It has almost been a year since the new lifestyle of working from home was introduced to our lives. With time, work from home has evolved into work from anywhere. However, now with the recent developments on the vaccine and decline in the daily reported cases, corporate organizations are brainstorming whether it is time to bring the old-school style back and call the teams to the office, at least for some days in a week.
In order to come to a conclusion for this eminent question, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of the remote working lifestyle.
First, let’s take a look at how the remote setting has benefited the organizations and the employees.
How remote working is benefitting organizations and employees?
Let’s take a look:
Cutting down commute
The biggest boon of the current work setting has been saying goodbye to the long hours of daily travel in the crowded public transport. This has led to productive working hours along with the saved bucks on fares.
Better work-life balance
The trickle-down effect of less commute is a better work-life balance for the employees. They can simply turn off their system after work and enjoy time with their families. This has made individuals spend more time with their families leading to an improved quality of life.
Gone are the days when someone had to pack up their whole life and move to a new city for a better job opportunity. With the globally accepted norm of remote working, anyone with a decent internet can join any organization. This has allowed a significant exchange of ideas and workforce across the world.
With more time in hand, people have seen an overall boost in their creativity. Everyone is utilizing the time in learning new skills for professional growth and picking up hobbies for personal development. A sense of growth motivates people to improve further and betters the mental state as well.
Reduced expenses of organizations
With employees working remotely, organizations are saving a chunk of funds that otherwise are spent on office rent, travel facilities, food coupons. This becomes important especially for startups or businesses that are in the initial stage of growth.
Though the benefits of WFH are many, it doesn’t mean that this concept does not come with its own challenges.
Challenges faced by organizations and employees due to remote working
Let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges faced by remote teams:
In order to bring a team on the same page, effective communication is the most important. With remote working, this has led to multiple Zoom calls, the creation of various playbooks, and numerous chat groups. According to recent studies, cyber fatigue has become a major issue because of this. Every minute requirement becomes a call, an email, or a video call that can often overwhelm the person.
Virtual team building
Nothing compares to the physical gatherings in the office where people can engage and know each other for things apart from work. It is difficult to cultivate the same essence over a virtual meet. Team building over virtual platforms needs extra effort and might not feel authentic to some people.
Monotony at work
While working in an office, one comes across many co-workers and shares a thought or two, or learns about their job as well. Also, it is not uncommon for people to go out together for a cup of tea in the evening. This casual interaction and knowledge transfer are not much feasible over a remote platform as it would require a separate calendar slot of your day! Such healthy banter among co-workers goes missing and employees get so caught up in their daily tasks that blocking a 15/30-minute calendar for this seems like another task.
If any organization wants to go ahead with remote working then it is essential to build an effective strategy to tackle these challenges. This will give a long-term plan of action for managing the remote work.
How to tackle remote working challenges and make it sustainable for long-term?
Let’s go through couple of solutions that can help us face special challenges of remote working and make it healthy and sustainable for long run with right set of remote working tools and strategies:
Streamlined and clutter-free communication channel
Effective communication is the key to setting up the right expectations and eventually meeting those expectations. In order to communicate a single thought to other teams, it is essential to take care of the channels you are using to do so.
- Use a common tool for communication across the organization so that the employees don’t have to shuffle between the various applications.
- Decide what you want to communicate and then proceed with doing so through an apt method, a message, an email, or a video call. The key is to identify the urgency and the complexity of the message you want to deliver.
- Respect the time of your peers. Share the agenda of the call beforehand and then block the calendar of teams accordingly. Don’t stretch the call for hours unnecessarily.
- Almost all the communication channels provide the option of creating common groups/rooms. Avoid creating multiple groups that more or less serve the same purpose.
It is important to devise some simple ways of online communications and following the online communication etiquettes. It is important to make sure that team members are not overwhelmed with the flooded inbox. Also, the simpler the communication, the easier it is to understand the task and finish it.
With managers not being around you all the time, it shouldn’t mean that you have a free pass to procrastinate or avoid the work. On the other hand, the employees under a manager shouldn’t be worried about how their performance will be judged.
It is essential for managers to communicate clearly about KRAs and KPIs of the employees. A quarterly performance report with review calls needs to be scheduled so that both parties can discuss the achievements and goals of the last quarter. Transparency regarding the parameters of judgment sets the expectations right from the beginning and the employees can focus their time and efforts appropriately.
All work and no play can make anyone a dull pal. Human resource managers are needed to maintain the same level of team engagement and spirit that can be seen in an office. Fun weekdays and interaction sessions can be planned for all the teams so that the problem of loneliness at work can be managed.
Recognition at work
Recognition for the work and efforts is a basic need for any person. In contrast to normal times, nowadays, an appreciation is restricted to a chat-box. There is no problem with this. However, if an appreciation is received in front of the peers, then it creates an overall positive atmosphere and motivates the employees even more. Therefore, a habit of acknowledging someone’s efforts publicly can be a great method to boost the morale of people at work.
To say that remote working is good or bad is very subjective. But it is definitely a great option considering the benefits of this practice. Also, it is debatable how much employees are willing to leave the new lifestyle and go back to the offices again. Nonetheless, the main objective should be to work efficiently without sacrificing personal life. Organizations shouldn’t go back to the old routine just because that is the decades-long practice. Also, they shouldn’t get too comfortable with remote working and should continuously strive to overcome the current challenges.
Either way, the goal should be to build a healthy environment where people can give their best and have a quality life as well.