Over the past year, many businesses have proved that not only is remote working possible, but that remote working is just as effective as working in the office.
So, where does that leave the traditional office? Is the modern desk job a thing of the past? Or do we just need to strike a balance?
In this blog, we put the office in review. We will discuss our own experience with remote working. We will also give suggestions on how remote working can be best implemented for optimal results.
But we won’t leave you there. We will also address the reverse problem of going from remote working back into the physical office.
In our experience, more than 80% of businesses can realistically “work from home”, provided employees are equipped.
What this means in practice is that your employees must have a home office space, a strong Wi-Fi connection, and a good measure of privacy in order to tune out their everyday lives.
Admittedly, this sounds like a lot to ask, yet in our experience, working from home is less difficult than it sounds. Employees have adjusted. It may just be our own attitudes holding us back.
For example, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon calls remote working an “aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible”. Attitudes like this are common.
But what does the data say? While remote work studies are in their infancy, those we do have reveal that employees were just as productive, if not a little more productive, when working from home.
So, if the problem isn’t employee performance, what is it?
We think remote working gets a bad rep because it feels antisocial. It can be lonely. Furthermore, solving problems remotely becomes much more tedious, as conversations need to be scheduled in. You can’t just wander over to a co-worker’s office to ask a question.
But contrary to what we might think, working remotely requires more communication, not less. More emails, more Slack messages, and more Zoom calls. The distraction to work may be work itself.
This is why our key recommendation is that remote businesses work on streamlining communication.
Block out call-free, message-free, Zoom-free periods. Give some structure to the day as you would in a physical office, and reduce drawn-out email chains by implementing automated help centres, how-to guides and high-quality office software.
At Woods & Co, remote working had become normal by the time the lockdown ended. Our own performance levels were high, and employees reported feeling comfortable with the arrangement.
In fact, many of us had forgotten about the intangible benefits of working together in the office.
Needless to say, the physical office helps motivate employees and fosters collaboration.
Yet there’s no denying that things have changed. Globally, we are still on our guard against COVID-19.
So, what’s changed? Office spaces need to be more spacious to accommodate social distancing practices, and Zoom is now a permanent feature of our working lives.
Sound-proof “Zoom pods” have become common in the post-COVID office. Desks are more spread out. Health and hygiene measures play a greater role in our daily operations.
Employees also have a taste for remote working. While some conversations are better had in person, many employees want to retain the option of working from home.
The answer is not to send everyone home again, but to give staff the respect they deserve by offering flexibility.
Again, it’s about perspective. There are many up-sides to flexible working options, and while we won’t list them all here, we will let you in on a little secret within the recruitment sector:
You will be able to hire and retain better applicants. Things like travel times and parenting requirements are no longer obstacles when remote working is on the table. You can now hire the best person for the job, irrespective of distances and limits on their office hours.
If 2021 has taught us anything, it’s to make things easier on ourselves. Woods & Co simplify and streamline the hiring process on your behalf, by getting to know job candidates for you. Allow us to match your company with the best job seekers.