Is Remote Working Here to Stay?
Remote working is not a new concept that emerged due to COVID-19. But it is, for sure, a concept that became the new normal because of COVID-19. A recent Gartner webinar snap poll revealed that 91% of HR leaders across the Asia Pacific region indicated that their companies had implemented remote working to keep workflow going through the pandemic. The pandemic has forced companies in Asia to begin experimenting with the idea of remote working, despite many businesses being completely unprepared for it.
The Benefits of Remote Working
HSBC CFO Ewen Stevenson recently shared how remote working makes financial sense, as it basically helps reduce office costs. In fact, a recent study showed three in four CFOs strongly consider shifting part of their workforce to permanent remote positions due to the overall cost benefits.
But aside from lower overhead expenses with remote working, companies can now create teams where skills are preferred over employees' geographical location. This improves the company's ability to produce higher quality output for their intended markets.
Meanwhile, remote employees now have the flexibility that can increase their productivity, while also lowering transportation costs. Not having to commute to work also gives them less stress and more free time to pursue other goals, potentially increasing their sense of empowerment.
For remote work to reach global adaptation, it has to be more efficient than traditional office work for any type of business. So far, technology has been doing well in that development. If it weren't for COVID-19, most of us would still not be familiar with Zoom and Google Meet. But while solutions like these — including Slack, Trello, Skype, and Google Drive — make the transition to remote work easier by connecting employers and employees online, more innovation in communication is still needed to take the concept to the next level.
The Biggest Challenges for Companies and Employees
One tough challenge in remote working for employers is ensuring that employees are always well-informed about company decisions, and that they can focus well on their work. Now that most people are forced to work from home, more distractions are present in the workplace. Managers struggle to supervise operations for lack of physical interaction, leaving so much room for miscommunication and delayed feedback. Tracking work and productivity also proves to be difficult, as well as the immediate recognition of conflicts when they arise.
Meanwhile, employees struggle to stay connected to their jobs, and it can even be impossible for some to find a productive work routine at home. Juggling personal and professional responsibilities, in addition to the anxiety from being stuck inside their house, plus the stress that comes with a pandemic can really take its toll on the overall wellbeing of employees. This, of course, affects their productivity and performance during work hours.
This is why professionals across the globe must practice healthy remote working habits, which management should promote. James Gonzales recommends setting definite work hours and spaces, as well as investing in the right equipment and technology that can make remote work more comfortable and efficient. It’s also a good idea to implement wellness programmes that incentivise exercise, healthy breaks, and socialisation among teams. Both employers and employees need to keep in mind that well-managed remote working that is adjusted to be made favourable for everyone, will make work more efficient and productive. It will take effective communication and teamwork to make remote working stay as the new normal office.
The Future of Remote Working
It’s most likely that remote working is here to stay, although maybe not for all businesses. With the stress of a pandemic eventually gone, the benefits will offer even more convenience that was not realised until companies were forced to embrace the remote setup.
It was previously mentioned how Zoom may permanently alter business travel. And perhaps, it will permanently reduce the need for it, with work-from-home protocols, telecommuting, webinars, and virtual meetings becoming the new normal for running businesses.
Similarly, software developers, content creators, SEO experts, accountants, and other jobs where productivity is easily monitored remotely, are already leading the way.