Factors to Consider When Implementing Remote Working Model in the Long-Term
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues all around the world, remote working has become the new norm for large multinational corporations, such as Google and Microsoft, as well as small and medium-sized business entities.
We are now seeing signs of more and more people returning to their office premises. For example, if you connect with your peers, clients or service providers via video conference then you will find many of them sitting in their offices rather than working from home. However, a significant percentage of people is still apprehensive or reluctant about working from their office space. It can be said that more and more businesses are gradually shifting towards the new future work environment which involves a combination of on-site and remote working.
The past year and a half has made many businesses realize that it is highly important for them to devise a long-term strategy to address the needs of all their work-force irrespective of whether they work from office or remotely from any other place.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Accelerated the Trend of Remote Working
The trend of working remotely or from home wasn’t new before 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses all around the world to make working from home an integral element of their business operations. The work as we know looks set for fundamental changes going forward.
According to Gallup, 39% of employees worked from home or remotely in some capacity in the year 2012. By 2016, employees working remotely increased to 43%. As per another survey conducted during the height of restrictions on schools and business due to the pandemic, showed that 51% of American citizens were working either from home or remotely 100% of the time.
While some employees want to return to their office premises, it is very clear that the trend of remote working will continue going forward.
Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, surveyed more than 120 company leaders representing Legal, HR, Real Estate and Finance, 47% of the respondents said that they intend to permit people to work from home or any other remote place full-time going forward.
A business entity aiming to achieve optimal remote working results requires a sound strategy for setting employees up for success together with the availability of right procedures, tools and methods.
Therefore, it is important for a business to consider the following factors before it decides on developing and implementing a strategy connected with achieving optimal remote working results:
Processes and Procedures
Your firm may have a number of procedures and processes in place that are followed by different people for discharging their job duties and responsibilities. The important thing for a business to consider is whether its processes and procedures will work if all or some of the employees are working remotely.
A number of firms identified gaps in their digital and paperless procedures when they implemented the policy of remote working at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important for businesses to identify and address the gaps and loopholes in their online and remote processes if it wants to implement remote working even after the pandemic.
When different organizations were forced to shift their operations on a remote-working model last year, many simply allowed their employees to take home whatever equipment and technology they had or owned. At that time, it was critical for businesses all around the world that work-from-home model worked. It has been more than a year and a half since the pandemic started and businesses moved to remote working, it is the right time for businesses to consider what is working and what isn’t.
Mentioned below are some of the factors which a business should consider when assessing whether it has the appropriate technology and related procedures in place for implementing a model that involves on-site working as well as remote working:
- Remote access: your employees should be able to access all the data, documents, and applications that are needed for carrying out their duties and responsibilities effectively.
- Project and workflow management: visibility is key. Access to cloud-based project and workflow management solutions and applications not only provide that visibility but also allow the employees to keep track of the projects, tasks and deadlines allocated to them.
- Communication: A number of different video conferencing applications allow employees to communicate and interact as effectively irrespective of whether they are working from home or office. A business should also consider various chat tools to facilitate team building as well as quick communication.
Leadership and Management
In addition to having the appropriate technology as well as the right processes in place, leadership and management is critical for a business if it wants to help its employees in remote working. When employees operate from home or any other remote place, they may feel disconnected from their employers and their colleagues. Communication is key, and it needs to be transparent and frequent.
Top management of business entities should schedule frequent and informal check-ins with their workforce. Conduct short and quick surveys within your organization and provide your employees with opportunities to ask questions as well as share their concerns.
Business owners and senior management should pay attention to instances where their employees are struggling with techno-stress. Many people are stuck at their homes for the past year and a half and are working more than their office hours. Employers and senior management should ensure that their employees are taking time off to rest and relax. Leaders and senior management needs to ensure that their teams are prioritizing their mental and physical well-being.
Implementing remote working model in the long-term, beyond the pandemic, is not as simple as letting your employees choose whether to continue working remotely or to return to the office. You would have to consider your organization’s culture, goals, mindsets, processes, and technology. Evaluating the aforementioned will help you in creating a sound and sustainable remote working culture in which employees can carry out their job duties and responsibilities efficiently and bring their best to work irrespective of where they are.