The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way people live around the globe. This year has brought many challenges. Yet, the world expects to see positive change as a result. The situation has reshaped the way of thinking but also the way of working. It has given rise to the remote working style, showing not only that it is possible to take the work home, but that it is necessary.
Giants in the business world, such as Google and Facebook, have announced that their employees will be at home until the end of the year. Twitter is looking to offer remote working options from now on. One of the largest music communities, Spotify, moved 4000 people team to work from home until the end of the year. According to BBC, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has told his employees that they will be “aggressively opening up remote hiring” starting this month. Moreover, he expects over half of the company’s staff to be working from home in the next five to ten years.
”The past few months have proven we can make that work. So, if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.”
Not only that employees support the novelty. It’s becoming a priority, however. Ninety-nine percent of those surveyed told Buffer that they wanted to experience remote working style at least once in their lifetime. The Zapier.com report from 2019 reveals that 74% would change their job for one offering remote work.
The table below gives a brief overview of the benefits and challenges of remote working arrangement.
The companies that adopt remote working are saving a lot in terms of cost. Forbes has calculated that a company saves an average of $11,000 a year or achieves 21% higher profitability in a part-time remote organization. With remote working arrangement, companies could reduce the office space or close the office completely, thereby achieving savings from office rental. Remote work also eliminates geographical constraints, enabling businesses to hire talent from countries with comparatively lower wages.
Remote working offers flexibility in the employee pool. Companies would no longer rely solely on their city ‘s workforce, as they would be able to attract talent globally. Moreover, this also eliminates the need for any Visa application and administrative works related to an expatriate settlement.
What are the challenges companies might face?
Challenge No.1- Lack of visibility
With companies starting to have employees working from home, executives and managers were surprised to learn that they had lost the visibility of their employees – how do we know if our employees are working and compensate for this with more meetings? When the team is out of sight, what are the ways to measure their contributions? These questions put a great deal of pressure on managers. With lost visibility, managers lost track of staff’s activities, resulting in possible decline in business effectiveness. On the other hand, employees are unsure as to how they will be assessed and recognized for their work when they are off-site. Remote employees are more concerned about the possible issue of Employee Appraisal Bias.
In addition to losing out on opportunities, some remote employees worried that their unrecognized contributions could result in lower performance evaluations.
– MIT Sloan
To overcome this challenge, companies could consider profiling the different job roles and setting up the appropriate KPI (Key Performance Indicator) and deploying a reliable system to collect the data that measure their performance.
Challenge No.2- Communication
The effectiveness of communication, both in and out of office, is what largely aids success. There is no doubt that it’s harder to achieve it remotely. When the Buffer found communication as the main challenge of the new working style, Frank Weishaupt, the CEO of Owl Labs, said:
“The challenges remain the same: ineffective communication. As an employer, it’s critical to maintain a community for all workers despite their physical location, and require manager training specific to remote workers as well as provide the latest technological advancements in digital collaboration tools across the organization.”
We need such technological innovations to solve the problem of both internal and external communication within the company when we work off-site. The help of instant chat applications has closed up the gap in internal communication. In the remote work setup, reaching to external parties is particularly challenging, as it requires a system convenient for both employees and clients or suppliers.
One case is the limitation of access to the office number from the employee’s home or remote location. Taking the account receivable clerk as an example, she/he has to make phone calls. They call clients and check on payments. It’s not convenient to perform the task using their private phone, nor the company’s mobile phone, due to the rising cost issue. To solve it, companies should install a system that allows them to access the company’s phone remotely, from any device.
Challenge No.3- Collaboration
Teamwork is highly ranked on the Buffers list of challenges faced when working from home. Companies that have not used modern collaboration tools before have felt setbacks when forced to work remotely. They have lost the collaborative capacity that exists in physical contact.
For example, the Whiteboard, as the traditional collaboration tool, should be substituted for its digital version. In the online format, it offers maximum space for active participation, regardless of the team’s location.
Challenge No.4- Data Security
When employees are at home, probably on their own devices, we may wonder: “How can we be assured that company’s data will not leak?”. Outside of the office walls, staff may feel more comfortable, thus prone to manipulating with information, on purpose, or by accident. The study conducted by Apricorn has found that 30% of organizations that need to stay GDPR-compliant believe remote work could harm them. While the use of company-issued devices might decrease the risk of exposure, it is not the most effective solution. Having a system providing preventive measurement before any data leakage would assure maximum comfort for remote working.
Why should companies do it NOW?
As the global talent market becomes more competitive, companies that have not offered remote employment policies would lose in the search for high-performance employees. Ana Recio, the executive vice president of global recruiting at Salesforce, has told The New York Times:
“They have proven the model that you don’t need to be in the office 9 to 5 to be effective.” She explained that “This generation is single-handedly paving the way for the entire workforce to do their jobs remotely and flexibly.”
With the shift in perception brought by digitalization and restricted conditions, highly competent individuals no longer desire to work 9 to 5, even at the local level. Companies that continue to take the “wait and see” approach would eventually lose out in the battle for great talent, especially if they are in some niche industry. Taking the first step towards enabling remote work arrangements puts you ahead of your competitors in recruiting the best talent.
Companies that have made it possible to operate remotely would soon have a competitive advantage over their competitors. Cost savings by enabling remote work arrangements enable companies to channel these savings to their marketing budget or further reduce the price of their services or products; while others should increase their R&D budget and produce higher quality products.
Employers looking to attract and retain the best talent, inspire people to do their best work, and foster a culture of collaboration and productivity must work to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding their workforce’s shifting expectations and how to fulfill them.”
Beite helps businesses digitally transform their business to incorporate remote employment policies through professional consulting, and a comprehensive solution that addresses productivity concerns, work efficiency, cybersecurity, data leak risk, and user support availability to create a flexible and secure remote working environment.