By Karen Bachmann 3rd April, 2020
After only a few weeks of being banished from the office, many companies are already seeing staff are remaining productive with the support of software and processes that keep them connected. It's no surprise then, that thoughts are now turning to more permanent arrangements such as worker rotation schedules and remote working.
While the benefits for the company include reduced overheads and capital investment in office space, the benefits for workers need to be carefully considered by managers who are core to the decisions to make such dramatic changes to the way we have traditionally operated. To many, the switch to working from home is fairly straight forward, with a few checks on health and safety done there is an assumption that most people will make the transition easily. Afterall, you are simply working from home.
As industry has become more globalised the workforce has become more scattered and there are indeed many industries that have managed a workforce that is largely based outside of a core office environment. Indeed there are many countries, such as Australia where work has had to be conducted across vast distances and done 'remotely'. First and foremost, the differences between remote working and working from home need to be understood and carefully considered, in order to ensure workers are adequately prepared and supported.
Both remote working and working from home are popular workplace trends that result in tangible benefits for both individuals and your team. In fact, there are enormous benefits for your company as well, especially when you think about the ability to add talented team members, regardless of their locations. There's a problem, however and it's critical. As we have all begun to embrace 'working from home', we have slowly but surely discovered it's not all it's cracked up to be. That's because working from home and remote working aren't the same.
So what's the difference? In essence, one is a benefit, while the other is a way of working and it's an extremely important distinction that deserves some attention.
When you work from home, you might bring your work laptop home and set it up on the kitchen table or at your desk. Generally, it represents a change from your normal routine and your normal pace of work, which can be a very good thing once in a while. You still have the framework and structure of your office and the people who work there adjust their work given your absence, but you'll be back in the office soon. It's temporary.
Also, no one forgets to include you on an email just because you worked from home yesterday. You still have an office right over there, and you and your colleagues know that you'll be back tomorrow, if they need to see you about something today. The same isn't always true when you work remotely.
Remote working is an entirely different approach to getting things done. Everything about the remote work environment is different from that of your office, where team members have a desk and workspace provided by your company. In fact it's so fundamentally different that it requires a different set of abilities, resources and skills. It requires a self-starting attitude and sharply focused levels of time management skills. It also requires a strong proactive approach to communication and an almost hyper-focus on connecting with team members since there's not the usual informal moments that remind you what you wanted to see Dave about when you run into him making a cuppa in the kitchen.
In addition to this, you are required to create your own work environment. This can have it's benefits since you can establish your space so it works best for you. However, at the same time, you don't have the safety of an office, or cubicle, or desk to land at when you have to hunker down and get things done. Unless of course, you create it yourself.
Remote working brings a lot of great 'office perks' as long as you're willing to make your own avocado toast or Cafe Late. Yet the truth is, most of us work twice as hard at home because we fear being caught away from our desk and the accusations of not being productive. Oh, and there's life and all of the other things that happen during the day, like family members who forget, just because you're there, that you're actually working.
You need the right tools, attitudes and approaches along with and some good productivity tips if you are making the move from 'working from home' to 'working remotely'.
If you're a manager or planning to move your workforce to remote working, these elements need to be carefully considered in order to preserve the productivity of your workforce as well as their mental health. It can be an incredible way of working. It's just different. So let's stop talking about and approaching them as if they're the same.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with someone you know could benefit from this information. Thanks!