Remote Working after COVID – Technology to enable the New Normal
Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog
The decade has started off on the wrong foot with a massive global health crisis. However, the COVID pandemic has been an eye opener and has forced us to scrutinize the dysfunction that has been latent within the human collective.
In a sense, the continuing outbreak can be viewed as a necessary evil of sorts, a precursor to systemic and individual transformation.
In the midst of all this upheaval, the workplace and corporate culture is witnessing a paradigm shift.
For starters, the majority of the global workforce moved to working from home in the blink of an eye.
The newly remote workforce necessitated immediate and drastic changes at a strategic and policy level of all organizations.
The main concern was that of productivity – companies were worried that productivity levels would drop with the majority of the workforce moving to teleworking mode.
However, with increased adoption of videoconferencing technologies like Zoom and collaboration and cloud storage tools, remote working turned out to be a boon rather than a bane.
Companies like Twitter went all the way by announcing that their staff can work from home forever if they wish. This decision was made in the wake of the company’s extremely successful work from home endeavor during the lockdown.
Google and Facebook have also stated that their staff can work remotely for the remainder of 2020.
Companies in India are encouraging workers to continue remote work for the next two to four months even though lockdown limitations have been eased by the government.
With remote working trending at the moment companies have to devise strategies around the new normal. The need of the hour is for technology that supports this move in a manner that productivity and bottom lines remain unaffected.
This is a surreal moment, what most are calling “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.”
Lately, digital communication tools have witnessed a rapid rise in demand. This protocol (shelter in place) to contain the pandemic is steering a digital transformation in the professional landscape world over.
Remote Work and Work-Life Balance
Employee retention is still the biggest challenge faced by HR managers today.
Most HR managers use flexible schedules and remote work options as a means to reduce attrition. According to a Gallup study, 59% of employees in the U.S. would like to continue working from home after COVID is resolved.
The biggest take away from home working is the much coveted work-life-balance everybody strives to achieve.
Eliminating travel reduces ones’ exposure to air pollution, improving health which in turn improves productivity.
More freedom and fewer interruptions have proven that remote workers are more productive than their office working counterparts.
A distance-working culture allows for talented people to be hired from all over the world.
Another advantage of this trend is the abolition of issues related to inter-team collaboration and cultural differences.
The most far reaching advantage of remote work is decreased environmental damage and lower carbon footprint.
Not EVERYONE can Work From Home
Health care professionals, manufacturing workers, frontline workers in construction, retail, pharma, hospitality, lab technicians- these are few of the numerous employees for whom working from home is not an option.
Despite these obvious issues, remote work does have other drawbacks.
Managing remote teams is the topmost priority in this setting. Supervising and evaluating work becomes a challenge.
How does one keep an employee accountable? Not all employees are of the same mental makeup. Some are self-motivated and driven, others, although equally competent, might need an added push to get the job done.
Without adequate technology, there is no means of tracking workflow and deliverables except through word of mouth.
While managing remote workers, leaders need to take the new normal under consideration and work accordingly to build momentum and foster engagement. Managers might have to use unique ways to motivate and boost employee morale during these bizarre times.
Why is Remote Work the New Normal?
Remote working is here to stay long after the coronavirus pandemic loses its novel status and becomes history.
Apart from employee retention and the other countless benefits, remote work will be supported by technological advances and will gain traction in some pockets of the corporate world.
According to a Gallup study, remote workers are more likely to be engaged with optimal engagement happening when employees spend 60% to 80% of their time working remotely. This translates to three to four days a week of remote work.
Technology is the Driving Force
Technology is the enabler in this mammoth “remote work experiment.” With cloud meeting and communication tools, managing remote teams becomes fool proof and easy.
Add to this cloud management software, video collaboration and tracking software, it becomes easy to organize meetings and keep everyone in sync with targets, making this a welcome and seamless transition.
The number of people downloading collaboration apps has almost doubled since the beginning of the lockdown.
Global Comms Agency FleishmanHillard conducted a study of 1000 remote workers in the US and UK. The study proved that workers’ experience with technology for remote communication have been very positive suggesting rise in digital comms for work with easing of lockdown measures.
Although remote work is presently inevitable, if enforced deliberately post the pandemic, people will have more time for R & R, family time and personal growth.
The remote work revolution is not just a disruption in work culture but a transition to a better, happier, more sustainable ecosystem in the years to come.