According to a study by Gartner, 88% of organizations across the globe encouraged remote work or made it mandatory for their employees with the rise of the pandemic. Challenges like lack of proper infrastructure, resources, managing family and work, etc., were anticipated early on. However, as remote work became the new normal, new observations have come to the forefront. There has been a significant change in organizational perspectives about working from home. While new challenges have come to light, other myths have been debunked, which erstwhile made working from homeless attractive from an organizational perspective. Invariably, this new trend of remote work encourages organizations to bring about some changes in their work culture and policies to make the ecosystem more robust and effective.
Changing Perspectives of Remote Work: Top 3 Observations
- Inclusion, albeit virtually: To begin with, remote work enables new conversations and bonds to be created. While there are challenges of social isolation leading to social disconnect, forward-looking organizations are a step ahead. Those organizations that are routinely facilitating employee engagement activities and virtual meet-up sessions observe greater participation and attention to those who were earlier on the fringes of the organization’s social initiatives. Put simply, everyone gets the same space on the video call, and there is rarely an option of groupism and exclusion.
- Productivity on the rise: One of the major threats perceived by organizations was the drop in productivity due to remote work. To the contrary, for most organizations and professionals, productivity has seen an upward move. According to a study by ConnectSolutions, 77% of employees claim to be more productive when working from home. While this comes with a danger of overwork and burnout, forward-looking organizations are already supporting their employees with wellness programs and adequate time off for rejuvenation.
- Mental health at the workplace is a real thing: Another observation that had been neglected for a long time at the workplace was giving credit to mental health and wellness. With remote work, the home became the workplace, and boundaries of personal life and professional life went for a toss. Burnout, anxiety, impatience, etc., became common. As opposed to a calm experience of working from one’s bedroom, remote work became a scary nightmare for some. Fortunately, empathetic managers and healthy organizations quickly thought on their feet and conducted virtual wellness programs to reverse the mental health challenges.
Remote Work: The Way Ahead
These are but a few observations that significantly changed organizational perspectives about remote work. When organizations can resume operations from the office seems to be a question with no straightforward answer. While some organizations have already started on-ground services, others where remote work is an option are still playing it safe. Either way, organizations need to adapt their work culture and organizational policies and practices to adapt to the new normal. For instance, if remote work becomes the norm, what would it mean for the leave policy.
Additionally, organizations must invest in effective mentoring and coaching across all employee levels to help employees traverse the challenges of remote work. The idea is to dilute tightly held prejudices about remote work and embrace the positives that come out of these observations to create a culture that breeds professional growth and development in an ecosystem of positivity and warmth.