Remote working, also known as home working, has become increasingly prevalent since the onset of the pandemic. While it may have initially disrupted commerce and the economy, businesses have adapted, and remote working has emerged as a viable long-term option. In fact, the advantages of home working benefits have become more apparent over time. Uncertainty surrounding the virus and pandemic timeline has also worked in favor of remote working.Working from home offers numerous benefits for both employees and employers alike. However, it also comes with its share of challenges. From the perspective of management and HR, it’s essential to consider the effectiveness of a remote working policy and how it translates into work output and the optimal management of resources.
Despite the challenges, the benefits of home working cannot be ignored. Implementing a remote working policy can result in increased productivity, reduced overhead costs, and improved employee satisfaction. It also allows businesses to tap into a larger pool of talent beyond geographical limitations.However, there are certain challenges to be mindful of when formulating a remote working policy. These include ensuring clear communication channels, maintaining team cohesion, and addressing issues related to work-life balance. Additionally, employers must consider the security and safety of company data and ensure employees have the necessary equipment and resources to work from home effectively.In conclusion, home working benefits are numerous, and it has emerged as a viable long-term option for businesses. However, it’s essential to consider the challenges and formulate policies that address these concerns to ensure the effective implementation of remote working.
Benefits of Working from Home
Large-scale internet penetration in recent years and good connectivity have made remote working a feasible option. Other than efficiency and business continuity, there are several other remote working advantages for both staff and management that we have listed below.
No Daily Commute
One of the primary benefits of home working is that it saves a significant amount of time that would otherwise be spent commuting to the office. The daily commute can eat into productive time, with an average travel time of half an hour to 2 hours. This can translate to nearly a full workday lost in a week. Such lost time can affect employees’ productivity and work-life balance.Remote working benefits employees by eliminating the need for a daily commute, which saves valuable time. Employees can start work on time, which can significantly enhance their productivity. Additionally, without the need for a daily commute, employees can enjoy a more relaxed morning routine and spend more time with their family, contributing to better work-life balance.
Home working benefits are not limited to employees alone. Employers can also benefit significantly from a remote working policy. Eliminating the need for employees to commute to work can reduce overhead costs associated with maintaining a physical office, such as rent, utilities, and maintenance. It can also expand the pool of talent available to businesses beyond geographical limitations.
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Location Independence Lets You Tap into a broader Talent Pool
One of the primary benefits of home working is that it expands the hiring pool for businesses, providing access to talent from all around the country or world. This means that businesses can hire the most experienced and talented candidates for the job, regardless of their geographical location. This expanded hiring pool is a significant benefit for management.
For employees, the benefits of home working are numerous. It provides them with the opportunity to move to their hometowns or locations with better quality yet affordable lifestyles. They can enjoy spending more time with their family, avail better educational opportunities for their children, and have opportunities for up-skilling, among others. Such benefits enhance employees’ job satisfaction and contribute to better work-life balance.Moreover, home working also eliminates the need for employees to commute to work, which saves valuable time and money, and reduces the associated stress. This benefit translates into increased employee productivity, job satisfaction, and better mental health.home working benefits both employers and employees alike. It expands the hiring pool for businesses, providing access to the most talented and experienced candidates. For employees, it provides numerous benefits, including better work-life balance, opportunities for up-skilling, and improved quality of life. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to consider implementing a remote working policy to enjoy these numerous benefits.
Better Overall Employee Health & Work-Life Balance due to Flexible Schedule
Remote working statistics indicate that remote work has grown by 173% since 2005. It allows the employees to create a flexible schedule for themselves. They can plan and manage their day better. They can spend more time with their family and also work on physical fitness. All these lead to low stress and better physical and mental health. This also has an indirect correlation with the organization’s performance which we have elaborated below.
This remote working advantage again works for both employees and the management. All that commuting, coffee & smoking breaks, dining out, buying corporate wear comes out of the employees’ pockets. There is also a greater risk of contracting communicable diseases like common colds, flu, etc. leading to sick leaves and medical expenses. All this adds over time. Work from home lets you save all that money which you can invest for a secure future.
Management also benefits with considerable savings on rental, commuting, and administrative expenses. Fewer sick leaves lead to higher productivity. Less sick leaves also mean savings on medical reimbursement and insurance for the employees. All these savings will help raise the company’s profit margins with the added advantage of increased bonuses for the management.
Effective Team Meetings & Fewer Distractions
Admit it, one time or other, all of us went through the torture of attending the meetings not directly concerning us and agonizing about missing the deadlines. While working from home, you need to be more intentional about organizing meetings. You have to set the agendas beforehand so the desired outcome of the meeting is clear. This leads to highly effective and productive team meetings.
Better for the Environment
Remote working means less commuting and less administrative expenses that mean reduced energy use (ACs, lights, stationery) as well as fossil fuel consumption. This all leads to reduced pollution levels, a reduced carbon footprint, and a better environment.
Challenges of Remote Working
A lot of people enjoy remote work, but it poses several challenges too. Let us look at some remote working disadvantages below.
Remote working requires a proper setup. Any interruption like poor connectivity, power failure, and slow devices will affect productivity. Also, IT personnel cannot go to every staff member’s household for troubleshooting each and every technical issue. To counter this, staff members should be trained to resolve minor technical problems. For major problems, there is always the option of raising a ticket and visiting the technical helpdesk.
Remote working may cause distraction as people will be more relaxed without a supervisor watching over them. They may also get distracted by children, family members, or home-related work. This may have a direct impact on their productivity. The solution to this is to create a separate workspace and dedicate a fixed amount of time to office work. Ask your family members not to disturb you while you are working. You should concentrate only on your work at the time.
Lack of Communication & Collaboration
Working together, sitting next to each other during meetings, and going for breaks together generates a sense of camaraderie and team spirit. It leads to mutual understanding and efficient collaboration between team members.But in remote working, with virtual communication like emails and text messages, there are increased chances of miscommunication. Written communication without visual cues may lead to misunderstandings too. There is also a chance that the emails you send are going to spam hell and not even be read by the intended person.To counter this challenge, schedule regular team meetings through video conferencing tools like Zoom. As a manager, you can also organize monthly or quarterly in-person team outings. This will build trust and promote healthy communication.
Blurring Professional & Personal life
A major remote working disadvantage is the blurring of professional and private lives. This was already a grey area before remote working started due to the pandemic. Several people used to work on weekends and for extended periods either willingly or unwillingly. It was encouraged and considered a sure-shot way of getting that coveted promotion. Even now several employees face a difficult time setting boundaries. They fear that they will be left out and are available constantly even when their shifts are over. Over time this can drain them and cause exhaustion and breakdowns.
This challenge can be overcome by creating a healthy work culture where boundary setting is encouraged and respected. As a manager, you have to lead upfront and ensure no boundaries are violated. Your employees will feel safe and protected leading to better talent retention and a healthy working atmosphere.
Things to Consider Prior Creating Remote Working Policy
Remote working is here to stay and has become the “new normal”. Creating a remote working policy is necessary so that the employees and the management are on the same page and employees know what is expected of them. Here are a few things to consider before creating a remote working policy.
Work out which roles in your organization can be filled remotely. Some positions may have to be present in the office premises, so make that clear while formulating the policy. In a time of a crisis like the present-day pandemic, eligibilities may change. Make sure to add these contingencies into a business continuity plan and remote working policy.
Availability expectations should be clearly defined. Some employees may be allowed to create their schedules, but others need to be available for a fixed time every day. For e.g., an employee working with an offshore team must have the same schedule as the team they are attached to. These details should be put in the remote working policy for clarity.
Tools & Technology
The remote working policy should provide information about the equipment and devices need to carry out the work. Mention the type of devices and technical support the organization will provide or bear the cost of for remote working purposes.
The policy should mention what employees have to undertake to keep the company’s data safe. This may include prohibiting the use of public wi-fi, not sharing the official documents outside the organization, locking the devices when unattended and if your company uses VPN, then recommended process of using the VPN.
A remote working policy should include how productivity is going to be measured. It should state clearly the parameters like the number of sales, conversions, client interactions, average handling time, or the number of tasks completed.
The challenges of working from home must be taken into account when formulating a remote working policy. One of the biggest challenges is communication, as remote workers may feel isolated from their team members and struggle to maintain effective communication channels. The policy should, therefore, state clearly the mediums and channels through which team communications will take place. This may include emails, official WhatsApp groups, and video conferencing tools.Another challenge is managing the work-life balance of remote workers, as the lines between work and personal life can become blurred. The policy can include guidelines for establishing a healthy work-life balance, such as setting specific work hours and taking regular breaks.Additionally, remote workers may struggle with distractions and lack of motivation, which can impact their productivity. The policy can address these challenges by setting clear expectations for work output and providing tools and resources to support remote workers.
New World of Remote Working
Due to the current scenario, technological development, and employees preferences, it is clear that remote working has become essential. We have to understand its nuances, the changes we have to undertake, and the possibilities it brings. This new world of remote work no longer requires limitations of working time and geographical location. Emphasis is more on performance and collaboration. This new world requires a different kind of management that is focused on autonomy, information access, self-responsibility, and trust-based working relationships.
The benefits of working from home have been recognized for some time, but the COVID-19 pandemic and technological advancements have made it the favored way of working. Remote working provides numerous benefits, such as increased employee productivity, better work-life balance, and access to a wider talent pool. Additionally, it eliminates the need for employees to commute, saving valuable time and money.
However, remote working also presents some challenges, such as the need for proper communication and collaboration tools, the potential for isolation and burnout, and the need for effective management practices. Despite these challenges, remote working remains the preferred choice of the workforce, given the benefits it provides.
Overall, the benefits of working from home are clear, and businesses that adopt remote working policies stand to gain numerous advantages. Remote working provides increased flexibility, greater productivity, and access to a wider talent pool, among other benefits. As such, it is crucial for businesses to embrace this way of working and leverage it to their advantage.