What exactly do we mean by working remotely? Working from home is often used synonymously with remote work, but it’s a practice that’s broader than that. While some people may be working from their kitchen tables or home workspaces, others are setting up in coffee shops or working alongside other people, at least part of the time, in co-working spaces or libraries.
For frontline workers like us, remote working means mobile working/ seamless working out from the workplace. We log in when we’re out in the field, whether that’s a train, a café or a hotel room. Some of us may be simply adopting remote working elements, like videoconferencing with teams in other countries, while in their workplaces.
This en masse remote working presents significant challenges for organizations, and some have resisted implementing work from home policies. Even companies that already have people working remotely will likely find technology like internal email servers and VPNs stretched by the numbers using them. Those managers used to handling just a small percentage of the workforce working remotely will also face challenges in terms of oversight and communication. And these issues are hugely magnified for organizations with no experience of people working remotely before now.
But coronavirus may be speeding up a process that would have happened in any case. And it may well be that after the pandemic is over, things won’t just go back to ‘normal.’ Those millions of first-time remote workers have now had a taste of life without the daily commute, or flying thousands of miles to attend face-to-face meetings.
“Work-life balance and flexible working was a concept that was brought to the fore as more millennials entered the workforce. With the widespread mandatory implementation of remote working, we can now expect policies that promote more flexibility and balance will be the preference of almost all people in the workforce.”
Working remotely – wherever you do it – is here to stay, and it’s getting more popular than ever. Because it’s what people want to do, and the technology is there to help us do it well.
Companies that are suspicious of remote working worry it will lead to a drop in productivity and make communication and oversight more difficult.This is where trust between a manager and individuals comes into play. It is important to note that trust needs to build up, and that takes a little bit of time.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of being able to work remotely. If people can carry out their tasks from home or another location, businesses can continue to function even if something happens to their premises or people are, for whatever reason, unable to come into work.Remote working is inextricably linked to flexible working. Even if people don’t have more choice over the hours they work, the lack of commute gives them back extra hours. This flexibility is particularly attractive to Millennials, who will make up about 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Research shows that having the option to work from home is the top priority for this group. And that means it needs to be a priority with companies that want to attract them.
It’s easy for remote workers to feel out on a limb. Without being able to pick up information by merely being around their colleagues, they can end up feeling detached from both the organization and the wider team.