The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has restricted mass gatherings to curb the spread of this viral infection. To combat this, most offices and organizations have shifted to remote working structures to maintain business as usual. But while may have to adjust to the reality of lockdowns being the new normal, for a key number of global organizations and startups, remote working had always been a significant part of their office culture. Their successful work culture and systems are reflected in their attractive growth and success stories. Therefore a key question arises – should teleworking systems be adopted in place of the existing office setups? The task of determining the feasibility of this transition from traditional workspaces to setting up remote working teams falls on the shoulders of the HR function. Therefore it is critical to acquaint ourselves with ins and outs of remote working.
What are the advantages of remote working?
Transitioning from traditional in house office systems to remote working is a paradigm shift. To get an assessment of all the pros involved is an understandable and justifiable need. Let’s see how telecommuting impacts your organization and workforce:
- Increased Productivity
A Stanford study involving 16,000 call center employees indicated that remote working resulted in an increased productivity of 13 percent. Remote workers seem to get much more work done than their counterparts working in an office. The flexible schedule, freedom to take a break on will, and absence of long commutes to work aids in an enhanced quality and quantity of output. Added to this the lack of distractions caused due to impromptu meetings and conversations with coworkers makes for an ample of time to complete an assignment. A 2018 global survey by Owl Labs showed that individuals who worked remotely at least once a month were 24% more likely to be productive and happy.
- A healthier and happier workforce
Being a part of the HR workforce, we are not unfamiliar with the high amount of stress levels caused by challenging interpersonal relationships and office politics. These not only account for an unhealthy work environment, but also for a disdained workforce. Also, the current office culture and systems are catalyzing the sedentary living of the employees. The long to and fro commute and hectic work routines drain employees on a daily basis. Remote workers, on the other hand, are shielded from the negative impact resulting from office rivalries and gossiping. Studies also indicate that with more time available, remote workers take better care of their health right from healthy eating to sufficient sleep. In a 2020 analysis by FlexJobs, 86% of people felt that working remotely reduced stress. Therefore remote employees enjoy a much happier and healthier lifestyle.
- Cost savings
In today’s time, the cost of setting up and working from an office space can be exorbitantly high. Obscenely expensive rates of real estate and elevated expenses in operating and maintaining offices can drain out an organization’s economic resources. Telecommuting, on the other hand, does not require the above-mentioned expenses. Therefore hiring remote workers can save excessive money. In a 2015 study by State of Telecommuting (US employee workforce), employers having teleworking work systems saved $44 billion in total.
- Availability of large talent pool
The normal hiring procedure involves scouting for potential workers in local regions. With coaxing and enough money increment, we are able to convince workers to shift to another city to be a part of the office workforce. But still, this restricts our access to the local talent pool only. With teleworking this is not the case. You have an opportunity to hire from the global work pool. This results in an increment in the accessibility to the talent available. Also, a multicultural workforce promotes an enhanced level of bonding amongst employees.
All in all teleworking can prove beneficial in terms of both the quality of the workforce and value generated by an organization. Before setting up a telecommuting wing of the workforce, as an HR representative, it becomes crucial to know about the future of remote working.
The Future of Remote Working
Global analyses of existing remote working based organizations indicate revolutionary changes in the existing workspaces. In their 2019 future workforce report, Upwork showed that 73% of all company departments will have remote workers by 2028. Therefore before organizing a remote working team, it is necessary to update ourselves with upcoming trends and systems
- A key number of companies including A-league global organizations will switch on to hybrid models of remote working. This involves a transition in phases to test and experiment with remote working for team feedback based on the challenges faced.
- The shift to an online work system has to be supported by necessary applications and tools to tackle needs like mass communication and personal work channels. Existing teleworking based companies are using indigenous applications to tackle these requirements. We can witness a rise of applications catering to these needs which will aid in establishing a better remote working environment.
- Blockchain technology presents the means necessary to successfully run a telecommuting workforce. Its peer to peer model and availability of all the data shared on the platform can make it an ideal technology to rely on. For employees hired on a contract basis, smart contracts can present an ideal option to ensure smooth functioning. In the upcoming months, enterprises may want to be on a lookout for upcoming blockchain platforms specifically catering to work systems.
- Working in traditional offices reportedly induces demoralizing sense in generation-Z. According to Forbes, a regular 9-5 is not an ideal working condition sought by Gen-Z. Mass scale adaptability of remote working will, therefore, witness a rise in any workforce constituting Gen-Z professionals. Since a key workforce consisting of gen-Z and millennials will take over the baby boomers, establishing systems that are ideal for the upcoming workforce is a lucrative choice.
Key Challenges to Tackle in a Remote Working System
To wholly realize the positive impact of remote working on our organization, it is crucial to know various challenges experienced by existing teleworking companies. The HR function will need to counter these hindrances to successfully run our remote working systems.
- Lack of proper communication channels:
The task assigned to the remote workers needs to be explained effectively. An absence of in-person interactions in emergency situations results in delayed work submissions. This necessitates the requirement of issuing detailed work guidelines and establishing channels for quick and easy communication. Systems and protocols to follow in case of emergency situations should be built and clearly communicated.
- Trust factor:
It is crucial to hire individuals we trust and then trust the employees we hire. A relation of mutual trust should be proactively built with our employees for better work culture and emotional health. This results in an increased commitment to the organization’s goals.
- Lack of human experience and loneliness:
Since remote employees work from their homes, most of them are bound to experience a certain level of loneliness. An absence of human contact can take a toll on their emotional and mental health. The job, therefore, falls on our shoulders to establish a culture where bonds are encouraged and partnered assignments are promoted. Although video conferencing establishes a human connection, it lacks the essence of human contact. Therefore remote workers should be encouraged and adequately funded to work from co-working spaces where they can socialize and network.
It is important to build a teleworking system that adequately counters these obstacles. We can learn from the existing remote working based companies such as Trello, Zapier, and HotJar, whose online guides on successfully running and managing a remote working workforce share useful methods and structures to build upon your own telecommuting systems. Executed correctly, organizations can retain top talent and also save expenses on setting up traditional office spaces. The Covid-19 situation is an ideal scenario to understand the impact of remote working on balance sheets. Of course, active feedback needs to be sought from our employees on such models and workflows while we iterate and improve. The integrated result of your efforts and feedback by employees will decide the course of your permanent shift to remote working.
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