Work from home has become a new reality for countless organizations and their employees across the globe. The concept was still being implemented by organizations on a small scale when the world was suddenly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The current crisis has made it necessary for organizations to switch to a large scale remote working for their employees for ensuring business continuity. Many experts are of the opinion that work from home is likely to become the new normal in the coming months and years. However, many organizations and employees are still trying to get a grasp of this new way of working, which they have been forced to adopt almost overnight.
Getting a clear idea of the Work from Home concept
Most people, when they think about work from home, conjure up the image of individuals sitting in front of their laptop in a secluded corner of their home and working. The whole idea of remote work is based on the ability of an employee to fulfil their daily office responsibilities from their home with the same level of efficiency and commitment. It also requires organizations to provide the employees with the same sense of support and belonging as they would at a dedicated workplace. Thus, contrary to the popular belief, work from home requires the contribution and efforts of both the employers and the employees to succeed.
Benefits of Work from Home
Allowing the employees to work from home can provide multiple benefits for an organization. It can ensure a better work-life balance for employees, which can, in turn, impact their motivation and efficiency positively. It can help employees get more out of a typical workday by saving the time usually spent on commuting. Most importantly, it can help organizations cut down on their real estate and overhead costs significantly. It can be a win-win situation for the organizations and their employees.
Challenges of Work from Home
However, the concept of Work from Home does pose new challenges for organizations. The most important of these challenges are as follows:
The biggest challenge faced by businesses in enabling work from home for their employees is maintaining their productivity and efficiency. The question being asked by organizations is whether employees can work at the same level of efficiency and dedication from home as compared to working from the office.
Organizations also need to make the right digital tools and infrastructure available to the employees to make it possible for them to work from home. Employees also need to be comfortable using these technologies and tools.
Internet connectivity is the most critical aspect for ensuring smooth work from home experience. Arranging for a fast and stable internet connection can be a major challenge.
Most organizations find it extremely difficult to understand how to maintain teamwork and collaboration between members of the workforce who are working remotely.
How to overcome these challenges
The above challenges make it difficult for organizations to adopt work from home as a permanent part of their operations strategy. However, thankfully most of these challenges can be overcome with proper planning and well thought through policies and processes. Given below are some tips that can help organizations in this context and get the most from their work from home employees.
- Enabling a digital workplace
Organizations need to invest in the right digital tools and technologies required for the employees to work from home efficiently. Right from digital all possible business processes, organizations need to provide employees with digital tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs) web conferencing platforms, online document storage and sharing platforms and all other applications that they would normally have access to when they are operating from office. Remote technical support for these tools should also be made available.
- Support for infrastructure and connectivity
Organizations need to formulate policies to address issues related to internet connectivity and infrastructure such as power backup so that the employees go for the best solutions available to them locally and then the expenses reimbursed. A stable internet connection from a reliable service provider is the bare minimum.
- Training and coaching
Organizations need to provide online training programs for employees for skill development and enhancement. This should be supplemented by coaching from their supervisors and other identified subject matter experts.
- Regular communication
Organizations should make constant efforts to assuage any insecurity or discomfort that their remote working employees may have through extensive communication. Managers and team leaders should organize virtual team meetings, enable online informal interaction between team members, recognize their efforts and achievements of individual employees and provide support and guidance as needed.
- Flexible working hours
Organizations need to adopt a more flexible approach towards the work schedules for their work from home employees. This would help employees in better work-life balance and maximize their productivity by opting to work at hours that suit them the most.
Implementing work from home may pose certain challenges for organizations; however, if planned and managed well it can yield long term business benefits for the organizations as well as for the employees.