Many of us have found ourselves working from home recently, without much advance planning or preparation. Suddenly our dining room table, home office or living room couch is doing double duty as our workplace. The commute is gone, but so are some of the connections. It’s the new normal that we’ve had to adjust to on the fly.
Let’s recall that remote working is not a new workplace trend. It’s actually been around since the 70’s. Whether you call it telecommuting, telework, work from anywhere (WFA), flexible work arrangements (FWA) or remote working, it all means the same thing – employees aren’t showing up to a centralized location each day.
Rethinking the workplace
Work is no longer tied to a specific physical place. Suddenly we are being forced to adopt new mindsets about what defines our workplace. In a recent conversation with Laurel Farrar of Distribute Consulting and the Remote Work Association, she said, “…the workplace still holds to the idea of an off-site worker, meaning that the workplace is a centralized location in an office building or a shop, and that you are working away from that. We are trying to shift that into a virtual workplace mindset, saying our workplace is comprised of the tools, workflows and relationships that we have and we use software or technology to facilitate those protocols. It is not a place anymore. The buzzy tagline is ‘work is something you do, not somewhere you go.’”
The silver lining
There are many aspects of remote working that are good for business. They include:
- Reduced overhead costs. Real estate is expensive. Remote working can provide significant savings on real estate for employers.
- Improved productivity. Yes, it’s true! Remote workers report being more efficient.
- Increased loyalty. 74% of survey respondents agree that the ability to work remotely would make them less likely to leave their employer.
The new normal
Remote working is now our way of life as we deal with the COVID-19 crisis. For many, it is presenting challenges. Balancing work and life is especially stressful as our mobility has become limited.
Now is the time for leaders and managers to become even more keenly aware of the needs of their workforce. There are many challenges impacting employees. So what’s a leader or manager to do?
Provide the tools. An essential responsibility of a manager is to ensure his or her employees have the tools to do their job. When extenuating circumstances force change upon us, we may need to rethink those tools. Shortages in laptops and other essential equipment may prevent people from having what they need to be productive. Assess what your team needs and work to provide it.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. This may seem basic, but it is that important, especially now. If you manage a small team, hold a daily team huddle so that employees are connecting, know their work priorities, and can coordinate with their teammates. If you lead an organization, provide frequent updates to keep employees informed.
Be flexible. Meeting business objectives under stressful circumstances is challenging. Consider where you can provide more leeway on deadlines and reset expectations.
Lighten up. It’s okay to keep it light and have some fun. Have a good laugh about the inevitable “kidbombing” or “petbombing” in virtual team meetings. Find ways to celebrate with your team. Even little wins and accomplishments can seem big right now.
Visit this summary article for additional information and statistics on remote working.
Remote working is the new normal and it is here to stay. Let’s make sure the well-being of the workforce is a key consideration.