Article | August 11, 2020
The COVID-19 workplace brings more reasons to consider the high costs of disengagement and how data can help your employees thrive.
COVID-19 has added significant new pressures on the workforce. Safety and quarantine measures necessitated by the pandemic bring extra burdens (not to mention fears) on employees working in-person/frontline jobs. Others who made the sudden shift to working completely virtual- or home-based face new ways of working, increasing isolation and for some, added stress managing child-care and family demands.
Article | November 12, 2020
The concept of remote work has been an alluring one in modern workspaces. A quick search on Google Trends shows that terms like remote work, work from home, and telecommute have steadily gained more interest from early 2000s and peaked during the height of the pandemic in March 2020.
The rising popularity of remote work has made employees take note too. As working from office became impossible in early 2020, over 90% of global businesses moved base and switched to remote mode. But is it only a solution for the pandemic or are there other benefits of working from home that you need to consider even after the pandemic has left the society? Before that is explored, take a look at where it started.
A History of Remote Work
Believe it or not, remote work is the default state in which humans worked before the industrial revolution. Only few people like ministers, clergymen, and royals would go to a separate place of work. Others like the potters, blacksmiths, jewellers, and cobblers worked outside their houses all day and knew the benefits of WFH.
As the industrial revolution took place, factories and industries were set up. And people started ‘going to work’. This was a big shift from the traditional money-making practices. As modern offices started showing up in the ‘60s, people became more acquainted to the ‘offices’ as we know them today. But still, the biggest game-changer was the invention of internet.
As technology developed with the help of internet, services like WiFi became widely available and allowed people to work from anywhere with the new found connectivity. The preference for remote work grew slowly and steadily as people started seeing the benefits of WFH, but remote work was catapulted into fast drive as the pandemic hit the world this year in 2020.
Benefits of WFH for Employees
Working from home is one of the most appreciated perks at a job as per a survey conducted by Fractl. There’s no doubt that employees covet the idea of remote work but it is not just a matter of convenience. According to a recent study by Stanford, there are also various benefits of working from home for the employees.
Higher Job Satisfaction
The best thing about working from home is that remote work offers a lot of flexibility to your employees, which is impossible to achieve when working from office. Employees are responsible for their own productivity, they aren’t worried about their superiors watching over their shoulders, and most importantly, they still have time to have a life outside of work. All of this adds up and results in higher job satisfaction among employees. A satisfied workforce is one of the strongest benefits of WFH.
Commuting takes a big chunk out of people’s expenses. Even if your employees use public transport, working from home will save them a significant amount of money. Among other benefits of WFH, as there is no need to step out every day, expenses on food, clothing, cosmetics, etc. will also reduce significantly. Fewer expenses mean more disposable income for your employees, and who doesn’t want that?
Better Work-life Balance
Working from a place of convenience allows you to take care of a lot of small things that you wouldn’t be able to do in an office. For example, taking care of a child while working, preparing a healthy meal, getting in a quick workout in the break time or even just closing your eyes and enjoying music for five minutes are all great benefits of WFH. The WFH experience offers a good worklife balance than otherwise.
As employees save a ton of time on commute, meetings, and even obligatory niceties, all the time that they put into work is now productive. According to a Flexjobs survey, 65% of the respondents mentioned that they’re more productive in a remote environment over an office one and see it as one of the primary benefits of working from home. Moreover, time dedicated to work, is solely utilized for work as employees feel more responsible for their performance when working from home.
Lower Stress Levels
Many studies have found that working from home can impact stress levels positively and reduce them. Experts believe that the reason for this may be associated with working in a familiar and comfortable environment. Benefits of WFH like lower stress levels affect efficiency and creativity at work. A laid-back employee will be able to offer a lot more than a stressed one.
Benefits of a WFH Policy for Employers
So yes, a WFH policy is great for the employees and is widely preferred. But what’s in it for you? With the exception of government mandated remote working, why should you offer WFH? This employer’s guide may help explain the details.
The truth is that there are just as many, if not more, benefits of working from home for the employers. Remote work, even if partial, can give you a big edge when it comes to productivity, competition, as well as employee retention. So what are these benefits of WFH?
Space Optimization and Cost-savings
As many companies have noticed, expenses have gone down significantly during the pandemic. The cost of office spaces is one of the obvious ones. But there are utilities, snacks, stationery, toiletries, cleaning supplies and a lot more that you save on when you offer a WFH policy. IBM alone has reportedly saved over $100 million in snacks since they started their WFH policy.
This is not the only benefit of WFH, partial WFH can help you optimize your office spaces and let you use techniques like hot desking that’ll help you reduce costs as well as let you use office space efficiently.
With all these feel-good effects and several other benefits of WFH, it is no wonder that employees stay longer with organizations that offer remote working opportunities, even partly. According to Global Analytics Workforce, over 72% of employers stated in a survey that remote working opportunities greatly impact employee retention. And it is no secret that the longer an employee stays with a company; the more loyal they are to it.
One of the biggest benefits of a WFH policy is that you get to pick your team from across the world. There are no location specific restrictions and you can hire the best members for your team without having to compromise too much on your budget.
Progressively more companies are now open to hire for completely remote positions from across the world as they see this as an opportunity to improve the quality and diversity of their teams.
There are several surveys and studies, including institutions like Harvard, which have found that remote work improves productivity in employees. There can be several reasons for the improved productivity such as fewer distractions, little or no commute, and comfortable environment. But whatever may be the reason, if you want to switch the gears on your operations, you may want to consider the benefits of WFH on productivity.
Absenteeism is a big problem when it comes to working in a team, especially if the project requires multiple collaborations. A large amount of absenteeism is tied up to logistical or minor issues such as vehicular breakdown, sudden change in childcare routine, or a minor sickness.
As all of this can be easily averted when working from home, employees prefer not to take leaves for minor issues. When working remotely, there are fewer logistical errors, household responsibilities can be tended to simultaneously, and minor illnesses don’t bother them too much in a comfortable environment. This leads to a more planned workday, and higher availability of employees which all adds up to the several benefits of WFH.
Longer Working Hours
At this point, it might seem like a stretch that there are so many benefits of WFH. But studies have shown that when employees work from home, they put in extra hours. It could be the result of KPIs switching from punctuality to results. But whatever the reason, employees are willing to put in more effort and longer days when given the chance to work remotely.
Several companies like Twitter and IBM have made headlines with their lenient WFH policies. IBM has been offering remote working opportunities for years now, and Twitter recently announced that it will allow its employees to work from home as long as they want even after the pandemic has subsided.
Just a minor change in the policy has earned Twitter a ton of goodwill, and no doubt the preference of potential employees. That’s how powerful remote work can be as a tool. A good WFH policy can bring you good PR as well as great candidates for future positions.
Better for the Planet
Business operations aren’t just costly, they are also a big source of carbon emissions. From the daily commute of all your employees, to the electricity consumed and toilet paper used, your office has a deep impact on the planet. In fact, the highest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.
When you switch to a remote mode, you lower the emissions for your organization by a considerable amount. It may be a small percentage globally, but every drop in the bucket counts and is an added benefit of WFH that you can use by adding this to your branding.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the pros and cons of working from home?
No hiring restrictions
Feelings of disconnect
Very little contact with co-workers
Why is work from home good?
There are several benefits of working from home including a better work-life balance, improved performance, lower stress levels, and higher efficiency.
How does working from home benefit a company?
Organizations see a big improvement in employee relations as employees are happier, more satisfied, and more efficient when working from home. Another benefit of working from home for the company is the reduced costs.
Article | July 14, 2020
Given the current state of social unrest, organizational leaders are being forced to acknowledge the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. DEI initiatives are critical to building a strong, innovative workforce where employees feel engaged in and supported to do their best work. And yet, despite high levels of awareness, companies continue to report that they do not feel their DEI training efforts are achieving the desired outcomes.
Article | November 16, 2020
As work was catapulted into the remote mode in early 2020, organizations struggled to keep up and stay afloat. As the nature of the work itself changed in many organizations, we saw some of the best leaders step up and take charge. Dealing with a dynamic workforce is challenging but remote workforce management comes with bigger challenges that cannot be comprehended entirely until one gets into the thick of it. Take a look at this employer’s guide to work from home policy.
A big part of keeping a business afloat is responding to the changes in the market, and COVID-19 was an unprecedented anomaly in the economy that hadn’t been observed by the modern world until now. And while the economy has remained shaky since COVID-19 hit, many businesses have evolved in this period to not only survive but actively make the best of this situation.
Media 7 talked to the experts in various industries to understand how they managed their workforce during this time of crisis and noticed a recurring pattern. Three big aspects of remote workspace management came through these interviews – Leadership, Communication, and Flexibility.
One of the key requirements for remote workforce management in any adverse situation is strong leadership. Without leadership, the team lacks direction and support. Leaders instill confidence within the employees that helps the organization weather the storm. And while COVID-19 has offered a unique set of issues, leadership tactics in such a time of crisis still remain similar.
Thankfully, the world is connected digitally today, so businesses can still function. But with the pandemic, uncertainty has seeped in and employee morale has taken a hit. SharpEnd has been trying to make an effort to address this specific issue in remote workforce management with their leadership team.
“One of the main things our leadership team is focusing on is mastering remote management and leadership. How do you keep the team motivated? How do you make sure everyone is feeling included? What are you doing on a weekly basis to make sure that it’s not just professional, but there are social elements as well? We’re being very respectful of the fact this is a lockdown from the greater world and not just from the office.”
Cameron Worth, CEO & Founder - SharpEnd
One of the key tenets of remote workforce management is relying on your employees. Your employees are the single most important resource of your organization, and they need to be treated in an appropriate manner. For most organizations, working remotely hasn’t even been an issue, but the pandemic has affected the company culture and the social element. LoadSpring has come up with ways to counter just that.
“To LoadSpring our employees are number 1. They are the drivers to our success therefore their safety is our key priority. We have had a work from home policy for years so 100% of our team had the technology to work from home for years. The transition to 100% work from home was easy. What is hard is keeping the culture, our culture, from falling away when people do not have an office space to come to and share. We already had tech, like video conferencing, to keep connected but now we use it more and make people turn on their cameras so we can still see each others' body language which makes people feel more connected. Also we initiated a video conference happy hour for our teams so we can all feel connected in a personal way. This was a game-changer.”
Stacey Witt, Chief Marketing Officer – LoadSpring
When crises like COVID-19 occur, uncertainty and doubt foster feelings of stress and anxiety. In such times, people crave structure, guidance, transparency, and order. This is applicable even in a business environment, especially in the case of remote workforce management. In a landscape scale event such as this, strong communication can offer a direction to your workforce and foster growth. Lane4 Management Group identified the role of communication in times of crisis and stepped up their efforts.
“I’ve always believed that effective communication is key to a successful organization and I’ve managed to maintain this with people in my team during the pandemic. However, this does mean I find myself on Microsoft Teams for a lot of hours during the week. What this situation has made me notice is that operating remotely can still be highly effective given the number of digital tools we have available now. Although I still maintain that nothing beats a face-to-face conversation over a coffee!”
Adrian Moorhouse, Managing Director - Lane4 Management Group
Some organizations have also been able to use this shift in communication channels and leverage it to enhance their remote workforce management through it. ENGAGE is one of the many organizations that has embraced the new normal and made optimum use of the technology to stay in touch.
“The focus of our work and the way we deliver it has had to shift significantly. For example, whereas much of our leadership coaching work used to be delivered in-person at clients’ offices, we are now doing all of our coaching remotely (via Zoom, Teams, WebEx, BlueJeans, etc.). This has been a seamless transition – both for us and for our clients – which opens up new opportunities for the future, even when we return to some form of normal.
Our own internal teamwork has shifted solely onto Microsoft Teams – we have short, 30-minute meetings each morning (“What’s coming up / who needs help?”) and evening (“How’s today been/ how are people feeling?”)
Luckily, the availability of so many collaboration tools, and the agility of both our own team and those of our clients to adopt these, has made the situation much more manageable than we could have predicted.”
Andy Brown, Chief Executive Officer - ENGAGE
As for organizations that lead with technology, the switch has caused no major upheaval. According to Phillipe Guiheneuc of Akio, their teams have seamlessly transitioned to teleworking as they were already equipped with the infrastructure and the experience to undertake effective remote workforce management.
“As an IT company, Akio is well equipped for teleworking - some of the teams were already doing it long before the coronavirus crisis. Because we work in the field of customer relations, we regularly manage sensitive periods with our customers, for instance when they face peak inactivity. The period of lockdown and the lifting of lockdown have therefore not caused any major upheaval in our business. For example, Akio has not had to use the administrative unemployment scheme; on the contrary, we seek at all times to increase the production capacity of the teams.
This is particularly true of the teams of IT developers, because they are organized in Agile mode, a work organization that easily adapts to remote working”
Philippe Guiheneuc is the Marketing Director - Akio
Flexibility is often talked about in respect to work timings and shifts. However, COVID-19 has changed the nature of this discourse and ushered in new aspects to remote workforce management such as location independent work and result-oriented practices. The organizations that have practiced flexibility since before the pandemic have been rewarded with a higher adaptability to crisis and changing cycles. Pricefx is one such organization that has leveraged their flexibility amidst the pandemic to execute sales cycles in a unique manner.
“Pricefx is a flexible work environment. Before the pandemic, we allowed employees to work in their home office or come to our office (whichever they prefer), and flexible working hours to balance work and life. The global pandemic forced us to reduce our global team travel to zero, and to lean in on how to execute virtual sales cycles and implementation cycles in a way we had not before.”
Patrick Moorhead, CMO - Pricefx
Schneider Electric is another organization that benefited from a flexible work policy in terms of remote workforce management. Their Director of Global Procurement Strategy, Sri Gopinath has had to change his global interactions from in-person to virtual meets, but even while working with several time zones, he has managed to stay on top of everything.
“Our people are already used to working in flexible environments; therefore, the pandemic was not a big shock when we were required to work from home if our role permitted us to do so. My role is global, which needed frequent travel prior to the crisis. I have maintained my global scope and interactions while working from home considering that I work with all time zones, which can get quite challenging when we are trying to work together or meet at a mutually convenient time.”
Sri Gopinath, Director of Global Procurement Strategy - Schneider Electric
Remote workforce management is one of the most important skills for business leadership today. Even as the world is slowly working its way out of pandemic-related adversities, it is clear that remote work is here to stay. Now, the onus of adapting is upon businesses and leaders, to step up and offer the right direction, clear communication, and the required flexibility to their employees in order to thrive when working remotely.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a remote workforce?
A remote workforce is a team of people working together virtually from various locations. Remote workforces are efficient and cost effective for an organization.
How do you effectively manage a remote team?
In order to manage a remote team effectively, one needs to have clear and specific communication channels that offer direction as well guidance.
How to manage a remote team?
There are several ways to motivate employees in a remote mode:
Plan virtual activities
Conduct webinars for upskilling
Encourage transparency in communication
Communicate expectations clearly