The shift towards an efficient remote working strategy

By Sneha Naik and Priya Chetty on May 20, 2021

Over the years, with internet access becoming a common phenomenon across businesses, remote working environments have shown an increasing trend. Remote working environments refers to a style of working wherein professionals are allowed to work outside of their offices. The remote style of working helps employees enjoy more flexibility as they do not need to commute to the office on a daily basis (Nickson & Siddons, 2012). This helps employees to execute their work in a timely manner boosting their creativity and work productivity (Lee, 2018). The hectic work commute and increased workload have made employees worldwide increasingly favouring remote working strategy for having a better work-life balance.

Key factors contributing to a remote working strategy

Technology and globalisation had paved the way for organisations globally to adopt more efficient and virtual communication methods at the workplace. Though the economic and social downturn caused by the pandemic Covid-19 was a major factor for many organisations to adopt a remote working strategy. The growing emphasis placed by organisations on employee well-being, innovative processes to increase profitability, environmental sustainability and gain competitive advantage has led organisations to adopt innovative work practices like remote working (Musgrove, et al., 2017). Major factors that have contributed to making remote working strategy a over the years are listed below (Alton, 2018).

  • Increased internet access: The increased access to internet connectivity worldwide has led to workplace communication techniques like email, virtual conferences, streaming easier getting streamlined leading to better communication at the workplace.
  • Workplace diversity: Globalisation has led to increased levels of international collaborations leading to workplace diversity and the need for an organisation to adopt innovation in work practices and business operations.
  • Innovation and automation: Automation and machine learning have led to companies adopt innovative and agile technologies like artificial intelligence and workplace practices like cloud computing, to speed up the work processes to meet increasing business demands and gain a competitive edge.
  • Dynamism in businesses: The need for fast-paced business operations to meet changing business requirements, employee-friendly work culture, coupled with uncertainties like the Covid-19 pandemic has made organisations move beyond the traditional office environment and more viable options like remote working for its employees to boost their morale and increase workplace productivity.
  • Preference for flexibility in working hours: The millennial generation, joining the workforce is constantly looking for more flexible work options with work-life balance and time management. As such, remote working strategy is a great option considered by the millennials which are expected to shape the future of the potential work environment exponentially (PWC, 2020).

Properties of a remote working environment

The Covid-19 pandemic brought about major disruptions in the economy and public health during 2020. Many countries imposing stringent lockdowns to prevent the spread of the disease forcing businesses worldwide to opt for a remote working strategy to ensure continuity. Many global companies have given their employees under stay-at-home orders for ensuring their well-being and business continuity during the pandemic (Singh, 2020). The pre-pandemic status quo also showed that the remote working strategy was a preferable working option considered by many companies globally. According to the State of Remote Work 2017 study conducted by OWL Labs (2017), around 85% of companies in the USA allowed some form of remote work for their employees, this number being on a continual rise. To make the remote working strategy successful, organizations need to have effective remote working policies such as (Piletic, 2020):

Clarity in eligibility requirements

One of the foremost essentials of the remote working strategy is a set of guidelines and policies for demarcating remote-compatible roles and eligibility criteria (Deloitte, 2020). These guidelines help management in implementing an appropriate remote working environment and help employees in understanding their job requirements, leading to the fulfilment of the organisations’ goals and objectives.

Organizing and accessibility

A worker could qualify for 100% remote work but this does not imply that organizations should set their own working hours. In order for a remote working job to be successful, there should be proper scheduling and availability guidelines for the workers to be allowed to leave their workstation for flexibility (Janin, 2020). This would ensure that the important job requirements are strictly completed by the workers on time and give them the required flexibility for a healthy work-life balance.

Proper devices for remote job

Depending on the nature of the work, it becomes imperative for organisations opting for remote work to provide their workers with the devices and equipment (Sharkey, 2020). This approach not only ensures business continuity in a smooth manner but also makes workers accountable and responsible when working remotely. Cybersecurity risks and data safety should also be taken care of when enabling remote work jobs.

Job productivity

A remote work policy should specify the productivity standards to be met by the workers working remotely. Clearly spelling out how productivity monitoring should be conducted. This would enable workers to schedule their jobs on a priority basis leading to timely completion of jobs and maintaining workplace productivity (Bayern, 2020).

Remote work annulment

Workers who are accustomed to working remotely may find it difficult to get in an office environment. As such, organizations should have clear policies specifying revocation of remote work privileges at any time as per the needs of their business enabling workers to adapt easily to such changes (D’Aquila, 2020).

Confidentiality clause

Remote work environments have risks of businesses losing physical control of the work environment. Such a situation poses a risk of company trade secrets and other vital information being leaked out. Policies should have a stringent confidentiality clause included as part of their remote working policy for workers to ensure the protection of their data and information (Whitney, 2020).

Types of organisations opting for a remote working strategy

Many organisations across various industrial sectors including information technology, e-commerce platforms, social media platforms, educational institutions, financial institutions, freelancing platforms are now opting for remote working environments (Yerby & Page-Tickell, 2020). For example, major companies like Google, Amazon, Flipkart, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Capital One, Coinbase, Amazon, PayPal, Upwork, Shopify have continued to opt for a remote working strategy for their workers (Kelly, 2020). Organisations are gaining from such remote work possibilities and increasing their digital technologies to make working remotely a potential permanent fixture.

However remote working facility is not feasible for many other industries, particularly those that require a physical location or a presence, such as hospitality and healthcare. In the manufacturing sector, a complete shift to a remote working environment is impossible (Kumar, 2020). For example, in the automobile sector, only a part of the operational process can be automated for remote working strategy. The manufacturing of the automobile will still have to take place in a physical factory.

References

Sneha Naik
  ,

Discuss