With no definitive end in sight to COVID-19, many businesses are developing or implementing work-from-home policies to ensure business continuity.
If employees and employers can get the balance right and enjoy the benefits of well-planned telework/work from home arrangements, this could prove to be the tipping point for these arrangements to become the norm in a lot of workplaces.
- Whilst remote working is relatively common globally, here in Australia, we’ve been a little slower to adopt this.
- As a result of the pandemic, many employees are now working remotely full-time for the first time, and many managers are unaccustomed to leading such a workforce.
- Here in Australia, many employers don’t offer flexible/remote working options.
- This could indicate that while many employers are beginning to understand the benefits remote working can bring, they haven’t yet reached the requisite level of confidence to introduce and communicate a formal policy.
The Benefits of Remote Working
There are numerous benefits, including:
- cost savings – overheads
- increased productivity (less distractions and greater ability to focus)
- better work-life balance
- reduced stress
- improved workplace morale
- fewer sick days
- reduced employee turnover
- attraction of talent to your business
- working from home usually means employees have greater autonomy over how they do their work, including the hours and conditions of their work, and how they manage their lives and other responsibilities
The Potential Drawbacks
Whilst there are lots of benefits, there can be some challenges associated with working from home that businesses and individuals often do not plan well for. These include:
- Studies have shown working from home for extended periods can leave employees feeling socially and professionally isolated.
- There are fewer opportunities to interact and acquire information, which may explain why remote workers can feel less confident than their office-based counterparts.
- Employees who work from home have also perceived negative consequences for their career. Out of sight can sometimes be out of mind.
- Another significant issue is maintaining boundaries with home life. It can be hard to switch off, particularly when we don’t have a dedicated home office.
The Opportunity for Businesses
With the rise in digital capability, businesses experiencing productivity gains and reduced operating costs, to employees experiencing a series of work-life related benefits, there’s no doubt remote working has a place in modern workplace culture.
So, what are some tips to try and make this successfully work for your business?
Please note: Whilst schools are still partially open/closed, employers will need to be sensitive to the challenges employees face working from home with children to care for and online schooling to manage..
- Get the right policies in place – Working From Home, Flexible Working, etc
- Look at the roles in your business that only require an internet connection and a telephone line.
- You will need to strategically invest in the right technologies.
- You may need a mindset shift – let go of traditional work practices and thinking of how to manage and instead, focus on the outputs that will be required.
- You need a healthy level of trust between employer and employee.
- Regular communication, particularly using video conferencing, can help ensure tasks are coordinated, knowledge is transferred, and social and professional isolation is reduced.
- Establish boundaries between work and home life with your employees- being able to switch off at the end of the day is important for both yours and their physical and mental health.