We are in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Covid 19 pandemic brought a whole novel realization about our comfortable mundane yet somewhat organized world- of having a fixed schedule and going to a destination in order to support one’s personal lifestyle- when the big bold line that separated professional and personal life became so fine that it almost became hazy at a certain point. Emotional and physical ups and downs- much like the stock market became fairly unpredictable, yet had a certain level of thrill about it. However as humans we are social animals and have learnt to adapt to the toughest of situations and subconsciously believe that -brutally put- ‘that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’
‘Money makes the world go around’, money goes where money is, survival of the fittest, under the weather, through thick and thin, weren’t just idioms and phrases anymore. Every idiom felt relatable, somehow the ones that were adapted true to their meanings by the working class were more to the tune of ‘ takes two to tango’ & ‘the ball is in your court’ especially among the employers and their employees. Employees struggle to find their work-life balance amongst other issues like time management, communication, technology, consistency etc, much like their employers. So let’s talk about the Commonly faced- pandemic induced remote work challenges.
Much like any other relationship, the key to a good relationship is communication. This applies even for employers & employees and is not just limited to remote employees. Employers have to set the tone for communication between staff members. You can always choose to implement tools and processes out there in the market to facilitate improved communication, but still, they’ll only as good as the people who use them. A structured approach in the hiring and management process must be followed in order to ensure smooth productivity among the employees. Schedule flexibility and differences in time zones create problems with workflow. Therefore, flexibility in schedule and respect for personal space is needed so that employees are not overworked and are allowed to take sick leaves etc just as they would in an office environment.
Your office may provide state of the art equipment and software subscriptions with other tools required for tasks to be completed at the office space. Surely that’s big shoes to fill for a remote worker using their personal devices and means. This undoubtedly creates inconsistencies and causes issues when transferring information, and possibly slows down production. Therefore, it’s best to treat remote workers the same way you would if they were in the office and provide everything they need to get their job done.Your office may provide state of the art equipment and software subscriptions with other tools required for tasks to be completed at the office space. Surely that’s big shoes to fill for a remote worker using their personal devices and means. This undoubtedly creates inconsistencies and causes issues when transferring information, and possibly slows down production. Therefore, it’s best to treat remote workers the same way you would if they were in the office and provide everything they need to get their job done.
Confidential security breaches are a major concern. Keeping your organization’s sensitive and confidential information safe and secure throughout your organization, regardless of where your remote workers are actually doing the work – on a ‘workation’ or working from their basement- is the employer’s responsibility. You also need to ensure that your team is responsible for keeping their personal and corporate related information safe at all times. Education about the security concerns and training the employees about how they can best protect the data is found to be helpful. Create security policies for creating passwords, opening/clicking/replying to emails, uploading and downloading files from company servers, and anti-malware software. Help your team understand the risks and how to do their part to reduce them every day.
Consistency is as important as communication for healthy growth in a business. This is not just limited to remote staff. From the process of onboarding and training, employers must remain consistent and clear about their work culture, ethics, and the employer’s business goals. Remember the employees represent your brand, so it’s crucial for them to have a clear picture of what the mission and objective of what your brand represents. Include everyone in business objective discussions so that everyone understands where their job fits into the company and helps drive the strategy. Add logos, style guides, letterheads, and any other templates the team may need to use to cloud-storage that all team members can easily access.
Retention for remote workers is directly associated with inclusion. Remote employees are susceptible to feeling isolated and often experience fear of missing out. This weakens the connection with their fellow coworkers. Some may feel more pressure because they telecommute. This can feel overwhelming and some employees may feel the need to leave your company in favor of another that helps them feel more included and appreciated. Help your remote employees to connect to one another and bond through virtual conferences, awards, digital social activities, accolades etc. The more you make your remote workers feel appreciated, respected, and ultimately included, the more likely they will want to remain with your organization.
In summary, arm yourself and your employees/ staff/ team with all the tools needed for ultimate productivity. You have to do what’s best for your company or organization. If you’re just starting to work with a remote team, or you’ve had to reshuffle procedures due to the pandemic, it’s not all bad. In fact, there are many benefits of remote working for employers, too. Remember work may be at home, but work is not home.