Can Remote Working Save The Economy?

In recent weeks businesses of all types have arranged for staff to work from home. Remote working is not a new idea but it is a new experience for many people as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Working from home 

Preparing to work from home rather than from a traditional office is usually done in a more relaxed way but millions of workers have had such arrangements forced upon them in recent weeks. But there are challenges, as someone who works well in an office environment surrounded by colleagues and friends may feel isolated when working from home. Remote working will, of course, suit others who are empowered by the freedom of not having to face a daily commute. 

Some managers find it difficult too, as they learn to manage staff without normal levels of oversight. They also fear employees won’t work as hard or be as productive. Staff too may expect greater guidance and direction, as they worry about doing the wrong thing or making the wrong decision. Less face-to-face engagement with colleagues can be challenging too, as regular interactions and the sharing of information with others often helps to solve some everyday problems. A lack of proximity to other people affects how we relate to each other, as the body language of those around us provides clues to what they are thinking and feeling.  

Meeting the challenges 

There are of course other challenges to overcome when working from home as children and unplanned visitors impinge on our time and break our concentration. Not to mention working from the kitchen table in a house not designed to accommodate workspace. But there are ways to cope, as we choose or are forced to work remotely. Adopting a structured approach to the day is helpful, as it provides a sense of purpose and an understanding of what you need to achieve. Ensuring a rich mix of ways to connect with others is essential too, as email alone is not enough to function properly. Using technology to have regular chats with colleagues and clients helps keep us from feeling isolated. Finding the right types of technology helps to contribute in a way that makes us feel valued. It is also vital to encourage social interaction albeit virtually, so we are aware of what is happening in other areas of the business. Time for the small talk that naturally happens in an office is essential too and should be encouraged by managers as part of their role. Managers must also be aware of, and deal with, signs of stress triggered by remote working, as it will inevitably suit some people more than others. 

So, remote working has received a boost from the current COVID-19 crisis and nothing inside or outside the workplace will ever be the same again.