Engagement

What does working remotely mean?

A survey carried out in early 2020 by The University of Chicago revealed that it is possible for 37% of jobs in the United States to be performed entirely from home. This is a strong contrast to the days prior to modern technology when employees had to be based in their offices to access company systems.

It was reported back in 2019 that 25% of the American workforce was already carrying out work from home at least once a week and this number has only continued to rise throughout 2020. Research from a separate remote work-study indicates a positive response to this method of working with 98% of remote workers saying they would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.

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Remote working advantages and disadvantages

Due to this increased rate of at-home working, there has been debate regarding the pros and cons surrounding it and whether it is ultimately better or worse than traditional office-based roles. Let’s look at some of the key advantages and disadvantages of home working. 

Advantages of remote working:

  • Increased flexibility 
  • No commuting 
  • Reduced employee expenses 
  • Fewer sick days
  • Better productivity and performance
  • Employer profitability 
  • Happier employees
  • Larger hiring pool
  • Positive for the environment

Disadvantages of remote working

  • Reduced human contact
  • Difficulty presenting achievements
  • Blurred work and personal life
  • Less opportunities for team building
  • Less employee oversight
  • Communication issues
  • Lack of visibility and accountability

Tips for remote working

1. Create a remote working culture

This year has posed a challenge for companies previously unfamiliar with remote working as they are now faced with navigating their way through various working from home scenarios. This new territory means there are ground rules to establish that differ from those outlined in the office.

It’s important to tailor these working guidelines to accommodate this new method of working and it is vital to encourage employees to abide by these rules, just as thoroughly as they would follow office conduct, in order to see success.

2. Support employee engagement

It is difficult to ensure employees are engaging in their work to their usual standard when they are working from home. A way to combat this is to utilize different formats when engaging with workers and to check in with them regularly. Instead of solely using e-mail as a form of contact, try integrating video chats, podcasts and infographics.

It is important to have a clear outline and purpose for each piece of contact with remote workers as it is not useful to overload them with irrelevant information. In addition, it’s imperative that employees are praised for their hard work. If workers feel valued and appreciated for their efforts, it can make a huge difference to the standard of their work and help increase their feelings of well-being and purpose.

3. Build trust

One of the main challenges involved with remote working is that neither employers nor colleagues working on shared projects can see what anyone else is physically doing. It is vital for remote teams to build trust in order to produce a high standard of work and to successfully work together on shared targets and goals. A good practice is for companies to create their own team charter that clarifies the team’s shared purpose, their boundaries, and how they’ve agreed to work and behave together.

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Does remote working work?

Despite the challenges that occur with remote working, this does not mean these obstacles cannot be overcome with time and the exercising of appropriate techniques. Over the past few months millions of workers and countless companies over the world, have shown that despite the unforeseen circumstances, they were capable of rising to the challenge of making remote working a success.

In fact, 15 major companies have given the go-ahead for their staff to remain working remotely for the foreseeable future and some have even provided the option for employees to work from home indefinitely.

Another point to consider is the appeal of remote working to younger generations. According to a survey carried out by Deloitte and published on Forbers.com the shift to remote work has largely been viewed positively by employees, with more than 60% of younger generations saying they would like the option to work remotely more often after the crisis and use video conferencing instead of traveling for work. This positive reaction displayed by younger workers indicates that remote working is here to stay.

Impact of working from home

Now that remote working is going to be considered more of a norm moving forward, what does this mean for the working world as we know it?

There are a number of fears that exist regarding the negative repercussions remote working is going to have on a larger scale, such as there being fewer promotions and lower salaries for employees.

It was widely reported back in May that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would continue to allow his employees to work from home after the pandemic. However, the catch lies in the fact that these employees will have to inform the company of where they will be working from and those based in less expensive living areas will receive a lower salary. Facebook plans to utilize VPNs to confirm employee locations.

Overall, remote working can be considered a matter of personal preference with it having a positive impact on some and a negative impact on others. Ideally, the perfect solution would be to allow employees to choose whether they want to work in or out of the office.

Some workers will be happy to accept lower paychecks if it means they will have a better work-life balance and less stress. Others will opt for better opportunities to climb the career ladder and the ability to see their co-workers face to face on a daily basis.

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