One of the most significant byproducts of the pandemic of 2020 was the shift in the work culture around the world. With employees being unable to commute to the office, companies quickly adapted to the concept of them working from home.
At first, companies and employees struggled to reorganize themselves into an efficiently functioning remote workforce.
However, with time, businesses were able to introduce the right tools to bring efficiency, collaboration, and accountability. They also began comprehending the benefits of remote work.
Companies were able to save costs on rent, utilities, housekeeping, parking, and commute allowances. On the other hand, employees could cut down on transport and food costs. They were able to bring flexibility to their schedules.
Thus, when lockdowns ended and employees could return to work, many chose not to. Many businesses also decided to go fully remote or introduce a hybrid model of working, which comprises a mix of remote and onsite work arrangements.
The Shift in Employee Mindset
SCIKEY's study titled "Talent Tech Outlook 2022" revealed that 82% of respondents admitted to preferring the work-from-home arrangement to working in a physical office.
The focus group comprised 100 C-Suite and human capital leaders from four continents. 64% stated that they felt more productive when working from home. They also experienced less stress.
Another noteworthy statistic is that 80% of HR managers admitted that hiring talent to work onsite was more challenging in a post-pandemic world. Working from home was emerging as the preferred option.
Let us delve deeper into why employees, when asked to return to work in a physical office, prioritized the opportunity to work from home or through the hybrid office model.
Positive Benefits of Working from Home
There are several reasons why more Indians want to work from home today.
Every one of us has unique aspirations, needs, and interests. For some, remote work presents an opportunity to enable them. Here is a snapshot of some reasons driving the trend to work from home:
Improved Work-Life Alignment
Today, more and more members of the workforce are looking to invest more time and resources in meeting their responsibilities and interests outside of work.
For instance, many have responsibilities either toward children or seniors. They may have lost family and friends to the pandemic and realized the need to spend more quality time with their family and friends, as well as pursue their passions.
The option to work remotely enables more flexibility to meet their specific needs.
Opportunities Outside Tier 1 Cities
Post-pandemic, there has been a reverse migration of employees from cities back to their hometowns.
Members of the workforce who came to the cities seeking full-time employment were now able to work from home and reside in their home states or villages with their families and communities.
Hence, working from home enables companies to create opportunities for talented professionals in remote locations.
Growth of Inclusive Opportunities
Though remote work did exist earlier, the pandemic legitimized it as a primary model of work. This newfound respect for remote work has also enabled companies to attract candidates from underserved communities and meet their diversity aspirations.
Workers from underrepresented communities and groups often tend to prioritize remote work because it adds a layer of safety while reducing exposure to prejudices at work.
This trend has fuelled the growth of inclusive hiring to include workers from more ethnicities, people with a wider range of disabilities, and members of marginalized communities.
Aspiration for the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Remote work has enabled more workers to adopt the lifestyle of a digital nomad. Professionals from areas like design, content creation, and marketing, can work from their laptops.
With advances in cloud computing and access to a wide range of digital tools, they can now work from anywhere and stay loyal to their companies while also enjoying myriad travel experiences.
A Boon for Knowledge Workers
Certain job roles are best performed in isolation. For instance, remote work gives knowledge workers the space to completely immerse themselves in their work and bring more depth to their output.
With the adoption of IT solutions such as zero-trust network access (ZTNA), more knowledge workers are likely to embrace the hybrid work-from-home model.
Key Challenges for Businesses
While workers are keen to adopt the hybrid model of working, companies do face certain challenges in implementing it in a way that optimizes collaboration and productivity and drives business outcomes. Let us understand more about these challenges:
Lack of a Robust Tech Stack
Workforces today need access to a wide range of tools and software that can help them bring efficiency and a collaborative approach to their work.
These include improved communication tools, data management systems, customer relationship management systems, and bookkeeping tools, to name a few.
The combination of tools and software varies across sectors, as well as the nature of the business. But the common thread is that they must talk to each other.
Businesses, however, often curate the tech stack piecemeal, leading to chaos in workflows, lack of data integrity, compromised security, and duplication of processes.
The efficiency and mental health of remote teams can suffer when the communication protocols are not well-designed.
Team members must understand the chain of command, whom to reach out to in case of a crisis, how to report their work, and understand what is expected of them.
Otherwise, there can be a tendency to under-communicate or over-communicate, causing cognitive overload.
Lack of Training
Digital agility and evolving market demands require that members of the workforce continuously upgrade their skills. Several job roles and skills are now redundant.
However, several companies have been ill-prepared for this new normal. Lack of training leads to lower team motivation and, in turn, reduced productivity.
Lack of Access to the Right Tools
Companies will need to invest in helping employees customize their setup while providing them with the right tools to perform their work. This is an important investment for employees, as every job profile is different and has unique technology needs.
For instance, a sales rep may need access to a robust customer relationship management system and an auto-dialer. On the other hand, a finance professional will need access to an innovative data management system that offers actionable data.
The inability to pair professionals with the right tools reduces productivity and generates chaos.
Poor Onboarding Practices
Many companies lack the processes to onboard new hires and reduce the time needed for them to become productive at work.
Fresh hires may find themselves unsure of who they are reporting to, who their team members are, and their expectations of the job role.
The lack of efficiency during the onboarding process raises talent acquisition costs. It also increases the burden on existing employees to take on additional responsibilities until the new hire becomes productive.
Framework for a Highly Productive Workforce
There are several steps that companies can take to proactively invest in their workforce and proactively support employees in boosting team productivity. Here is a basic snapshot:
- Customize the Hybrid Work Model
Companies with hybrid work models must customize the arrangement based on the genuine needs of their employees. There is no one-size-fits-all hybrid office model.
Some companies design it to ensure that all employees work a few days in the office and a few days from home. Others have some full-time remote workers and some full-time onsite workers.
On the other hand, some companies offer flexible timings, giving employees the privilege to choose based on what is relevant to them. Choose a hybrid work model that works for you and your employees.
- Track Employee Performance
By investing in the right tools, companies can onboard and manage the performance of all employees virtually via a unified online platform. This approach encourages transparency and accountability.
It also enables enhanced expectation setting as well as superior communication between all team members. The tools can vary based on the sector and nature of the employee's work.
- Invest in Learning Management Systems
One of the top investments toward enhanced productivity is to make it easy for employees to learn and keep building industry-relevant skills.
Teams require access to on-demand online learning resources, mentorship, expert sessions, and regular training courses to help them stay relevant.
Companies can also use models such as gamification to expedite learning by making it more engaging. Training needs to be highly customized, especially as teams get leaner.
Identifying gaps and building content that is relevant and specific for each team member enables them to add more value to their work.
- Leverage Data to Enhance Productivity
Today, companies have access to a lot of engagement data via the various tools used by them.
For instance, human resource teams can understand exactly which online learning resources are working. They can review data from assessment tests, as well as track the performance of employees during sales calls.
They have access to valuable insights, which can be leveraged to enhance training programs, offer regular feedback, and support employees in their challenges.
- Standardize the Onboarding Process
Today, with access to the right tools, companies can track the engagement with a member of the workforce right from the time they interview with the company.
They are also able to onboard new members and standardize the induction process for both remote workers and onsite hires. However, they will need to invest in planning the new hire's induction experience so that they become productive within the shortest time.
For instance, virtual introductions can be arranged with team members and reporting managers. They can be set up with an employee branding tool kit to better understand the company's history, vision, and mission and be paired with a mentor from Day 1.
- Manage Notifications and Screen Time
A constant barrage of notifications across various channels can be extremely disruptive for employees in a highly connected world.
Companies must establish policies to streamline and strengthen communication between team members. This reduces the scope for distraction and miscommunication.
It enables employees to complete their tasks on time and invest more energy in knowledge-based activities such as research, networking, planning, and brainstorming for newer initiatives.
Embracing the new normal can prove to be an overwhelming experience for businesses and their employees.
Whether they have fully embraced the work-from-home model or are experimenting with the hybrid work-from-home model, companies do need support to enable a productive work environment alongside achieving their business goals.
Partnering with an experienced LearnTech company can enable businesses to bring efficiency to their employee management systems and stay focused on achieving their core business objectives and vision.
Hero Vired is a premium LearnTech company offering industry-relevant programs in partnership with world-class institutions, such as Harvard University, Georgia Tech, and Code Academy, to create the change-makers of tomorrow.