The Rise of Remote Working: Challenges and Opportunities
One of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 has been the rise of remote working. Like everything, this has sparked both challenges and opportunities. Speaking to Members of the B4 community in one to one conversations and our recent events at B4 HQ, we’re hearing a number of common themes, both positive and negative.
Communication and Collaboration: Remote working can make communication and collaboration challenging, especially when team members are working from different time zones or have limited access to technology. The sparks that used to fly over the water cooler or in chance meetings in the corridor is lost on line….everything is planned and more structured, which may work for some but is a huge loss for many.
Isolation and Burnout
Remote workers may experience feelings of isolation and burnout due to a lack of social interaction and the blurring of lines between work and home life. Dare I say remote working has heightened laziness for some also, a lack of motivation to get ready for work. Day to day jobs performed pre pandemic can now be seen as a bit of a chore. For certain events we’re noticing drop out rates are higher with those working from home finding it harder to go to an event from home rather than on the way home from the office as they used to. However, attendance at more structured information sharing events is better than ever.
Technical issues such as internet connectivity problems, hardware and software issues can affect productivity and cause frustration and whilst there was an element of tolerance of cats walking across screens and children crying, for some these are now becoming more annoying and less acceptable / professional distractions.
Remote work increases the risk of security breaches, such as hacking or data theft, especially if employees are using their personal devices or public Wi-Fi networks. Again the laziness which has crept in could be lowering our guard and providing hackers with more opportunity.
Global Talent Pool: Remote work allows businesses to tap into a global talent pool, expanding their talent search beyond geographical boundaries. This in itself could be seen as a problem with money flowing out of the local economy.
Remote work can lead to cost savings for businesses, such as reduced office space and equipment expenses. For those on long leases, however, there are challenges with what to do with the space with many investing in repurposing space to be more welcoming and even ‘home-like’.
Remote work allows for greater flexibility in work schedules and locations, making it easier for employees to manage work-life balance. This is great for wellbeing and provides organisations with a wider talent pool to tap in to with part-time roles becoming increasingly appealing to organisations that have to cut their cloth.
Remote workers have reported increased productivity due to fewer distractions and a better work-life balance.
Reduced Environmental Impact
Remote work can reduce the carbon footprint of businesses by reducing the need for commuting.
Overall, the rise of remote working has presented several challenges and opportunities for businesses. Whilst the challenges should not be ignored, businesses can capitalise on the opportunities presented by remote working to achieve greater productivity, cost savings, and access to a global talent pool. The post-pandemic working habits and patterns do seem to vary from generation to generation, however, and this merits further comment. Comments from B4 members have focused on younger generations wanting to come to the office more than their senior colleagues, because they have felt isolated at home or don’t have a suitable working environment at home. One B4 member commented on one of B4’s many webinars during lockdown that junior members of staff were perching their laptops on window ledges whilst sitting on the end of their beds.
The ’great resignation’ could certainly be categorised as more of a pattern amongst those coming to the end of their working lives so, as time goes on, although remote working is undeniably a key characteristic of post pandemic working life, could we ultimately see a phased return to a pre-pandemic working life?
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