By Yogita Tulsiani,
A lot has changed in the last two years, especially after how Covid-19 struck and changed the way we used to live and work. Work from home was an alien concept, at least in India where this mode of working was limited to just a fraction of people but it is gradually becoming a norm given that the pandemic is far from over. At the same time, remote working is gaining popularity as well, as this way the workforce, which used to find it tough to find work-life balance, is able to find time for family, leisure, and other activities. Not just employees, even companies are also benefiting from it as they can save on a lot of costs, including rent, Utilities (electricity, Wi-Fi), maintenance, equipment, furniture, among others.
In fact, big tech companies such as Google, Amazon, among others have announced plans to continue remote working for their employees even after the pandemic is over. Even hybrid working is also gaining popularity as employees are asked to come to the office two-three days a week, giving them flexibility.
This means the trend is likely to gain momentum as it’s a win-win situation for all. But does it mean there are no challenges in this new style of working? The picture is not rosy at all as there are plenty of challenges both the employers and employees face.
One of the primary challenges that businesses face is maintaining employee engagement with a scattered workforce. On the other hand, communicating and collaborating with team members, besides productivity and technological issues. This is just a start and there can be many ways to mitigate these issues, here are five key factors to keep in mind while working with a dispersed workforce:
1) Technology is the key: Technology can play a key role, use the right tools to maintain efficiency and coordination. Major businesses are dependent on automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. These can help not just with communication, but also with project management and document management. For example, Dropbox, Zoom, google docs, cloud storage, Slack, Hangouts, among other tools could be utilized to keep businesses and employees working remotely on the same page in the communications ecosystem. These tools offer quick communication without any limitation and can help run the daily operations smoothly.
2) Frequent communication: A distributed workforce may be the only way for some businesses but the primary problem for many employees and employers getting accustomed to remote working is smooth coordination. In normal times, people could be called in a conference room for meetings and discussions but they are all happening virtually now, thanks to platforms such as Zoom, Webex, Google Meet, among others.
In everyday work, it gets tough to maintain fine coordination among team members and there can be many reasons for that. Hence, businesses will have to establish strategies that are suitable in the present circumstances. Businesses will have to connect with their scattered workforce in a different way. Frequent communications can resolve many issues organizations face these days and it’s essential for them to maintain face-to-face interactions with employees so that directions can be passed easily and are not misinterpreted.
3) Mitigate tech challenges: Both businesses and their employees are heavily dependent on the latest tech of the day to stay connected so that daily operations can be managed fluidly. However, not all employees are versed with the latest technology or may not have the tech ecosystem at their homes. It becomes important for businesses to ensure that the employees have the right tools to work remotely.
4) Defined working hours: Organizations should chalk out plans to have defined working hours for employees so that they are not asked to work at unusual timings. This has been one of the primary challenges for employees as they are expected to be available any time of day, which eventually results in disappointment and demotivation for the workforce.
5) Space for feedback: Managing communication can be challenging when workers are scattered. Set up a feedback system where employers can assess participation and productivity and provide feedback to the employees. This will prevent any decline in efficiency and productivity, at the same time, help employees share any concerns they may be facing.
(The author is Director and Co-founder, iXceed Solution. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)