get while working in an office. For many people, particularly those who are more inclined to be introverted, would not find this a problem.
However, many of their outgoing peers who feed off of the energy from being surrounded by other people may find this to be a problem.
Increased work social events or having set days where people have the option of coming in might present a solution to this issue.
Companies could even offer their employees a monthly allowance for a flexible working space so that staff can have the social element of work when they feel they need it.
In the midst of the recent coronavirus outbreak it seems more and more companies are offering flexible work, the results of which will determine whether this trend will outlast Covid-19.