Robust policies keep remote workers on track

30 March 2020
As much of the region shifts to working at home, Meetupcall's Simon Moxon says many businesses are surprised by the boost in productivity that remote working can lead to

It is perhaps not surprising there has been an increasing global shift to remote working in recent weeks, as businesses tackle the unforeseen challenges facing them.

In light of Covid-19 and the economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, businesses in the UAE and around the world are embracing telenetworking technology to eliminate unnecessary travel and social interaction, prioritising the safety of their employees, clients and wider communities over face-to-face meetings.

The first wave of employees working remotely were parents, due to the closure of education institutions

The first wave of employees working remotely were parents, due to the closure of education institutions. This allowed some businesses to adjust to their teams working from home in phases, easing into the change with minimal disruption to business operations.

We have seen a 300 per cent increase in global enquiries with a 500 per cent increase in new subscriptions in the UAE since the outbreak of the pandemic, demonstrating that many organisations are switching to more flexible working conditions out of necessity.

Forced to change

Remote working is not new. However, those businesses that had been exploring, but had not yet committed to the concept, have been forced to accelerate their plans and implement relevant work from home policies and procedures.

More conservative industries, such as banking and legal firms, have long been rooted in traditional office-based working, so this transition has in some cases been very challenging. However, industries such as technology, marketing agencies and sales organisations have been reaping the benefits of hot-desking and remote working for quite some time and have proven to be adaptable as we start to work differently.

There is the worry that work will not get done if people are not physically sat in the office

When we speak to business owners and managers, a widely mentioned concern is trust. There is the worry that work will not get done if people are not physically sat in the office.

This lack of confidence in employees is one of the most commonly reported reasons why businesses have been reluctant to implement remote and flexible working policies.

The absence of visibility of employee workflows and routine is a severe cause for concern. A recent Gartner survey found that only 56 per cent of managers allowed employees to work remotely even when a flexible working policy is in place.

However, we often remind businesses that trust is one of the pillars of success. As we navigate these uncertain times, many businesses do not have a choice but to trust their teams, with all employees working remotely, whether they are unwell or exercising social distancing.

This is an opportunity for businesses to develop or refine their remote working policies and of course increase the health and safety of their employees as they are able to avoid unnecessary contact with others.

Businesses must also review HR policies, as long periods of isolation can have a significant impact on the mental health of employees

In addition to the operational structures required to ensure the successful transition to remote working, businesses must also review HR policies, as long periods of isolation can have a significant impact on the mental health of employees.

Ensuring there are strategic support systems in place to help those who may be in self isolation, assisting a vulnerable relative or living alone is critical.

The change in routine for many can be a shock to the system, especially for employees who have become accustomed to a traditional office environment and steady rate of social interaction.

A 2019 report by Buffer states 19 per cent of remote workers struggle with loneliness. Communicating openly and often should be a priority in order to maintain relationships with coworkers and managers. This could be through teleconferencing, video conferencing or an old fashioned phone call.

Many of our customers are surprised by how their businesses can thrive without the whole team in the same place at the same.

Furthermore, employees working remotely report reduced stress levels and higher productivity rates.

We have observed that when people have total control of their environment, they are less prone to distractions from colleagues, resulting in increased efficiencies and increased output in the same or less time

In industries where teams require extended periods of uninterrupted time to prepare documents, for example, we have observed that when people have total control of their environment, they are less prone to distractions from colleagues, resulting in increased efficiencies and increased output in the same or less time.

With robust procedures and employee support systems in place, businesses can and should embrace the remote working opportunity we have been presented with.


About the author

Simon Moxon is the founder and CEO of Meetupcall

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