What are the challenges of remote working and how should companies address them during a crisis? After the crisis? Is remote working here to stay?
COVID-19 forced companies to switch to remote working very quickly. Although this transition went reasonably well in a short period of time, there are a few pitfalls that business managers need to be aware of.
After all, the implementation of remote working is broader and deeper than most organizations realize. To be successful in the long term, a structured approach is needed, together with a significant investment to change corporate culture.
The challenges in implementing remote working
The COVID-19 crisis is confronting companies with several challenges over a short term. In order to maintain productivity, a quick adoption of remote working is a must. However, this also brings with it some difficulties.
The three major obstacles in implementing remote working are the following:
- Implementing work from home (WFH) in a structural way.
Companies that see salvation in a fast adoption WFH tools without structural adjustments risk a loss of efficiency and frustration among employees. Some companies already had a remote infrastructure available at the start of the crisis are now realizing their full potential. Remote capabilities are important, but a successful cloud adoption requires leadership, clear guidelines and real commitment.
- Securing the infrastructure for remote working.
Where companies used to manage everything on-premises, they now must organize everything within a cloud environment. This requires in-depth security and structural changes. This should not be taken lightly as cybercrime has increased in during the outbreak. Remote working requires a process to allow secure navigation for remote workers.
- Balancing the work and private lives of employees.
Through the immediate introduction of WFH, employees experience a blurring of the boundary between work and private life. Early adopters show that this does not necessarily impact productivity, but it does pose a threat to collaboration and communication if left unattended. Actively investing in your employees’ well-being therefore is an extra point of attention.
Leadership needs to define a goal
Company leaders need to ask why they want to implement remote working beyond the demands of the current crisis. Is the aim to reduce office space? Can it be used to optimize commuting, or introduce more flexibility into the corporate culture? Etc.
Once the goal is defined, the first step starts with adapting leadership to the new way of working. For example, by actively reaching out to their teams on a frequent basis, optimizing the calendars, planning regular feedback rounds.
Communication should be quicker and much more frequent. A set of clear guidelines are needed to help employees deal with this new way of working: not only why, but also what and how.
Find the right tools for success
Remote working is here to stay, so it does not suffice to focus on short-term solutions. Successful companies also plan for the long term and adapt their corporate culture accordingly.
In fact, the entire business needs to be operated virtually, for employees, suppliers and other members of the ecosystem. Always look at what the company needs, not at what is most popular. Every business culture is different and may need different tools to keep productivity high.
Start the process of migrating and adopting cloud services. Organize training for employees, spread them over several days, listen to the feedback, adapt where necessary. This way of structural implementation is essential. Remote working is an investment. Do not rush, build step by step.
Remote working is here to stay and will more than ever become an integral part of the way we work. Now is the time for companies to prepare for this 'new normal'.