The role of business technologies, especially remote working solutions, has come into sharp focus as organisations adjust to what many are calling the new normal — hybrid working.
Remote working solutions are now part and parcel of the digital technologies that brought new businesses into existence, and enabled others to spur growth despite Covid restrictions.
McKinsey reports that companies with overall technology capabilities make better economic gains as compared to organisations that are at risk of digital disruption.
Amid the debate regarding the extent of use of technology in businesses, looms large this important question: What should organisations do if workers prefer homeworking?
Many organisations are reluctant to let workers enjoy the flexibility of homeworking — and link their return to offices to better performance. And they seem to have reasons too.
“Tesla has and will create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth. This will not happen by phoning it in,” CNBC quoted a leaked email from Elon Musk.
Known for his strict work expectations, Musk wrote the email to his Tesla and SpaceX employees — reluctant to return to the office as Covid restrictions are eased.
When employees initially started working from home due to the pandemic, employers considered it to be a temporary arrangement. Not every business leader expected homeworking to evolve to it’s current state.
Remote Working Solutions: The Emerging Reality
Latest surveys show businesses around the world are gathering pace and workers are indeed returning to offices, but, surprisingly, in fewer numbers than expected.
Just 4 percent of the human resources leaders said they are requiring all employees to return to the workplace full-time, Forbes reported.
And less than half (45%) said they were requiring some workers to return to the office five days a week, Forbes quoted in a new survey of human resources leaders from the Conference Board — a nonprofit business research group.
With hybrid working becoming a more permanent feature, companies will need to invest in safer and better remote working solutions.
Those ahead of the curve have already embraced the change, incorporating digital technologies and hybrid working solutions to streamline work and communicate effectively — beyond the traditional concept of workplace.
In February 2022, 84 percent of workers, who had to work from home because of the pandemic, said they planned to carry out a mix of working at home and in their place of work in the future, according to Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.
The latest McKinsey poll states that 90 per cent of organisations will adopt some combination of remote and on-site work as Covid restrictions relax.
The survey has lessons for businesses still reluctant to let workers work from home because of a lack of trust, and fear of data breaches.
They are slow to gather what others have already understood: facilitate remote work through safe technology, foster an environment of trust, and ensure a better work-life balance for better results.
“It makes no sense—employees are happier and more productive when they work from home two or three days a week, so very few employers are forcing them back to the office full time,” Forbes quotes Nicholas Bloom, the Stanford University economics professor whose research on remote work is widely cited.
Protecting Data Breaches
Several data breaches in the past have shattered the confidence of many organisations in the concept of homeworking.
Experts say data breaches can be precluded if companies used safer remote working solutions, trained employees, and carried out checks.
Organisations should work to secure newly established networks when employees work outside the security of firewalls set up for offices.
It is also a good idea to inform employees not to access official servers or cloud accounts over public networks.
This exposes important data to breaches. Organisations should buy remote working solutions and hardware for employees, leaving little to chance that they use their own devices.
Working Out The Trust Deficit
Not only organisations, but societies grow when an environment of trust and cooperation is created among them.
Employers should create a relationship of trust with their employees for their empowerment when facilitating them with remote working solutions.
The affordability of remote working solutions has increased with the passage of time, while its use has clear benefits for both the individual and wider society, reports the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
But trust at work doesn’t come easy, especially when employees work from home, and requires conscious efforts from employers.
Deloitte research shows managers who work under strict controls suspect the ability of their workers to work remotely.
Organisations should work to encourage employees to grow and adapt their skills to become more efficient while working from home.
Deliberate efforts should be made to share knowledge, best practices, common experiences and company culture.
Remote Working Solutions And Work-Life Balance
Research shows employees become more productive when organisations work to ensure better work-life balance for them. Stressed workers will trade promotions and higher salaries for permissions to work from home.
The latest estimates from the UK Labour Force Survey puts the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020/21 at 822,000. It means out of every 100,000 workers, 2,480 felt depression or anxiety at work.
Employers can help make homeworking simpler and safer by incorporating remote working solutions.
And organisations lacking in the use of technology will eventually have to catch up with those already making great gains due to the use of digital technologies, and remote working solutions.
Technology not just helps businesses capitalise on resources better, but provide a competitive edge over others.