Working From Home: Is it a Temporary Setup or a Long-Term Solution?
Remote work isn’t an entirely new concept. In recent years, it has become increasingly popular with the younger generation who prefer the freedom of freelance work over the stability of corporate jobs. However, recent events have abruptly thrown businesses across various industries into the setup—unprepared and ill-equipped for such a scenario.
If you’re new to leading a remote team, you’ll undoubtedly face new challenges. And with almost everyone else new to the work-from-home (WFH) setup, it can be even more daunting. However, these teething pains don’t necessarily mean that it can’t be a feasible work format. With the right tools and strategies, WFH can actually be an effective work mode alternative that you can include in your long-term business plan.
The pros of working from home
Some people have readily embraced the WFH setup for the convenience it offers. But aside from saving costs on transportation and being able to work without a dress code, it has plenty of other advantages. Among those are:
1. More work flexibility
WFH gives you more flexibility to make independent decisions and work with your own rhythm. This results in higher employee satisfaction and morale.
2. Improved focus
Unless you live in a noisy and crowded dorm, working from home means you have an entire room all to yourself. With no office distractions and interruptions from coworkers, you can focus better on your work and finish tasks much faster.
3. Better attendance and punctuality
No long commutes and no traffic jams mean fewer instances of tardiness and absenteeism. Even if you have errands to run or personal appointments to go to, you won’t have to completely miss work to accomplish them.
Access to a wider talent pool. You can build your team or enhance your existing one without worrying about location. Some individuals may be highly qualified but hindered by limitations such as disabilities or geographical location. Through remote work, you can include them in your team without restrictions.
4. Better collaboration
A WFH setting removes geographical boundaries and enables you to work with partners across states and all over the world. With the right tools and communication plans, you and your team can collaborate in real-time despite being in different time zones.
The cons of working from home
While working from home has a lot of advantages, it has its downsides too.
1. Costly equipment
You must invest in the proper equipment for your team. Unlike in the traditional workplace where employees can share some equipment, you’d need to provide them for each of your staff.
2. Risk of lower productivity
With remote work, people either over perform or become complacent. If you find it hard to switch off from work mode at home, you can become too stressed and suffer from burnout. You can also become too relaxed in the comfort of your home that you lose motivation to work efficiently. Either way, it can have potential negative impacts on productivity.
3. Plenty of distractions
At home, the line between family and work becomes blurred. There are no clear boundaries between personal time and work hours. You can easily get distracted by pets, kids, chores, television, and even neighborhood activity.
4. Social isolation
With no face-to-face interactions, it’s easy to feel alienated from society. You lose your sense of belonging and feel as if you’re not part of the team. If unaddressed, this can affect the employee turnover rate negatively.
5. Limited access to information
Among the greatest challenges that remote work poses is enabling access to information. In a WFH setting, you can’t simply walk to another person’s cubicle to ask for feedback or details on a current project.
Turning a temporary setup into a long-term solution
Now that you’ve weighed the pros and cons of working from home, you can make more informed decisions on whether to offer it as an alternative to your employees or not in the longer run. If you decide to do so, here are some points you need to consider:
1. Develop a digital work culture
It’s important to establish a company culture in a traditional workplace. Similarly, you must also develop a digital work culture for WFH setups. Although physically distant, ensure that everyone adopts the company vision and has a sense of belonging. It’s also essential to set clear boundaries and establish a structure for work.
2. Focus on employee experience
The abrupt shift to remote work can lead to anxiety. Employees may struggle with the new workflow, which can affect their performance. Make the transition smoother by providing them with the necessary tools and offering encouragement. Acknowledge individuality but maintain a standardized way of working to develop consistency.
3. Enhance communication and collaboration
Stay connected through daily check-ins, weekly meetings, or monthly socials. Maintain constant communication to monitor the team’s progress and each individual’s well-being. It is ideal to use a digital work platform that provides unified communication and contextual collaboration to do so.
4. Provide technology support to remote employees
Equip your team with the tools they would need to do their job. Leverage cloud technology to give them easy access to information. Use mobile apps for maintaining communication and providing feedback to team members.
5. Ensure productivity using digital tools
Use tools such as time trackers and task management applications to ensure productivity. A unified platform such as the Digital Workplace creates a single space where your employees can easily access all the data, systems, and tools that they need. It can enable effective collaboration, coordination, and project management.
Transforming your business for the future
Remote work may come with many challenges, but you can overcome these by learning new skills and imbibing a digital culture. With the right tools and proper mindset, you can unlock new possibilities and transform your business for the future.