With much of the world battling Coronavirus, many countries across the globe have encouraged people to work from home if they can.
Of course, this is not possible for many people who keep vital services going like healthcare or law and order. However, for many office workers it is possible. This outbreak has demonstrated that people can work from.
It remains to be seen whether or not this has impacted productivity, but if it hasn’t many people will question why working from home won’t be the new norm.
As a company, if more of your workers are home-based then you need less office space to house those workers that do come into the office.
If fewer people have to commute, then employees can see the benefit of not having to purchase train tickets or fuel for their cars.
The environment can benefit with fewer harmful greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere. This already seems to be having an impact on the environment.
The flip side is that employees would have to pay for additional energy to heat and light their homes, when they would ordinarily be in an office for much of the day as well as the cost of broadband.
If working from home becomes the default for most office workers, then how you manage staff remotely becomes an issue.
Being able to work from is a relatively new phenomenon. Improvements in technology, in particular broadband speeds and cloud computing have made this possible.
Are remote workers more or less productive? There is much debate around this.
On one side people believe they are more productive as they are more focused due to fewer distractions and less stressed due to no commute.
On the other side some people believe they are less productive as they get distracted by doing laundry in their ‘breaks’ or they miss the face to face collaboration with co-workers in an office.
It does seem that working from home will be more commonplace and people will have to learn to adapt their working style to this new norm.
Managing staff remotely can be challenging. Not having face to face contact means communication can be more difficult. When speaking face to face, body language and empathy can be easier to read.
However, video conferencing for the most part can still be quite clinical and getting subconscious feedback from a person’s body language can be difficult.
Employees should be given methods of using their emotional intelligence through video conferencing.
Regular check-ins are even more important than ever with remote working. Documenting these check-ins are vital so you have a record and you can look back at how employees have been performing.
SAP SuccessFactors or Workday offer the ability to track 1-2-1 meetings that can be used in performance management.
It does look though, that once the lockdown has ended many companies may be more receptive to remote working after allowing employees to work from home during the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
Training employees in the art of successful video conferencing will be more commonplace. With increased video conferencing, let’s hope the days of opening a call with “Hello, can you hear me” or “I have been issues getting onto the call” will be limited.
Working remotely, can sometimes lead to social isolation. With many people self isolating due to Coronavirus, this is magnified.
If you live alone and your only regular human contact is when you go into the office, then working from home can be a challenge.
Looking after employee’s mental health and wellbeing is vital for remote workers. The lack of actual human contact can be detrimental to the wellbeing of employees.
It’s crucial that employees are aware of the importance of looking after their mental wellbeing especially when working remotely.
They need to also know there is support available. Access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can offer help to employees in times of need.
1. Organize virtual coffee mornings
2. Have regular virtual online exercise classes
3. Arrange virtual quizzes
4. Encourage staff to take regular breaks
5. Ensure everyone is aware of support available like an Employee Assistance Program
For many years futurists were saying that video calling was on the horizon, but now it is now finally here. One could say we are now living and working in the future.
There are challenges and working remotely requires a change of mindset for both companies and employees.
There needs to be a level of trust on the side of the employer. The employee must also ensure they repay that trust through doing their job.
The short answer is maybe it has. It remains to be seen whether the changes in working practices will have any lasting effect.
One thing for sure is that people will maybe more reflective in how and where they work in the future after the Coronavirus pandemic has subsided.
Businesses will also need to take stock in how they operate in the future. Companies will question how they manage their workforce, where they locate their offices and how big they are.