Forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the possibility of working remotely has stayed with us permanently, becoming a popular way of working and sometimes even a requirement (especially among the representatives of the youngest generation in the labor market). Lockdowns have made employees aware that working from home saves a lot of time as they no longer need to commute, and that it can be as effective as working from the office. However, some business leaders don’t trust employees to be productive when working out of the office. What might be the reasons for this?
Working remotely – table of contents:
- Lack of social interaction
- Lack of control
- Lack of timely feedback
- Disrupted work-life balance
Lack of social interaction
Many people believe that staying together in one room, with everyone handling their own responsibilities, has an influence on our efficiency. The lack of social interaction (spending all day alone in the room), in turn, makes it easier to get distracted and take a break or devote time to household chores. While it might seem that in the office we are exposed to more distractions (due to the presence of co-workers, for example), at home we can easily find just as many – and this is not without its impact on our productivity.
The interaction between individual team members has a positive effect on the efficient execution of the task. When you can discuss any problem that arises with another person, you come up with a solution faster. Many employers believe that video conferencing will never replace face-to-face meetings with team members.
Lack of control
Many people believe that when employees are not controlled, they are significantly less focused on their duties, and thus the time it takes to complete individual tasks increases. What’s more, some managers think that remote workers spend time at work on unrelated activities (such as cooking dinner, doing laundry, walking the dog or picking up a child from school), which makes them work fewer hours than they are required to. As a consequence, their productivity drops.
Lack of timely feedback
When all employees come to the office every day, it takes less time to resolve certain issues and get answers to important questions than when everyone is at home, only communicating through an instant messenger (such as Slack or Rocket.chat). In practice, it often turns out that we can’t complete a given task until we receive a response from our co-worker – and this person doesn’t write back promptly or is unavailable. The extended task completion time due to such situations also negatively impacts employee productivity.
Disrupted work-life balance
Some studies have shown that when we work from home, we spend more time performing our duties due to frequent breaks and non-work related tasks. Of course, some companies provide such flexibility, but most of them still require employees to maintain work continuity because of the need to exchange information or interact. In this way, we reduce our productivity and lose count of how much we actually work, which can have negative consequences for both physical and mental health.
Working remotely – summary
Despite the fact that most studies show an increase in efficiency when working remotely, there will still be leaders (representatives of an older generation attached to traditional working models) who will see a connection between working remotely and lower productivity. The solution, however, is not to work from the office to keep an eye on employees. Rather, it is necessary to place trust in the remote worker, to shape an organizational culture where flexible working conditions are accepted by everyone, and to look for ways to increase employee efficiency. Daily meetings, reporting or special workflow management tools can help with the latter task.
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