2020 hasn’t been the year we were expecting.
Thanks to a global pandemic, many businesses closed their doors and sent workers home.
It’s been a big change and a real wake-up call for digital industries.
Once the pandemic is over, will we go back to the office as normal or switch to remote working?
The Demand for Remote Working Is Coming
Adzooma (disclosure: I work for the company) recently ran a survey and found that:
- 83.5% of people enjoy working at home.
- 67.6% more productive when working at home.
- 60% of people would work at home if they had the option.
- 52.6% said they don’t want to return back to a normal office after COVID-19.
If this shows anything, it’s that the demand for remote working is coming.
It might not be from every employee, but the majority of people enjoy working at home and it’s unlikely they’ll want to give it up so easily.
If businesses are considering going remote full-time, they need to know that there’s a difference between remote working now and in the future.
On the whole, we’re coping now.
But coping isn’t a long-term strategy.
If this is what the future looks like, there are long-term challenges that businesses will have to face.
Here’s what hurdles businesses need to know about before making the decision to go remote in the future.
1. Not Everyone Will Have the Right Home Setup
Not everyone is lucky to have a home office or desk to work from.
One study claims that only 34% of those who work from home do so from a desk. That’s only one in three people.
Not having an office space means that for some, they will struggle to be focused and deliver the same output that they can in an office.
It’s a lot harder to work from a small laptop screen than it is from multiple monitors.
It also means people will struggle to switch off.
If you’re working from your living room or bedroom, there’s no boundary between your work and home life.
Everything becomes muddled up, making it hard to switch off and putting employees at greater risk of burnout.
As well as this, working from the sofa can ruin your posture and increase aches and pains. That might be a lot of yoga memberships to think about if your employees are suffering.
With this potential health risk, it’s likely that businesses might be expected to provide desks and equipment to employees that haven’t got them.
That’s an extra expense to be factored in if you aren’t downsizing your current offices.
In addition, it won’t solve the problem of what happens when people’s homes are too small to house this equipment and whether businesses would have to force them into the office or subsidize fees for a co-working space instead.
2. Some Residential Areas Have Slow Internet Access
Having good internet access at home is like winning the lottery.
Despite all our advancements in technology, some parts of the UK have been proven to have worse internet speed than Mount Everest Base Camp.
In some cases, there’s nothing you can do about this.
If someone lives in an area with poor internet, you can’t do anything about it.
However, if it’s a real problem you could subsidize part of employee’s broadband bills to upgrade them onto better packages if their current set up just isn’t cut out for the job.
If you need to hold big meetings, it might be best to do this in-person, so you don’t have to lose time waiting for someone to reconnect or figure out why their mic isn’t working.
3. Working Around Children at Home
As schools and nurseries open after the pandemic, some childcare problems will be eased up, meaning parents won’t be trying to balance their job around their new teaching role.
But that’s not to say there won’t be some issues with working at home, such as having newborns and school runs.
If someone doesn’t have a home office, their children will be around more and may stumble into the background of important calls, so part of the solution will be tied to tip #1.
One way to support employees with children is to offer flexible hours.
Remote working is part of the equation.
Flexible hours need to be the other half to allow people to work where and when it suits them.
If you need to hold a lot of meetings or work collaboratively, you might want to set core hours between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. where everyone has to be present, but outside of that, employees can pick and choose.
4. Keeping Employees Mentally Healthy
Mental health is important, but it’s hard to keep track of at home.
Although 66% of people believe that working at home is beneficial to mental health, being isolated at home can trigger ill health.
With remote workers, it’s your responsibility to keep regular contact with your employees and ensure that they always have someone they can reach out to.
It’s also worth investing in mental health training or platforms like Wellbot.io to keep an eye on your workers wherever they work.
5. How to Hire Remote Workers
If you offer remote working, your talent pool of potential employees opens up.
But that also comes with its own challenges, including the whole interview process.
Before you hire, you should solidify your remote working policy to narrow the search.
If you require people to be in the office certain days of the week or for big meetings, you’ll still need someone who doesn’t live too far away.
When hiring a remote worker, you don’t just need to test if they’re a fit for your company but if they’re fit for remote working.
This might be asking questions about the setup that they currently have at home and what remote experience they’ve had before.
It’s always best to conduct interviews face-to-face, but for the initial interviews, you might want to consider setting up Skype calls to test the waters of what it will be like to work with them online.
Plan Now, Reap the Rewards Later
Whether you’re planning on going fully remote or just want to offer flexibility, you need to plan on how to overcome these challenges with remote working.
The earlier you plan, the easier the transition will be after the pandemic.
What’s more, you’ll also get the first pick of the best talent out there.
- How to Adapt Your Existing Business to Go Virtual [PODCAST]
- 9 Reasons Why Your Switch to a Virtual Workforce Should be Permanent
- Traditional Agencies Are Dead: 25 Benefits of a Remote Workforce