Is remote working really working?

Remember when you used to wake up earlier than necessary to get ready and commute to work? Travel during peak hours, pay for an overpriced sandwich at lunch that never filled you up and then pay for an afternoon ‘pick me up’ coffee and snack to see you through to the end of the day.

Remember catching up with your work friends in person? Chatting about what you did on the weekend or how much your manager had annoyed you that day. Going for after work drinks because Thursday was the new Friday…and because you could.

All seems like a distant memory since the global lockdown triggered a work from home experiment that appears more than likely to outlast the pandemic itself. This is not necessarily a bad result as remote working can lead to a happier and more productive workforce. However, for many, especially business owners and leaders this has been quite the challenge to adapt to and many are still hopeful they will have all their staff back in one place post Covid.

Let’s start with the good news.

Prior to the pandemic less than 30% of workers had never worked from home in the UK, but during the lockdown it was reported more than 60% of the UK’s population was working remotely. A drastic shift that has benefited many and not just in the UK. So, what is working about this way of work?

  • Flexibility – We’ve all been trying to master the art of a work life balance. but now we finally have. You can plan your work day around personal responsibilities and you can wear what you feel comfortable in. Even create a personalized work environment, like have the radio on whilst you work or your dog by your side keeping you company.

  • Saving time and money – Travel, lunch, workwear, work events and so forth no longer need to be paid for. No more waiting for the bus or cramming on to a crowded train. You don’t need to factor in additional hours in your day just to get to work or to get home. As a business you have less overheads with most of your workforce now not in an office.

  • Increased productivity – More than 58% of the world’s workforce who are working remotely have stated they feel more motivated to work, are less stressed during working hours and have less distractions. International companies have also reported their employees have increased productivity since the shift to remote working.

Fujitsu, Google, JP Morgan, Twitter are just a few organizations that have embraced the change and have adapted their business models accordingly by vowing to make remote working more permanent post Covid. Working remotely may have been a luxury, unfavorable or even stigmatized in many countries pre Covid but it’s now become the norm and arguably the future of the way we work.

The other side of the coin.

Global company surveys and independent polls have highlighted some issues employees are facing, such as, they have too many distractions at home, not an adequate space to work from, are not taking regular breaks and miss everyday interactions in a workplace. Employers and senior management in different sized companies are also reporting some difficulties. Keeping the engagement and communication within teams alive, managing accountability without micromanaging and questioning how productive employees really are when working remotely.

These are real issues but thankfully there are solutions.

  • Plan your day beforehand - Write a (realistic) to do list for the day and stick to it and always schedule in short regular breaks throughout your working day.

  • Virtual meetings - A simple call or video call can make people feel more connected. Monthly or quarterly company meetings can provide useful updates and keep the company’s culture and values at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

  • Project management tools – Wrike, Asana, Slack are just a few great apps you can use to keep your team collaborating and build a culture of transparency.

The jury is still out on if remote working is really working but as we navigate through our new unpredictable world, interweave a work space in our homes and continue to connect and engage with our peers virtually, we realize a new era in the world of work has begun.

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