It’s becoming clearer by the day: remote working is here to stay. At first thought of as a temporary quick fix to combat a virus, now the dining room table has become ‘the office’ for vast numbers of people. What is the reason for this global mind shift, and what are the implications for employers?
The world was ready for remote work
In what has now been recognised as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we see yet a further movement away from hands-on labour-intensive operations towards digital workspaces.
With almost uncanny timing, the final push has come from both within and without: the global pandemic has not only convinced employees of the need to work from home; it has forced employers to facilitate the process, rapidly. Overnight, governments, businesses and workers all became convinced of the need, and were in fact compelled, to adopt remote operations. And just for the sake of perspective – if the virus hadn’t forced matters, the sheer overtaxing of the planet to keep the wheels of business spinning was bound eventually to have caused a natural crash.
Add to that the fact that we have been preparing for this scenario over the past fifty years with the rise of first the computer and then the internet … and it’s almost inevitable that it would have come to fruition sooner or later.
Challenges of remote work for employers
Unsurprisingly, the sudden exodus of employees from the physical workplace has created both foreseen and unforeseen challenges for employers. These include expected issues such as communication difficulties and the simple need to have contact with others. It also includes technology needs; work prioritisation and project management; time management; productivity; maintaining company culture; staff evaluation in the absence of personal contact; maintaining security; and retaining a workforce that’s spread far and wide.
Fortunately, most of the tools for resolving these concerns were already available in some form or another. The situation has sparked an unprecedented flurry of new products and improvements in existing offerings, aimed at enabling and aiding online work.
For instance, personal meetings have become a distant memory for most – no longer are hours (and resources) wasted getting to and hanging around a common venue; the business of the day is quickly dispatched with using a host of different online communication apps. And you don’t even have to dress up for it!
Remote working will, for the most part, remain with us. It brings certain challenges, but there are solutions to these. We will be looking at the various issues over the next few months and discussing practical, workable answers to all.