The remote work format came into play before the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the coronavirus was instrumental in its mass adoption. In the IT industry, most professionals can work productively from their homes, staying in touch with the rest of the team via email, video conferences and corporate chats. For many employees, remote work is a benefit. At the same time, managers often struggle to supervise distributed teams and HR specialists have to revise their strategies to handle temp recruitment. In this article, we’ll list the pros and cons of the new work format and share tips on making the most of it. Employment agency Znoydzem helped us with this advice.
Why Should Employers Allow Their Staff to Work Remotely
The transition to remote work enables organizations to achieve five important goals:
- Cut down expenses. Businesses don’t need to rent large offices, clean them, pay utility bills, provide free food for all team members, purchase supplies for them and so on.
- Reduce carbon footprint. It’s a consequence of the previous point: there is no office and the staff doesn’t need to commute daily to their workplace. As a result, carbon emissions and energy consumption go down, which is excellent for the environment.
- Access a larger pool of talent. Employers can search for candidates from any region of the planet. It’s a great chance to find professionals with rare qualifications. Besides, companies can further cut down their expenses by contracting specialists from countries with a lower cost of living.
- Boost employee retention. Today, professionals value autonomy and flexibility. Opinion polls show that people prefer more comfortable working conditions to higher salaries. At home, they’re subject to less stress and enjoy greater autonomy. They remain more loyal to their current employers and don’t feel the urge to look for alternatives.
- Increase productivity. Some organizations don’t switch to remote work because their owners and top managers are afraid their staff will become lazy. Yet the statistics prove the reverse. If managers know how to coordinate a distributed team, its performance will be likely to grow.
Sometimes, fully remote work is not possible — for example, if staffers handle confidential information or clients want to meet them face to face. In this case, the hybrid work format comes in handy. It suggests that employees visit the office two or three times per week and work from their homes the rest of the time.
What Should Companies Be Aware About
On the flip side, remote work has a few disadvantages:
- Miscommunication. For youngsters, it’s easier to start working remotely from scratch. However, most of the current labor force is used to seeing each other face-to-face in the office. They largely rely on body language to identify the mood of the person with whom they’re talking (and maybe grasp the hidden meaning of their words too). To fix this issue, companies should experiment with different remote communication tools.
- Loneliness. Some professionals lose motivation if they feel disconnected from the team. To prevent this, employers can create dedicated chats where their staff members will be able to discuss work-related matters (in one chat) and any topics they wish (in the other one). Besides, it would be wise to regularly organize networking events either offline or online.
- Vulnerability against cyberattacks. Businesses need to invest in cybersecurity and hire or outsource genuinely good specialists in this niche.
- Uncertainty about measuring the results. To overcome this issue, managers should set clear goals and timelines for all team members. It’s essential to break down large tasks into smaller ones — thanks to such an approach, it will be easier to track the progress on each task step by step.
- Unforeseen expenses. For instance, when a company needs to conduct training in the office, it can ask a coach to come to its office. But what if the organization lacks a physical place to meet? In this case, the employer can rent a conference room for a few hours. Alternatively, they can conduct the training online — but this might require the installation of profile software that might not be free or buying a subscription for cloud services.
Another issue is the laws and regulations. In some countries, the legal system is more advanced in this aspect than in others.
Trends That Influence Remote Work
The transition to remote and hybrid work goes hand in hand with these technological trends:
- Automation of business processes and AI implementation. Automation can leave hundreds of millions of people jobless in the next decade. Yet it doesn’t mean that professionals will simply lose their positions. At the current stage of technological development, AI solutions are far from being perfect. Humans need to train and supervise them. To be able to do it, they should acquire new skills and qualifications — and their employers should help them with it.
- Need for upskilling and reskilling. Even if one’s work doesn’t become obsolete because of automation, people should learn to use new tools. The requirements for the already existing positions will be likely to change because of the tech progress.
- Multicultural and multilingual workforce. Today, it’s a norm to form distributed teams that include people of all ages and from different parts of the world. Professionals should become more tolerant of each other and more open-minded.
Employers should be flexible and ready to embrace changes sooner than their competitors.
Tips on Managing Remote Teams
Trust your team. Managers should guide remote groups of professionals but avoid controlling every single step they make. Of course, it’s crucial to compose genuinely strong teams. Each member should have the right skills for their role.
Set clear KPIs and let them be easily measurable.
Prioritize speed. To encourage the team, let them complete at least one small task per day. This will motivate them for further achievements.
Invest in software. Install project and/or product management apps.
Respect your team members’ work-life balance. Avoid sending messages to your staffers outside their business hours. Don’t use casual messengers (such as Whatsapp) for work-related matters — instead, stick to Slack, Discord or any other alternative that you use for business.