Before the COVID pandemic started there were a few progressive employers that offered flexible working arrangements. Some employees were able to work remotely, but clearly working from home and flexible working arrangements were not the norm. Many companies in the technology sector made the office environment more informal and started providing perks. Food and beverages, recreation areas with gaming tables like pool, ping-pong, foosball, corporate swag and flexible seating arrangements became almost mandatory to attract the best and the brightest employees. As a result, the office environment was perceived to be more attractive, collaborative and giving employees the space to let their creative juices flow.
The pandemic changed all that in a flash. Stay at home notices, quarantines, work from home became the new protocol and the employees adapted very well.
Some may argue, that working from home only has positives. Time saved on the commute was largely redirected to either work, taking care of the family or running personal errands but overall, employees worked longer hours and more work got done. Online polls indicate that employees were working longer hours outside office hours. From an employers perspective, remote working has the potential to reduce office rents and increase margins on lease contract renewals. Most businesses would shave off between 20-50% of their current business space leased. This is all good.
There are still some employers operating with a traditional mindset. The assumption is if you are not in the office, then you are not working because “I cannot see you working”. Perhaps it is time to let go of such beliefs. Employers need to shift their mindset from equating hours in the office to productivity. Hours spent in the office is an input measure. Output based metrics, like objectives achieved, are better suited to evaluate whether their employees are performing to expectations. Adapting evaluation criteria are likely to generate outsized benefits to your teams.
Some of the traditional bosses from the older generation are unfamiliar with the latest technologies available for collaboration. These are the folks that need to learn more about the trends in remote working. Attending training courses can be beneficial to develop their own skills and expand their mindsets.
Many input factors required for performing such roles like (accounting, finance, customer service, recruiting, human resources etc. ) are available online or on demand anywhere with advancing technology. Hard copy documents have largely been replaced with electronic files or PDFs. Banks, finance companies and most organizations have made delivery of invoices, statements, and notices available via email or other online means. In fact, there are prompts now to encourage you to sign up for digital statements. Some organizations move you to e-statements as a default and you have to then request for paper statements.
Front line workers like receptionists, cashiers, or bank tellers, are examples of roles not suited to remote working. These employees need to be present in their office to handle walk in customers. For knowledge workers, the need to physically be present in the office has almost disappeared. It is even more ironical that some of the employees that are working on productivity, efficiency and technology improvement programs are required to be physically present in the office. There certainly will be instances where face to face collaboration is important and even required. However, such occasions may perhaps be few and far between. For most situations, working remotely, with collaboration tools like zoom, google meet or other such meeting solutions work extremely well.
The trust factor
Finally, trust plays a huge role in this equation. Employers need to trust their employees more. Trust is the foundation of any good relationship. Leadership style plays a huge role in how employees react to a given challenge. Employees often overperform when their managers listen to their team members and create an open and trusting environment. Managers that receive and provide relevant feedback, clear roadblocks and provide the freedom to employees to make decisions and own the deliverables often see their projects complete successfully.
Advisors and Part-time Professionals
Employees often develop tunnel vision when they are overloaded with work. Lack of time or resources impede their ability to generate effective solutions. Remote and Part-time professionals can help existing teams with missing expertise or skillsets. Hiring experienced remote or part-time contractors can be extremely beneficial. Contractors, advisors, part-time professional resources bring in a fresh new perspective from the outside. This perspective can help existing employees to think outside the box, develop critical skill-sets or help to relieve time-sensitive pressures. Ezee Pte. Ltd. works with starts-up and SMEs to provide CFO-on-Demand, Part-time CFO, Management Advisory and Consulting services to help challenges companies may be facing with their Finance function. Reach out to us for a free no-obligation discussion to start finding solutions to your problems.