The days when having a job meant daily commutes, traffic, and a 9-to-5 schedule at the office are coming to an end in multiple sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic is, among other things, a massive experiment in remote work. Stakeholders now have a better understanding of the vulnerabilities and shortcomings of traditional work environments. This setting has undermined the importance of being digitally literate and mobile to function and progress in a world where social distancing, online communication and services are becoming the norm.
Employees now organize around a virtual office as employers scramble to put short-term solutions in place. Building flexibility into work schedules creates value in general business operations, allows for a more diverse work force and increased talent availability. Companies must move quickly to get strategies in place for this new era— or risk being left behind by the competition.
What started out as a necessary measure to stem the spread of COVID-19, remote work has now been cited as a viable strategy for many companies across the globe. Employees appreciate the chance to save on commutes and tend to family members; whilst employers have noticed the potential cost savings, as long-term office leases may no longer be needed.
The widespread availability and ease-of-use technologies to collaborate and stay in constant contact like Zoom, Slack and Google Hangouts are throwing offices a lifeline. However, some employers struggle to maintain the same depth of engagement with their employees as they could otherwise have in a traditional work setting. It takes skill to communicate remotely, with work that requires a high level of responsiveness and facilitation. When adequate infrastructure and employer-provided tools are in place, the need for a dedicated space ‘at the office’ can be eliminated.
Buffer, a fully remote software application company, published a report that delves into trends growing across the remote work landscape. A highlighted statistic is that 98% of remote workers want to continue to work remotely (at least for some of the time) for the rest of their careers. With tech giants like Twitter and Facebook making this shift and extending their work-from-home policies to after the pandemic, it seems like remote work will become the new normal.
Ensuring business continuity is just one reason companies are embracing remote work. It also can help companies address talent gaps, as flexibility widens the pool of available workers to different geographies and to individuals once limited by family obligations or other circumstances. In a recent survey of HR executives, 76% said the top employee complaint during the pandemic has been “concerns from managers about the productivity or engagement of their teams when remote.” Most employers still tell their employees when to come into work, when to leave, and how they’re expected to work when they’re there. Why not measure employees by the value they create, rather than by the number of hours they sit at a desk? This is a part of face-time culture where physical presence is a gauge for productivity. Remote work is a great tool to counteract the flaws inherent of facetime management and rather empower employees with a flexible work schedule, clearly defined deliverables and autonomy. If the old world of work was one of barriers – walls, rigid schedules and limited tools – the new world of work emphasizes mobility. This represents the changing nature of work and the introduction of a more diverse, fluid workforce.
COVID-19 has changed how businesses operate. Almost every organization is in the midst of a historic virtualization. This forced ‘work-from-home’ experience has shown us that remote work is a viable strategy for those equipped. Most notably, remote work and distributed organizations are more agile, hence better placed to solve complex contemporary problems. Satgana aims to foster meaningful collaboration that is not constrained by a specific geography. We agree that being remote is a strong asset to a company’s productivity and long-term value creation. Being a globally distributed and agile venture enables us to create synergies between skills, knowledge and networks of the global North with those of the global South.