14 Aug Remote Work May Not Pose a Long-Term Problem for Online-Based Tech Companies
Looks can be deceiving. These days offices in Silicon Valley may look like there is hardly any work going on, but they are the ones who can actually pull off having their employees working remotely all the time — and still grow as much as they want to, because their main business and even products are online.
Even when it seemed hard to execute a virtual workforce model in the initial Covid-19 outbreak, companies in San Jose knew they had to continue business operations and continue having their staff working remotely. The opportunity costs of halting business operations simply left them with no choice. It helped immensely that their products are online, where everyone it seems has learned to adjust to these days.
Besides, employees are learning to embrace working in their corporate apartments and are considering doing so on a permanent basis. Nothing much has changed. Business of big tech companies in San Jose are even thriving. Remote working is, well, working.
There is evidence of companies delivering results with remote staff, with a spike in remote job posts. According to global data gathered by LinkedIn, remote job posts nearly tripled since March. Moreover, remote job searches have increased by 60 percent and applications have multiplied 2.3 times.
Obstacles in remote working
Successfully executing such a workforce model can be a challenge for global mobility managers. It definitely requires their attention in order to tend to employee needs. The model demands time, effort, and a well-planned approach to handle the intricacies of a remote workforce.
Since working from home is not an entirely new business concept, companies can use businesses’ past experiences to identify factors that make remote working a challenging strategy. Harvard Business Review provides information on obstacles inherent in remote working:
Lack of physical supervision. It’s understandably bothersome for employers when they’re unable to presently observe employees working. IE University mentions that a study by the Institute of Leadership Management discovered that 80 percent of managers across different industries acknowledged that remote supervision hampers their ability to secure consistent work practices.
On the other hand, employees expressed tensions from being deprived of the convenience of communication and support from supervisors. In some cases, miscommunication can even cause workers to assume supervisors’ lack of trust concerning the quality of their work.
Loneliness. Social isolation has caused a tremendous impact on employees’ emotional and mental health. The lack of social interaction with colleagues can leave them feeling left out and are far more susceptible to experience job dissatisfaction. This can be problematic for employers as it increases the chance of employees quitting.
It’s important for managers to approach workers based on their personalities. Extroverts are particularly hard-hit by the shift to remote working since their demands for social connections are definitely higher than that of their introverted counterparts. However, introverts, albeit more reserved, possess social needs as well. So the occasional check-ins can help managers gauge their level of well-being.
Distractions at home. Establishing clear boundaries between professional and personal life becomes more difficult when working from home. For instance, parenting duties can disrupt an employee in the middle of work activities. Although childcare is an option, safety advisories and imposed quarantines have caused closures of schools and daycare centers. Without these options, employees are forced to balance work activities and family responsibilities at home.
Other distractions come in the form of entertainment. It’s quite tempting to take a short break from work to check on social media posts or have a short chat with a friend. Either way, it affects an employee’s productivity.
Remote talent management skill
Time has named the Covid-19 outbreak the “World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment,” catching unprepared companies off guard. The pandemic drove unsuspecting human resource managers to quickly learn the complexities of managing remote talent in a short amount of time.
With many sources of information at their disposal, managers ought to exploit them to formulate strategies in response to the abrupt changes in business operations.
To give an example, the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Human Resource provides important questions to think about when supervising a virtual workforce:
- How does a company maintain communication with its employees?
- What resources do employees need in a work-from-home setup?
- Which work activities can employees perform remotely?
- How do supervisors monitor employee productivity and work schedule adherence?
- How does a company keep employees motivated and productive?
- What are methods to manage remote non-exempt employees?
Another source from Baylor University supplies supervisors with tips on how to manage remote workers.
Set clear expectations. It is critical for managers to establish clear expectations from their workers. Failure to do so leaves employees without direction on their professional responsibilities. This results in workers figuring things out for themselves in hopes of driving results from their intuition.
Communicate with members intentionally. Managers should set the example by taking the initiative to model clear communication between team members.They would also have to anticipate more questions and clarifications during meetings due to the limitations of virtual communication. It would help to summarize all the key points that have been discussed while keeping a recording of the meetup in case the need to review arises.
Have regular employee check-ins. The convenience of coming across team members on break times isn’t possible in remote work setups. For this reason, managers need to conduct more frequent follow-ups and check-ins to ensure healthy work practices and avoid miscommunication.
Gather feedback and ideas. Not all great ideas come from the internet. Managers should tap team members to come up with valuable insights and feedback to identify the best fitting solutions for the company. An advantage to this practice allows employees to experience a more inclusive company culture.
Honing remote management skill. Now positioned in a different working environment, remote supervisors are required to acquire a new set of skills of managing remote talent. Rather than conducting time-consuming research on their own, they can opt to take courses on how to effectively manage teams without physical supervision. LinkedIn provides some reputable classes ranging from beginner to intermediate levels such as Leading at a distance and The value of working remotely.