During mandatory quarantine caused by the spread of COVID-19, a lot of companies practice remote work. While some people try to work from home for the first time, others already stay for its benefits, having an experience and considering teleworking as a norm. Does work from home outstand its prediction? What boundaries does it set for employees and how to cope with challenges during such a prolonged quarantine?
Pros and cons of working remotely
Bloomberg’s research says the working day is 2 hours longer because people work from home. Employees try to organize and maintain productivity working from home in a sufficient way and take more responsibility for task execution. Thus, the productivity and effectiveness of results tend to be higher. According to the American Psychology Association, there is even an increase in job satisfaction during remote regimes. Primarily, it is connected with the benefits of remote work and the fact that more and more people start to discover them. Besides, companies begin regarding such an approach not as a privilege for their employees, but rather as a great opportunity for the whole company, that eventually makes employees feel more confident and trusted while doing job from home. Highlighting the most reported benefits of remote work:
- Flexibility and adjusting working hours
- Spending time with family
- Opportunity to work from home
- Saved time on commuting
What are the disadvantages of remote work? Among hurdles that regard necessary equipment and materials was named only having reliable WiFi. All other issues concern mental and psychological challenges such as:
- Difficulties with motivation and self-discipline to work from home
- Less communication and collaboration
- Loneliness and isolation
From company to company, the pros and cons of remote work vary, but the general picture shows that domain of software development is well-prepared to organize and sustain necessary level of performance during the quarantine. Even though companies support teams enthusiastically and do their best to provide all the necessary equipment for everybody’s convenience, there remains human weakness for daily socialization and longing for the life-bursting atmosphere at office. We surveyed our employees and below is how the Inoxoft team treats office work and what quarantine mandatory regime issues are mostly common.
Can work from home be productive?
Gallup, a research company based in Washington, addressed the goal to find out whether remote work is effective. The initiative was evoked by some citations that there’s no possibility to track employees’ effectiveness and that’s the problem. Once again the research claims that 54% of employees would leave their job for the one that offers remote opportunities. Finally, the team discovered that engagement climbs up, quality defects drop by 40% and profitability increases by 21% on condition employees work remotely.
How does remote work influence environmental changes?
The more important fact, remote work influences the environment that in our days should be a hot talk topic. In 2019, Gallup found that the average time spent on commuting ranges from 30 minutes to one hour. At Inoxoft we estimated that people save 40 minutes on commuting during the quarantine. Environmental impact is huge and most people aged 18-29 admit that pollution is a man-made threat to the planet. While people are staying at home, nature recreates, the air becomes pure and the environment restores to its normal unpolluted state.
How IT keeps other industries afloat
The pandemic poses a huge threat to the world’s economy. The price of standstill during quarantine can be very unsatisfying. The fine news is remote work makes it possible to maintain business and avoid total collapse. In a large part, remote work is a merit of rapid technology development and the contribution of software companies into making our lives convenient and easy. People got so accustomed to using digital tools in daily life that it became a normal thing. Nowadays technology is a hope that helps the majority of industries survive. We may not notice that, but discoveries and inventions of the IT domain improve the situation vastly and hold other domains alive not allowing them to come to a halt completely, but work remotely and benefit from that.
Domains that are the best at working remotely
Linguists and language-learning services take advantage of 68% work done remotely which is more than any other industry. According to report, some other industries that successfully implement remote policies are:
- Transportation sector – 61%
- Computer, information systems and mathematical sectors – 57%
- Entertainment, sport, arts and design – 48%
- Finance, insurance and real estate – 47%
- Law sector – 43%
- Social work – 43%
- Science and engineering – 41%
- Healthcare – 34%
However, a lot of workers across domains can not work remotely. Among them are representatives of food suppliers companies, agriculture and the public utility sector.
Digital tools to help teams collaborate virtually
It’s amazing how innovation and apps by world major software companies help in fighting against COVID-19. Digital tools that follow numerous companies and freelance workers are Slack, Asana, Jira, Trello, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Hangouts, Smartsheet, Discord for effective video conferencing, time and task management and team collaboration. Teams at Inoxoft also use virtual tools like draw.io, Google Jamboard and G Suite.
Noise generator for people to work at home in comfort
MyNoise created an interactive noise generator that allows controlling people’s background voices, air-conditioning volume, noises coming from the street, never-ending printer, clock or keyboard sounds. Its users share positive feedback on how the solution helps them work from home.
How to maintain employee’s motivation remotely?
70% of the population globally work remotely because of the continuing situation with the virus spread. Digital tools themselves do not solve the risks and challenges of remote work. There is always more context behind.
Managers are more alert during remote work. Noticing whether or not people get demotivated, sidetrack, distance from social communication – all this lies on managers’ shoulders.
Managers’ ability to tighten up collaboration with employees online and motivate them with their openness and curiosity enhances chances that remote work will be adored by everyone. Some tips can foster achievement and engagement of teams scattered across cities and countries:
- Acknowledging the other person’s feelings and showing trust
- Preserving natural communication style online
- Remembering the little things of great and positive effect on people’s mood
- Responsiveness and availability
- Setting clear and reasonable expectations
- Emphasize accomplishment and results, not tasks
- Explain before making decisions
- Tackle misunderstandings on the spot
How to manage remote work effectively?
Firstly, an important thing is the way departments, managers and CEOs inform employees on everything. It is crucial to make the transition to remote work smooth and show trust to employees. Use communication channels that your company is accustomed to and write in detail the company’s measures according to government regulations on quarantine, dates, equipment supply, project state, onboarding, and offboarding online methods.
Rich communication – this is a key to organize remote work successfully. We have a lot of preventative communication with managers and employees to prepare everybody and make things clear.
Secondly, the right communication helps to optimize the workflow, track performance and monitor results. If people react quickly and are in-tune, it is a strong factor that shows that teammates communicate very well, help and support each other generously.
Transition to remote work during an emergency entails more responsibility and awareness of each of us. Efforts and on-time engagement of every person individually, the ability to be responsive and think in advance matters no less in setting the company on effective rails of remote work.
Many organizations are opting for online management rules and methods that forge brighter connections. Some activities and tips that can help organize and monitor the work:
- Define working hours in team
- Let every teammate write at the beginning and the end of the working day
- Use Jira, Trello or other tools to track tasks
- Check tasks made earlier before the deadline
- Check tasks that are done, but were not planned
- Conduct morning or evening plannings to update estimates and communicate on progress
If you want to get the job done, you have to think more about daily home restraints as cooking, taking care of children, and equipping your working place. Home duties are time-consuming and practically impossible to avoid. For responsibilities not to make an impact on your career progress, set up time management rules, making a clear margin between working time and free time. Burning out at home is also a risk, so make sure you can maintain a healthy life-work balance.
How to maintain corporate culture?
Preserving corporate culture online can entail challenges, but there is always a bright side to look at. If the company puts enough effort, some new ideas, traditions may be born in an attempt to maintain a culture and a friendly atmosphere inside the teams.
We’ve started with surveys to know what advice our employees need, what they wish, how they treat remote activities. One more time we found out that common rituals and traditions unite. We now celebrate birthdays online, organize morning lunches, cooking quests, 5-minute plank challenges and evening yoga classes. We also launch webinars and CEO talks to share knowledge and IT news.
The work of the People operations department and the HR department is crucial for gathering feedback from people and taking necessary actions to match remote communication with the company’s culture, preserve strong interpersonal relations and help the company go along with strategy and values.
Keep positive mindset and offer mutual support
Sharing positive vibes in such a difficult time for the whole world is crucial. If your company or startup has a logo, try to split it by the example of widely known leaders as Audi or McDonald’s. It is a wonderful thing to do and maintain movement in the fight against COVID-19. Even such a little thing gives everybody the feeling of care and reminds us about pandemic rules: stay at home, isolate and wash your hands.
Will we all work remotely in the future?
Inclinations to work remotely are growing. Today we contemplate how freelance is becoming a rewarding world-scale practice. People indulge in remote work and find themselves comfortable. Nevertheless, changes also come as new generations come to the workplace. 46% of Millennials today choose to work remotely. Generation Z habits add value to the growth of remote work as well. Both generations appreciate flexibility, continuous learning and freedom. They are doing sports, exploring the vast majority of trends, launching their startups at an early age. New generations put a great accent on self-realization and healthy work-life balance and choose such a job that helps to avoid day-to-day tormenting at offices. Companies already consider it. So far, recruitment changes its approach to hiring people. More and more employees are retained only if they are offered flexible working hours and possibilities to learn and gain experience. That’s why the world should anticipate more and more remote workers in the future. Working from home is already a movement that can not be pulled back or left aside.