The fact that the pandemic disrupted work practices across the globe, from 2020 – 2021 would be quite an understatement. Since the Great Depression, the world has seen a paradigm shift in the way businesses work and hire people. As businesses evolve to keep up with the new work changes, one question has constantly been playing on the minds of both businesses and employees, post the pandemic scenario. Remote Work
Will the remote work trend continue?
The answer is a resounding YES!
While both people and businesses were hesitant to adopt remote work initially and had deep concerns about its effectiveness, the last two years have shown that it is a viable business model for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups. According to one study, remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year.
And that’s just one of the benefits that businesses enjoy in the remote work scenario. This article takes an in-depth look at how remote work affects productivity at both the organization and employee levels.
Changing employment trends: The need for diversity
The pandemic inadvertently gave employers more exposure to a diverse remote workforce. Remote work opened up borders and helped organizations grow through a better understanding of international markets due to diversity among their workforces.
For example, companies relying on the Asian subcontinent for their growth benefited from better insights into their consumers through internal feedback from their employees based in those regions
Remote work has also been the harbinger of change at the employee level as they started seeking diverse and better workplaces across the globe. In addition, the easy availability of information on the internet gave employees much-needed exposure to the latest work trends, pay scales, and benefits they could enjoy while working remotely for other organizations, leading to a growth in their numbers.
How have employers’ needs changed, making Remote Work a more viable solution?
One of the biggest learnings from the pandemic has been that hiring virtual talent works and effectively boosts productivity while saving overhead costs. That has led to a structural shift in the mindset of employers towards adopting it on a large scale.
As companies redraw their marketing plans and aim for a larger share of the global market to make up for their losses due to the pandemic, the need of the hour is to scale up their workforce with talented people.
That can easily be achieved by recruiting remote employees or hiring virtual assistants trained for diverse tasks and available for onboarding within 24 hours.
The best part is the talent is not limited to particular occupations or job profiles but across the entire workforce. So, you can have project managers, social media managers, content creators working remotely while contributing to the singular goal of growing the company.
- Better Performance: As employees operate from home, they tend to be more accountable and quality-focused, leading to better performance.
- Higher Productivity Levels: With fewer distractions as compared to an on-site workplace and lesser interruptions (read water cooler chats), remote workers tend to be more productive. As per a survey by Forbes, teleworkers were an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts.
- Cost Savings: With no steep office rentals and overhead costs, small and big businesses showed higher profitability by employing remote workers compared to yesteryears.
- Low Attrition: With workers getting comfortable with a work-from-home environment that offers them a better work-life balance, there are lesser chances of attrition among remote workers. That also contributes to the bottom line due to the reduced frequent hiring and training costs usually associated with on-site employees.
On the employee front, as people see a declining need to travel to their workplace or be close to cities and commuting points, there has been a gradual shift in their residential needs. In fact, the trend is closer than we think due to people shifting to other low-cost neighborhoods. For example, there were 15,000 apartments available for lease in Manhattan, New York last September, up from 5,600 a year before due to non-takers, something which has not been seen in 14 years.
How can start-ups and small businesses amplify their businesses by utilizing Remote Work solutions?
Start-ups and small businesses need not be restricted to hiring quality talent from their neighborhood or city limits since remote work opens up a plethora of hiring opportunities.
By hiring remote workers or virtual assistants, they now have access to a global pool of highly qualified workers trained in different skills such as social media marketing, bookkeeping, administration, and project management tasks.
By using a remote workforce to handle their daily routine and mundane tasks, start-ups and small business can focus the time saved on growing their business and building their network. It also offers them an opportunity to enjoy a better work-life balance, something many entrepreneurs seldom do.
What are the common challenges of working remotely?
Despite its benefits, remote work will still need a couple of years before it becomes mainstream and the default work option for both employees and companies.
In countries that are at a technological forefront and have a significant internet presence, the potential for utilizing remote work as a preferred option is much higher. Its scope and productivity levels could vary across countries based on their infrastructure, industry adaptation, and benefits offered to remote workers.
An understanding mindset, flexible hours, and performance-based payouts could see more people accepting remote work as a norm.
What role does remote work, lack of engagement, and burnout play in the current mood of the workforce?
Being able to adapt to a remote working environment was a challenge many mid-level managers faced, as they had spent years in an on-site environment. However, surprisingly the transition to a remote life was much easier and better than many skeptics anticipated. The primary reason for this is the flexibility people enjoy in fixing their work schedules and spending more quality time with their family, which was not easy before.
Despite many advantages, some employees also face burnout and low self-confidence challenges, given the lack of physical engagement and the need to stay communicated with teams from different time zones. Organizations need to create and inspire a work culture that promotes team bonding, transparency, and meaningful communication to address these issues.
The Pomodoro Technique, which suggests a 5-minute break during every 30-minute work period and a 15-minute break after every 4 to 5, 30-minute cycles, is one such method for employees to decompress for a moment and come back refreshed and ready to focus. As a result, it can eventually lead to better productivity and lower burnout among employees.
Remote work is an idea whose time has come
People may be surprised to learn that remote work is not a new concept but an old idea that gained recognition due to the pandemic. What seemed to be a temporary solution to keep businesses running during the pandemic has now become a mainstream model for workers across the globe.
People have grown so used to the idea that they are wondering why they never adopted it before. As a result, they are refusing to return to their workplaces, leading to the Great Resignation. This phenomenon has seen unprecedented numbers of people resigning from their workplaces in the quest for more flexibility and freedom at work.
Remote work is a win-win situation for both employers and employees, provided they maintain a strong sense of responsibility, flexibility, and integrity at both ends.
Neelesh Rangwani, after completing his MTech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Madras worked with KPMG’s Management Consultancy Division.
He then joined Rocket-Internet’s Fab Furnish as a marketing manager before moving to Germany to join another venture of Rocket Internet.
Skilled in digital marketing, growth strategies, product management, customer relationship management (CRM), and start-ups, he co-founded Wishup in the year 2015 along with his friend Mr. Vivek Gupta.
By Neelesh Rangwani