“If I had asked the public what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse. “-Henry Ford (1863 – 1947), Founder of Ford Motor Company
And such is the innate anticipatory nature of humankind. No matter how fast we get, we wish for faster things. Yet, we can never be faster than we think. But given ample time, we tend to accomplish feats previously thought unimaginable. Why? Innovation.
To be specific, in the words of the renowned economist Theodore Levitt,
“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things. “
Hence, it is only a matter of time before we start acting on our thoughts and innovate. But not every idea gets a warm welcome from other minds. As Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, says,
“I believe you have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate. “
So, many obstacles come in between innovation and your motivation to innovate. But, despite the odds, humankind has been seen to prevail as a community throughout history. In the present digital age of connectivity, we thrive as a global community instead. This constant persistence and evolution in the survival of humanity are because of a quality known as resilience.
Defined as ‘the ability to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened’, many influential personalities across history share the essence of this quality:
“Do not judge me by my success. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
― Nelson Mandela
“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
― Margaret Thatcher
And aren’t we fighting our own battles constantly amidst the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic? Even after repeated wave surges, we have managed to fortify our community through resilience and innovation.
Similarly, the organisational culture has improvised its ability to tackle the pandemic coherently. How did organisations adapt, then? Through remote working.
What is Remote Working?
Remote working, aka telecommuting or Work From Home (WFH), is an arrangement between an employer and an employee. Employees are not expected to commute to any specific office space to work for the organisation. Instead, the employee can choose to work from anywhere, even their own homes.
Although the concept emerged in the 1970s (and has been implemented partially since), the COVID-19 pandemic drove maximum favourability of employers towards this new work environment.
Telecommuting was said to be against the traditional working environment and wasn’t favoured by many. But, Bob Sullivan writes on GeekWire about how Coronavirus is diverting the organisational mindset more towards remote working.
As social distancing protocols and lockdowns were being implemented worldwide, remote working was becoming the only plausible solution towards continuity of jobs for employees. Hence, its popularity erupted, and various giant corporations started adapting to this new work environment.
According to a report from Accenture, 63% of high-growth corporations have already implemented remote working capabilities in their workforce. Twitter announced that their employees could work remotely forever! Unilever sent 65,000 of their employees to WFH.
Similarly, various other big companies like Facebook, SalesForce, Amazon, American Express, Dropbox, Ford Motor Company, Microsoft etc., have implemented remote working policies.
It is not to be considered a hasty, inefficient decision or an obligation to follow governmental rules. Instead, research has proven remote working to be beneficial for both employees and employers! The Accenture report states that around 83% of the 9,326 workers in their sample prefer working remotely.
The American Psychological Association issued a press release stating how multiple pieces of research prove the benefits of telecommuting for an organisation. Remote work provides employees with autonomy, which significantly increases their work satisfaction and motivation levels. Furthermore, employers experience drastic cost reductions too.
The outweighing benefits have further led to more innovation in remote working. As organisations are getting accustomed to this new work environment, more advancements are being made to implement it. We can now envision the future of work with certainty.
The Future of Work – Hybrid Workplaces
Companies are now experiencing an even further jump towards a hybrid model of workplaces that incorporates working from office and home. The idea of a hybrid workforce consists of employees working either remotely or at a central office location. However, unlike remote working, employees can choose both – working anywhere and/or in-office – based on their preferences.
This involves some employees working remotely from wherever, while others work in the office. Additionally, some work a few days in the office and the rest days remotely. This works excellent because there are mixed views of preferences of the employees, i.e., some prefer working from the office, while others want remote work, while the rest like a blend of both.
Since it has become so popular, there is a high chance we have or will experience remote working for our organisations. And as research states, this model of working is only beneficial under certain circumstances. Hence, we need to be prepared for it.
Remote Work Tips for Employees
Have you found yourself in this arrangement, working at home, set by your organisation? As an experienced remote worker, I have a few tips to share with those who still have discrepancies in maintaining their work-life balance during remote work.
Follow Your Regular Job Shift Timings.
Despite getting the autonomy and flexibility to work anywhere and wherever you want, stick to your daily shift timings like the traditional work model. This helps you remind yourself that you’re still an employee working for your organisation and drastically reduces time mismanagement.
If required, give flexibility in the end and start time of your shift to allow you relaxation in your work, resulting in higher productivity!
Maintain Your Space
Wherever you plan to work, make it your personal space and cut off from all distractions. If you have people around you in your home or wherever you’re working, be sure to identify your workspace and not let any distractions come your way during your work time.
Organise Your Breaks
Keep a dedicated amount of time for breaks in between work.
Exercise and Eat Healthily
Either stretch a little or do mindful breathing. Anything that brings you closer to your body awareness is exercise. It helps divert your mind off work stress and helps to focus once you start working again.
Keep in Touch
Just like you give particular time to work and exercise and breaks, set aside specified time for communicating with peers, colleagues, friends and family. Keep half the time for business or work-related communication, while the other half for leisure or social contact.
Previously, communicating over the phone was not my strong suit. However, I assimilated invaluable tips and tricks from how to answer the phone guide that gave me the confidence to be the best, even during remote work.
Remote Work Tips for Employers
Most researches highlight tips and benefits for employees in remote working. What if you’re an employer? In my experience of working with various employers, I have identified the following tips that employers should adopt for remote working:
Focus On Clear Communications
Keep everything transparent and make efforts to remove any discrepancies being seen within the communication channels. Resolve any hindrances for employees to contact you and provide the maximum accessibility to you and their team members.
Professional communication expects you to be very clear and concise. Writing a professional text message involves a lot of thought and scrutiny. So, be sure to critically assess your communication beforehand.
Schedule Regular Team Activities
These can involve team meetings that are NOT work-related. Instead, they provide employees with the awareness of how vital mental and physical health is for us all and how they can improve them during remote working.
Document Your Managing Strategy
However, you plan to manage your employees, document it clearly and thoroughly. Schedule weekly roosters of employees and maintain task boards for efficiency. Document all queries your employees have and make them accessible to all.
Provide Prompt Feedback
Employees love feedback! It helps in boosting their morale and confidence. It even allows them to better themselves further.
Identify No-Work Time Zones.
Set specific times in the day where no employee or employer is to work. No work communication shall be carried out nor any work-related activities.
Through resilience and innovation, humanity has overcome the barriers posed by COVID-19 and created new working models that accommodate more flexible routines for employees. Remote work is now the trending environment that employees are preferring.
In line with this, whether it be a hybrid workplace or remote, the tips I have outlined above will drastically influence your job productivity. Following them, I managed to overcome my work burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Embed them in your daily mindset and achieve excellence in your work!