Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of the curated electronic newsletter Morning Brew. They recently talked about trends for the year and mentioned remote work. It’s not a surprise. An increasing number of employees found themselves working from home during the pandemic. And organizations discovered that employees can be productive working from home.
As the author of the Morning Brew piece pointed out, “If the change a) made people’s lives better and/or b) saved the company money, we can reasonably assume some form of the behavior will stick around.” I believe that’s exactly what’s happening with remote work.
The article also pointed out one other thing that’s important. There’s a difference between working from home and remote work. Right now, most of us are working from home. For those employees who can do it, that’s great. It reduces exposure risk. Remote work is different. Remote work is about working somewhere other than the “office” or where you’re typically assigned to work.
For example, I typically work from home. If I were to spend the day at a client site, that’s remote work for me. For someone else, they might work in an office environment and spend a day working remotely from home. This distinction might matter when it comes to creating and updating company policies, procedures, and workflows.
The good news is many of the skills that employees use to be effective and productive when they work away from the office environment are the same ones that they will use when working remotely. As we start the New Year, here are a few articles that might be helpful in keeping our remote working skills current.
Home is quickly becoming the new workplace. Last year, when we were talking about working from home lasting a few weeks, we might have said to ourselves that we can make sacrifices if necessary. The longer this situation lasts, the more we need to consider a longer-term solution, especially in terms of your office set-up. Think of it as “Working from Home Version 2.0”.
Work skills may change in the new Working from Home 2.0. We can set up the best home office ever and, if we don’t use it well, then we won’t see the results. Having the right work from home skills is the second part of the equation. If your organization is saying that you can work from home for the foreseeable future, think about those skills that you will need to work on and how you start training yourself to get better at them.
Managing home and work demands can be a real balancing act. Employees want to be successful at telework, but managers need training for it. Define the parameters. Both the employee and employer need to agree on why you’re giving remote work a try, what’s expected in terms of manager and employee performance, and what will happen if expectations aren’t met. Open communication is essential.
Remote video calls are adding a new wrinkle to job search. There are advantages to your video background showing that you are professional, organized, and well-read. These are qualities that you might mention during the interview and your video background backs it up. The downside is that depending on the background, biases can creep in. What if there’s a book from a controversial author in the background? Or a piece of art that someone might find offensive? And the pros/cons aren’t simply on the candidate side. A recruiter working remotely has to think of the same things.
The employee experience drives engagement and retention. HR departments have the opportunity to take a cue from their marketing counterparts and create employee experiences – using self-service technology – that resemble the customer experience. The good news is most employees are customers (somewhere), so the adoption rate should be significant, which brings immediate value to everyone involved.
I’m not sure exactly how many employees will continue working from home as more vaccines are distributed. I do know that commercial real estate is expensive, and organizations might be looking for ways to reduce expenses in 2021. That could translate into more employees having the option to work remotely.
Organizations and employees will want to take some time to figure out what remote work means for their organization. I don’t believe that remote work will be successful if it’s managed by exception. Remote work norms should be identified and communicated so performance expectations can be met.
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