Besides improving employee efficiency and productivity, a conducive remote work environment may boost profitability
The outbreak of viral infection gave the world an option to experience work from home, which has been a long-desired option for many. Coping with a demanding work environment and taking care of children and aged parents has always been a challenge faced by many working professionals across the world. As expected, employees have reacted favourably to the paradigm shift. A recent McKinsey survey reveals that employees working remotely saw more positive effects on their daily work, were more engaged and had a stronger sense of well-being than those working in non-remote jobs with little flexibility.
While many businesses have successfully deployed WFH policies to enable their employees to work safely and securely during the pandemic, it alone is not enough to ensure employee satisfaction. In the absence of policies aimed at providing flexibility in the remotely enabled work culture, employers risk creating an unhealthy working culture that can prove detrimental to employees’ mental, emotional, and even physical health.
The illusion of flexibility can result in ‘fake-flex’ where employees are expected to put in extra hours and be available at irregular times. Such a work culture becomes challenging especially for parents and caregivers. According to research by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at KCL, the boundaries between work and home life seemed to slowly dissolve for the surveyed employees as they often worked for longer hours to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities.
Towards a Flexible Remote Working Paradigm
Workers and employers around the world are grappling with new ways of operating even after a year into the pandemic. In light of the second wave of Covid-19 outbreak, companies have an opportunity to rethink the employee experience in ways that respect individual differences (domestic lives, skills and capabilities, mindsets, mental health, etc.) while helping them to adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances. And offering flexible work programs is the key to not only attracting and retaining the best and most diverse talent but also providing them with a work environment that is conducive to their well-being and growth.
According to a study conducted by Forrester and LogMeIn, 77 per cent of employees said that flexibility is an important factor when they look for a job and 83 per cent said that they are likely to continue in the same company if they are allowed to work flexibly in the future. The report also reinforced a business truism: happy and satisfied employees make happy and satisfied customers, with 93 per cent of employees saying they were able to provide a good customer experience. Moreover, more than half (56 per cent) of the respondents felt they have been more productive in WFH than in the office.
Besides improving employee efficiency and productivity, a flexible remote work environment can have a positive effect on a company’s profitability. After implementing WFH policies, employers in the United States have saved over $30 billion every day by eliminating costs related to real estate, overhead expenses, travel subsidies, and the like. Most organizations that enforced remote working models in the wake of the pandemic are expecting them to stay in place for the foreseeable future. Further, as revealed in the Forrester-LogMeIn report, more than half (53 per cent) of the businesses are planning to invest more in tools and resources aimed at enabling the workforce to work remotely and flexibly. These include solutions such as high-quality video conferencing software, webinar platforms, messaging and project management tools, digital whiteboards, etc.
In the wake of the continued relevance of remote work, many organizations are planning to utilize their office spaces in sync with the flexible working structure to enable hybrid workspaces. By relying on rotational shifts, for instance, organizations will ensure that staff concentration in the office, on any given day, is attuned to social distancing protocols. Such transformations that prioritize employee safety, security, and well-being will empower employers to seamlessly and efficiently navigate the shifting tides of the post-pandemic business landscape.
The author is Managing Director – India, LogMeIn
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