Business

Profound Effects of Long-Term Remote Work: 2020 and Beyond

2020 has seen the world migrate to large-scale work-from-anywhere set up. A survey suggests that about 16% of workers will continue working from home after the pandemic recedes.

The benefits of telecommuting to remote workers are well documented, and range from increased flexibility to availing more ergonomic comforts resulting from being well-rested. But remote work is beneficial to businesses too, particularly from a cost and planning perspective. The year is coming to an end, but the effects of remote work are here to stay, and are applicable in the years to come.

1. Less productivity loss

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77% of remote workers are reportedly more productive and consider flexible work arrangements as the new normal. In fact, workers are having to deal with only 12% of distractions as opposed to 53% of workers who claim to find background noises at work far more distracting. With all this in mind, it is conclusive that remote work arrangements help a distributed workforce get more done.

What helps here is that employers still have means to monitor what their workforce is upto, with the help of remote monitoring and time tracking software. Such tools can detect idle-time, nudge workers to get back on track and automatically time breaks so that only the actual work hours are reflected in time reports.

2. Improved communication

Managers are now leading teams whose members are a mix of workers they interacted with offline, as well as those who have been onboarded into the team remotely. As a result, they’re improvising how often and with whom they communicate. The usage of digital collaboration tools have risen by 142%, prompted by the need to replicate the familiarity and ease of work and non-work related discussions. Whether the company is 100% or partially-remote, communication has become more intentional.

Managerial Board members have drafted policies to create a more supportive work culture that is mutually trusting and credible (for both the business and workforce). One area that has facilitated this is in the frequency and segregation of discussions. It makes sure that employees can access work, tasks, managers and each other during work hours. Given how it takes a worker an average of about 23 minutes to refocus on work after a distraction, flexible work arrangements have restricted meetings to necessity and the availability of concerned parties

3. A diversified talent pool

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Companies are on longer sticking to conventional hiring within the region in which the job posting is advertised. Applications from all over the world are welcome for remote positions, with the only stipulation that there is strong connectivity and accessibility. This explains the rise in digital nomadism, where formerly-corporate workers are mobile, and plug in to offices from anywhere in the world.

The biggest advantage and effect of long-term remote work is that the talent pool has become a cultural melting pot of ethnicities,competence, and experience. Teams are growing without the added logistical expenses of desk space, hardware and relocation. On average, companies save upto $68 million in rental costs, and about 20% on office utilities and stationery. A global pool not only brings multiple insights and perspectives to work but also helps teams learn more about each other, all from the comfort and safety of their home.

4. Better air quality

The reduced traffic has helped the earth profoundly, as observed by the IQair report. As more people are staying indoors, limiting their trips and activities to walkable distances, there has been a phenomenal improvement in air qualities in densely packed cities such as Los Angeles in the U.S, and in Delhi and Mumbai in India.

If and when offices resume and a staggering number of workers rejoin the physical environment, companies could consider a hybrid arrangement that helps employees return to work in phases, while working remotely for more time. 43% of workers in the US are open to this model, while only 12% feel secluded due to the large-scale work-from-anywhere experiment and wish to return to the physical work environment. It would be beneficial to companies, employees and to the planet if hybridity could be explored in the newly structured remote work policies.

5. Virtual growth opportunities

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Being able to achieve a balance through either work-life or work-integration strategies has enabled businesses to save on training expenses that would have otherwise gone into contracting a training professional. In fact, virtual courses are now tailored for working professionals so that they can self-study at their own pace, and make more informed choices about the direction they would like for their professional development.

Additionally, junior or inexperienced recruits and senior, experienced staff can participate in mentoring (and reverse mentoring) programs that aim to impart crucial lessons in a business context. Such programs promote rapport between coworkers and break down communication barriers that arise from conditional visibility into the organizational hierarchy. In simpler terms, senior managers can select a cohort to train remotely, and conduct informal leadership sessions to pass on soft skills to the next generation of workers. And younger professionals can help such leaders tap into social media platforms to amp up the presence and credibility of the company they work for.

More than a third of firms whose employees have switched to remote work believe that this will continue to be so long after the Covid-19 pandemic ends. Personal safety aside, it’s about saving the long term costs businesses save that is associated with running an office. From paying rent to funding research bodies, firms can capitalize on the increased collaboration and productivity without burning a hole in their pocket.

More importantly, as remote work prevents a manager from having to constantly micromanage. By making teams more self-disciplined and self-organized, leaders are free to plan strategically, enhance their decision making skills and engage with creative teams. This is evidenced by research from Sorry, I was On Mute, a website that has the resources to help remote workers thrive in their digital environment!

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