Is remote working here for good?
A shift toward remote working had already been taking place in recent years. Now, companies have significantly expanded those efforts with much of America’s workplace forced to work from home.
A Gartner survey of 317 CFOs on March 30 revealed that 74 percent intend to move at least five percent of their previously on-site workforce to permanent remote positions post-COVID 19, and nearly a quarter plan to transition at least 20 percent of their workers. The primary reason is to avoid more severe cuts amid COVID-19’s fallout.
For employees, the promised benefits of remote working include flexible schedules, eliminating commuting time and enhanced work/life balance. For employers, better working conditions can boost employee productivity.
Employees are also able to basically work from anywhere, and that also expands the recruiting pool for employers.
The leading struggle for employees working remotely, according to the “2019 State of Remote Report” from Buffer, is unplugging after work, cited by 22 percent. That was followed by loneliness, 19 percent; collaborating and/or communication, 17 percent; and distractions from home, 10 percent; being in a different time-zone than teammates, eight percent; and staying motivated, eight percent.
The current forced remote working situation is providing insights into how many corporate functions can work remotely, including whether senior management can lead without one-one-one or group in-person meetings.
Tech challenges include extending hardware compatibility to homes and related security issues.
A recent article from MIT Sloan School of Management found organizations employing remote workforces face three challenges: low-bandwidth communication, unnecessary meetings and loss of passive knowledge sharing.
The business school said companies can compensate for the loss of face-to-face communication thanks to more advanced video meeting technology. Remote team members can offset the tendency to schedule more meetings by adopting catchphrases like “No meetings without an agenda” and “Could this meeting have been an email?”
Workers can use virtual happy hours and coffee breaks to replace the loss of informal information sharing and open communication lines facilitated within shared physical spaces. MIT Sloan wrote, “These unstructured conversations can reveal experiences and ideas that otherwise would have remained unexpressed — and keep team members connected on a personal level.”
- Gartner CFO Survey Reveals 74% Intend to Shift Some Employees to Remote Work Permanently – Gartner
- Overcoming Remote Work Challenges – MIT Sloan Management Review
- A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful Than an Email – Harvard Business Review
- Is Working From Home The Future Of Work? – Forbes
- How Effective Is Telecommuting? Assessing the Status of Our Scientific Findings – Sage Journals
- State Of Remote Work – Buffer
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect a major shift to remote working as a result of COVID-19? How will this affect retailing and consumer brand organizations?