Every cloud has a silver lining… and the Covid-19 crisis has just injected a huge shot in the arm to acceptance of remote working. Before lockdown we had heard about the Gig Economy, which promotes remote working as a key element. That has now been accelerated hugely and instead of talking about remote working becoming a norm in the future, we are now living in a world where remote working is the norm.
What does this change mean? Should we embrace it as a benefit, or see it as a necessary evil we are forced to accept? As someone that enjoys change, let me share my positive thoughts on how remote working really does work:
It all starts with Trust. We will not embrace any change without Trust. Do managers and team members trust each other enough to move away from outmoded supervisory methods? Do managers have the ability to move away from equating ‘presenteeism’ with productivity? Will team members maintain their work ethic if their manager no longer has the ability to drop by the desk to check what they are doing? Critically, leaders and team members must listen to each other and refine together their plan to make it do-able. Do-ability is key, so here they should look at it from both a soft side (person/teaming approach) and from a technical side (e.g. provide the tools necessary to work well from home).
Efficiency – I like to call it Gross Domestic* Product!
66% of professionals think they would be more efficient while working remotely than in a traditional solely office-based way.
So what are some of the factors that increase Efficiency?
- Reduced commuting time.
- Reduced travel cost.
- Higher flexibility in hours worked, as when employees see companies being flexible they reciprocate and become more flexible with their time.
- Less distractions and interruptions, so the employee can switch off from random interruptions more easily by agreeing to go ‘offline’ to get an important task complete.
- Lower office rent & energy costs, as companies that embrace remote working can have a smaller office footprint.
- More efficient use of the planet’s resources.
Morale – I like to call it Gross Domestic* Happiness!
50% of the global workforce already works remotely; part or full-time. While Covid-19 has seen that number rise dramatically, it has been driven by the fact that the option to work flexibly (including a mix of remote/home and work locations) is more important to millennials than salary.
So what are some of the factors that increase Morale?
- Productivity/Efficiency is higher, due to the elimination of wasted time.
- Remove the stress of the commute.
- Ability to have bespoke/more comfortable working environment.
- More family friendly; we can pop out of our home office to see our loved ones more easily.
- Globally dispersed teams or teams in large organisations feel more equalised and close when all/many work remotely. The New York Times reported that employees who spend three to four days working off-site feel the most engaged with their teams.
- The personal touch. Seeing your colleagues in their home environment can show their personal side more and reduce formal barriers.
In summary, remote working boosts morale & efficiency when both managers and team members embrace the change positively, construct the plan together, put in place the necessary soft and hard (technical) necessities, realise the perceived or real power/accountability shift and be brave so that when things do not work perfectly, the lessons can be learned rather than going backwards to old practices.
So go forth and take the leap together. Move away from the traditional 100% office-based working and instead provide the option for yourself and your team to work remotely where it makes sense for both…. then, see your morale, efficiency and productivity rise.
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Author: Peter Ryan, Managing Director, Aspira, The Netherlands.