This year hasn’t been what anyone expected but it is reality and the sooner we can all move on, the better. We are, of course, referring to the impact of Covid-19 on the global economy and how it has sped up remote working opportunities.
The global pandemic has forced many businesses to close their doors and encourage people to work remotely. For now, it seems to have helped ease the burden but there are several obstacles businesses must overcome to ensure the success of a remote working culture.
A Wake-up Call For Many Industries
There’s been a massive shift in focus with the coronavirus serving as a real wake-up call for most industries. Some companies have had to permanently downscale their workforce while others were fortunate enough to create a remote working structure. Fact is, almost 25% of all workers in the UK were furloughed with more than 60% of the adult population being able to work from home.
It’s clear that the pandemic has impacted some more than others but the question is whether or not we will go back to the office as normal or switch to remote working once everything is over.
Amidst the chaos, it seems most remote teams are coping but it may not be the case in the future. If businesses are considering going remote full-time, they have to understand the challenges they will likely face.
Related: ‘Simple COVID-19 Marketing Ideas’
Coping With Remote Working Challenges
If the future involves more people working from home, simply coping isn’t good enough in the long-term. Here are some of the hurdles businesses need to know about before shifting to a completely remote working setup.
1. Employees May Not Have The Appropriate Setup At Home
To ensure remote work productivity, staff need desks, monitors and all the other peripheral equipment. If someone has multiple monitors at the office, it may not be possible at home which means working on a small laptop screen instead.
Also, not everyone is fortunate enough to have space for a home office or even a desk to work from. One study shows that only 34% of remote workers (one in three people) have a desk. Working from your living room or bedroom without a proper office or desk means there’s no clear boundary between work and home life.
As things become more muddled, it gets harder to switch off which greatly increases an employee’s risk of burnout. Businesses will likely have to provide their remote working teams with the necessary desks and equipment if they don’t have their own.
2. Slow Internet Access In Some Residential Areas
Despite all the advancements in connectivity technologies, some parts of the UK have very slow internet speed which is not ideal for working remotely. If an employee lives in an area with slow internet, there isn’t much you can do except subsidizing part of their broadband bills. This will help enable them to upgrade to a better package, especially if their job requires it.
3. Remote Working With Children Around
Having children around when working from home is not ideal as it’s difficult to concentrate on both company duties and childcare. While the opening of more schools and nurseries may ease some of these challenges, it won’t help those with new-borns and who have to go on school runs.
Without a real home office, whether in the garage, loft or spare room, children will be around more. They may inadvertently make a lot of noise and appear in the background of important calls. Not only that but they can also trip over cables or play on the work computer which can lead to damage.
A good way to support employees with children is to offer flexible hours. One way to make this work is to set hours where everyone has to be available like 11 am – 2 pm. Outside of these hours, flexi-time or remote employees can choose.
4. Managing Employees’ Mental Health
A healthy mind is essential but it’s not easy managing this with remote teams. While 66% of people believe that remote working is beneficial, the isolation of being at home can lead to certain health conditions.
It’s the company’s responsibility to keep regular contact with remote workers and to assign someone who they can reach out to. Employers should consider mental health training or online apps like Wellbot.io, Moodpath or SilverCloud.
5. Hiring The Right People For Remote Work
While offering remote working opportunities will expand the available talent pool, it’s not all plain sailing. There are certain challenges companies need to face, including the all-important interview process.
Before hiring anyone, put in place a remote working policy to narrow down the search. For example, companies who want people in the office two days a week, for whatever reason, must ensure the person lives relatively close-by.
Hiring the right person is not only about whether they fit in with your company culture but also if they fit the mould for remote work. This means asking questions about their current home setup and what experience they have.
Face-to-face interviews are always preferred but in this case, consider Skype calls or Zoom meetings. This will help test the applicant’s abilities and what it may be like working with them online.
Contrary to what some may believe, working from home is quite a challenge especially without the office rules, routine, equipment and even the social bantering with colleagues. While some are happy to stay at home, many people struggle.
There are some incredible benefits of working remotely from an increase in productivity to more flexibility, no commuting and the chance to spend quality time with loved ones. However, maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be difficult but a good company remote working policy and plan can help. For more advice on remote work, read this handy article ‘Working Remotely: Tips For Business Owners’.
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