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Coronavirus: Can We Embrace Remote Working As The Future Of Work?

Updated: Mar 31

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Since the Coronavirus outbreak, parts of Asia have been struggling to conduct business as normal. As the virus spreads, there’s a risk that the economies of the western world will be impacted. The dip in the U.S. stock market last week was just the latest indication that we need to continue business as usual in the face of adversity. International companies and large technology companies that are already offering remote working options will see little to no disruption to their businesses. As the virus continues to spread, even smaller and medium-sized companies realize the importance of offering remote working options to their employees.

In the western world, even with the hype of remote working, most of us are still used to clocking in 9 to 5 at our day jobs. Commuting to work, no matter how inconvenient is a part of our routine. Our morning stopover at our favorite coffee shop and our after work stopover at a local bar are all a part of this routine. When this routine is disrupted, it can feel unsettling.

Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation. Mahatma Gandhi

When Twitter’s Jack Dorsey announced yesterday that his company’s embracing remote working, everyone started to talk about “remote working” as a real option for many businesses going forward.

Today In: AI

The future of our work-place can be found in our living rooms and at the corner office in our houses. Imagine the short commute to your office five steps away.

But, remote working is not without its issues.

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In our future workplace, if we migrate to a model with more people working remotely, we will have to deal with a new set of problems and costs.

Thinking and planning for that now will allow both management and employees to adopt the right mindset.

Remote Working Advantages

Remote working can yield a set of benefits for both the employee and the employer. Remote employees often report flexibility, focus, and no commute as the biggest benefits of working from home. In other words, productivity and work-life balance are both improved with the ability to work from home. Remote employees who are parents can arrange their schedule to pick up their children from school. Remote programmers often report little to no distraction while staying in their flow of programming.

For employers, remote working has enabled open office work environments that promote discussion and conversation. As employers pay less for office space, they are paying more for cybersecurity and business continuity infrastructure. Businesses that have robust remote working plans for their employees often have a better handle on their cybersecurity needs.

Remote Working Disadvantages

Remote working is not the best option for many businesses. But, for some businesses, arguably a large part of their workforce can work remotely as a part of business continuity planning. For managers who enjoy face to face interactions with their employees, there’s a transition period to accommodating remote working employees.

Trust and communication are two of the biggest areas of challenge for companies as more people work remotely. Businesses have to trust that their remote employees will do their jobs. Employees have to establish communication boundaries with their employees. Employees often have more responsibility in managing their managers as clients of their work. This includes setting the right expectation of quality and time.

Many remote workers report a sense of alienation from a lack of social interaction. Even with frequent video calls, remote workers can feel like they are passed up for promotions and missing important events at work. Blurred lines between work and home life can lead to a sense of working all the time if not managed properly. At the same time, to reap the rewards of focus and lack of distraction, the employees have to exercise self-discipline.

For many employers, cybersecurity is also a concern when employees work remotely. Conversely, many companies use the opportunity of accommodating remote employees to figure out the company’s business continuity and cybersecurity needs.

How Innovations Can Help

Company productivity applications and time management systems using artificial intelligence can help managers and employees manage their time away from the office. Incident reporting systems are also using AI to find issues to solve before they are reported.

Tele-robots that can be operated remotely to perform many jobs on-site can potentially unleash a new wave of employees to work remotely.

AI-enabled transcription software allows more productivity around remote meetings.

More Life Style Choices and Free Time

As employers slowly migrate to a working model in our future of work that includes sizable portions of their employees working remotely, employees will find more time freed up to spend with their families.

More of us will have the freedom to travel while working at the same time. Our decisions around how we spend our free time will become just as important as the decisions that we make in our work-place.

As most of us continue to struggle with overwork, all of this change maybe just what we need to love our jobs again.

Conclusion

Remote working is not the right option for everyone. It can be the option for business continuity planning. For companies that thrive on dynamic workplace communications, remote working will often present challenges. If the future of work will entail a large percentage of our work force to work remotely, then slowly we will have to figure out solutions to the challenges of working remotely.


Forbes- Jun Wu

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