01 May 2020

Remote working – the future of work

Nowadays remote working is not a luxury but a necessity. The COVID19 pandemic has been a forced test on businesses around the world to work remotely as much as possible.

Waking up two hours before to make yourself presentable and to beat rush hour traffic is not everyone’s cup of tea. Flexibility is yearned by many in today’s fast paced life. Employee turnover results in hefty costs on businesses and enhanced flexibility increases retention rate.

From an employer point of view one of the advantages of remote working is having a larger talent pool with no extra costs for relocation and work permits. This was a benefit long before the 2020 pandemic crisis dawned on the world and is even more valid today.

It’s vital to establish a remote working policy and procedure to enable a clear understanding of what the company expects from the employee when working from home or the office or any other place for that matter, keeping the employee engaged and productive despite not being physically in the office. There are numerous tools on the market that facilitate this way of working.

Many challenges come about when working remotely. Major factors are distractions at home; kids, pets, frequent breaks (to watch a series, to play a game on your psp, going on the roof or balcony for some sun), and so on and so forth. To minimise some of these distractions companies should offer childcare opportunities and set targets for work deliverables wherever possible.

A morning team check-in can help to charge the employees by having an initial 10 minute non-related work chat and the next 20 minutes (time will differ depending on the size of the team) to help them get focused on what needs to be done that day.

Deciding to move the whole workforce to work remotely will dissolve all office related costs that can be used in other ways such as having more frequent team events and providing a home-office allowance to employees which would still result in cost saving overall.

In order to understand whether remote working is the right solution for your company/team/department, one can start to test this in phases. For example, giving the opportunity to the employees to work one or two days remotely and the rest at the office while monitoring their performance.

The dark-side to working from home is the “always-on” concept. When you do not leave a physical office, sometimes it is hard to draw a line between work and personal time. It has been proven that people that work remotely take more frequent breaks but dedicate longer working hours. It is recommended that a clear agreement of the working hours is set with the employer and possibly even with the family to avoid the possibility of ending up with a 24/7 job rather than a 40-hour per week one.

Some few tips and tricks to get remote working right are;

Finding a spot that is quiet, comfortable, bright, and away from distractions. Headphones might be useful in blocking out background noise. Get all your essentials ready to go before you start work so that you do not interrupt your flow once you have started.

Working remotely can get lonely. Don’t forget that your team and colleagues are just a call or instant message away. Use technology to stay connected. If appropriate, use the video conferencing feature so you get to see each other. And remember to check in with your team regularly.

You don’t have to put on full business attire but having a regular routine can help you set a good tone for the day. Mirror as many aspects of your normal routine as possible, except the commute, of course.

It’s easy to get lost in your work. If you take small breaks (best to fix a time) throughout the day to stretch, exercise, grab a healthy snack, or chat with a friend, you’ll recharge your mental batteries. When you return to work, you’ll be more focused and engaged to tackle the next task.

Ensure you establish clear expectations with your family and friends to protect your productivity. Kids, pets, TV, radio, cooking, tinkering, chores, home renovations – working from home can sometimes mean navigating a minefield of distractions. So reflect on what distracts you most and find ways to manage your day as effectively as you can.

We’re in the 21st century and surrounded by all possible technologies to facilitate remote working. Yet, numerous organizations still retain a sceptical approach towards it. Mentoring businesses and employees will enable us to keep working in the direction of fully remote work. Although it might not suit all business sectors it is imperative that flexibility is the quintessential foundation of the organization culture to be competitive in today’s market.