If there is a question about the difference between the professional environment of the past and the present, then the answer is the internet and remote working style. The transformation to working from anywhere has been around even before the internet era. However, what is happening today in terms of our working environment and style is completely different from what our parents experienced in the past.
The familiarization of remote working has been accelerated in recent years, especially during the pandemic time white physical interactions were strictly regulated to slow down the disease’s spread. Many industries now see remote working as a more viable option due to lower operational costs and higher productivity. Meanwhile, remote working also benefits employees who often experience commuting stress that can lower their productivity. This modern solution for companies and employees is still being debated, despite the positive benefits it brings.
Why should remote working styles be a concern for both employers and employees?
At first, remote working was believed to be an effective scheme that provides greater flexibility for employees. With this flexibility, they are expected to perform better as the stress of constant commuting and conflicts in the office can be avoided. Employees can also organize their schedules to suit their liking without having to worry about the external pressures that often occur in the workplace.
However, as many spoke up about their experience in remote employment, several backfires are equally challenging and also dangerous for both parties if not managed properly. These downsides can be detrimental to the people involved, despite the flexibility and spare time that employees can spend with their families. This detrimental effect on isolation and work-life balance is something that is commonly faced and needs to be addressed immediately.
In some cases, the thin line between professional and personal life has created a work-life imbalance. Failure in time management has led to burnout when employees are unable to let go of their professional duties during off-hours. Exhaustion from working too hard is the simplest symptom that can jeopardize their mental health. In addition, problems in personal life, especially for those with families, often arise when employees work more than they spend time with their families.
In just a few years after it becomes a global culture, a study found that remote working is not a modern solution with flying colors. The study suggests that remote employment will become a tangible problem related to workers’ performance and career growth. Limited exposure to professional networking and socializing can make them miss out on potential opportunities that could help them grow their career.
In addition, other issues such as the feeling of belonging and the relationship between workers and the company can reduce their motivation and enthusiasm in carrying out their work. Limited face-to-face interaction, lower bonuses and benefits, and poor human resource management add to the pressure, making employees less loyal to the company. This condition worsens when miscommunication occurs more frequently due to the absence of support systems that can help better communication between employees and companies.
If this continues without any real solution, then it will lead to unfavorable conditions for both workers and companies that only rely on this kind of work scheme going forward.
What should companies and workers do to overcome the limitations of remote employment?
As many have realized, these problems can be mitigated or even turned into benefits with proper planning and management. Several solutions aimed at remote employees are often presented regarding the problems they often face. However, it should be emphasized that these problems cannot be solved by the workers themselves without the support system provided by the company implementing the remote work style.
However, we are happy to re-share the essential remote working tips for workers.
- Finding and establishing a functional work environment.
The very first and the most common difficulty in working from home or any type of remote working is to get focused and comfortable. To get these feelings, you should build your own office that resembles the traditional office set-up in your remote working space.
In many cases, distraction is the enemy that hinders them to carry out the job. The distraction from other family members or another situation that make you not comfortable can be solved only with a designated workplace. Make sure that the place is ergonomic and suitable for working while also free from noise and interruptions.
Only when you have your working space, either in your home or another place that you think is functional, you can manage the distraction and get more productive with better focus. Then, you can set a ground rule for you and your family like limiting the house interaction and avoiding house chores during working hours. You should create a support system in your house together with your family. Thus they can help you to stay focused during working and remind you to stop when your workday ends. By doing these, you can maintain a work-life balance and prevent burnout.
According to some experts, dressing properly, even if it’s in the house, also helps you to focus. Wear the most comfortable clothes that you never wear for sleeping or slacking off at home. This will keep your mind that you are in work mode.
By all means, you should stick to your routine and consider taking regular breaks when it is necessary. Think about the times you can work effectively and determine the length of your working hours. You should communicate with your employer regarding this and also inform them of your reasons. It is about finding a win-win solution that will give them the understanding to adjust the expectations of both parties.
- Keeping the interaction with co-workers and employer
Several characteristics of remote work distinguish one from another and each industry may adhere to a certain rule that may not be effective in another industry. However, keeping up with your coworkers is common knowledge in remote working tips suggested by many experts. Keeping in touch with clients, bosses, and coworkers will help you recover from a sense of isolation.
There are many options that you can take to stay connected with your coworkers such as video conferencing, group chats, online collaboration tools, project management software, and email. In some circumstances, such as in the mid of an ongoing project, overcommunicating is very necessary to maintain teamwork. While it saves you from feeling isolated, intensive communication is also very important to consolidate understanding among coworkers and prevent unnecessary miscommunication and conflict.
In addition, in a remote work environment, the lack of gestures and eye contact makes it difficult to understand each other. This condition is often overlooked meanwhile it can create a serious impact on team progress and productivity. When you are involved in a remote team, do not hesitate to speak up and be more proactive regarding your difficulties and obstruction more often with your key colleagues.
Last but not least, you should be honest about your timeline and progress. Please note, you can set this alone since your employer pays you in return for your service. Keeping your colleagues with your progress and update will help them to consolidate with the entire team or clients. If the manager or team leader is too pushy with you, then you need to clear the air and set another expectation about your work promptly.
In recent years, many employers have realized that organizing some people to work from home requires a special approach to make everything run smoothly. Therefore, the following points are very important for employers to invest, or need to be requested by workers when they decide to work from home.
- Help employees to establish a dedicated home workspace.
In the traditional office style, companies have to spend a lot of money to set up a proper office and make everyone comfortable working there. Whereas with the remote work style, companies can compensate employees for the costs required to build an office. However, this only applies to the employee’s position and role in the company. Helping them with their most basic needs will help them feel bonded and connected which often has a positive impact on the company’s progress.
However, in a general situation, this would not necessarily mean that the company or employer should bear all the costs of establishing an office in their employee’s home. Many options can increase the sense of care such as helping to set up a home office, facilitating workers with office inventory, or providing technical support that can help employees perform better.
There are also tons of online collaboration tool options available to ease the employees’ duties. File management centers, task management tools, group calendars, online project management, and many types of video conferencing can help everything run smoothly. In addition, basic office software and related field software are basic tools that companies should provide to help workers feel valued and cared for.
- Promoting more intensive communication and consolidation
When the ideal workplace is set up, workers usually need clear guidance on how to handle work remotely. Most companies are ready with all the support, but some are still considering the urgency and running things without direction. In many cases, companies seem to have full control over what their workers have to do. Some of them also provide less flexible working hours and more workloads with the assumption that they can work whenever they want. Tracking devices are installed to record anything from workers’ gadgets as this creates an unpleasant feeling of being watched.
If it happens like so, the prompt remedy is to promote overcommunication among workers and superiors. Creating bounding and the feeling of trust among workers are more human solutions every company should attempt.
As for workers, intensive communication between employees and employers, superiors and subordinates, or between clients and providers are key in remote working schemes. Communication does not always have to be about work and responsibilities, but it can be outside of that and done casually inside and outside of working hours to maintain relationships and togetherness among people in the company. Moreover, promoting informal group discussions will also be beneficial to help them deal with isolated feelings in the remote employment scheme.
Both employers and employees want remote working to be effective and enjoyable. By considering the above factors, they can succeed together and develop in the right direction that is mutually beneficial.