The way we work is changing. Evolving technology is enabling organizations and workers to change how and where work is performed (see “Links to Additional Resources”). With the appearance of the COVID-19 virus and associated world-wide pandemic, this trend will accelerate significantly. Many organizations are telling their employees to work remotely to keep them safe, and to help the company remain productive. More importantly, to help reduce the growing tide of dangerous infections. The infection-chain has to be broken for everyone’s benefit. It’s a critical, necessary choice. And it’s not possible to simply “flip a switch” and make it happen seamlessly. There’s a big learning curve when it comes to understanding how to enable a productive remote work culture that meets the needs of the organization (productivity and profitability) and the employees (healthy work-life balance) who address the day-to-day tasks. Organizational leadership and staff have to acquire the culture and skill-sets that are required to do it successfully.
Our company has embraced the “work from home” culture starting in 2006. There are many reasons, but mostly it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s a small percentage of people who have started and continued their careers under remote work structures. The vast majority of us have had to commute to and from our places of work at some point in our careers. Some of us have had “brutal” commutes and have chosen to take on a different lifestyle and culture. We recognized early on that the expense, stress, and time spent going back-and-forth to work each day was significant. And it could be eliminated. It just takes self-discipline and being well-organized on the part of both management and remote workers. Logic Intelligence has made it work very well. And we’re proud that our organization has been able to embrace the remote work culture. Here’s why:
- It creates more opportunities to engage with our families and pursue non-work activities that we’re passionate about (i.e. learning new skills, contributing to our communities through charitable endeavors, etc.).
- It allows for a reasonable amount of work-time flexibility that enables parents and caregivers to see to the needs of their families when situations come up that simply cannot be addressed outside of normal work hours.
- It eliminates wear-and-tear on our various means of transportation.
- It’s good for the environment because we’re not spewing nasty chemicals into the atmosphere.
- It avoids torturous commute situations, thereby allowing workers to start work feeling fresh and uninhibited by commute stress. This can only enhance creativity, focus and productivity.
- It allows for meaningful “mental and physical breaks” during the day. Again, his enhances creativity and focus for many people by allowing them to disengage from work and engage with nature through exercise and/or meditative down-time. This can only result in a healthier, happier person. And we depend on our workforce. It’s to everyone’s benefit if we have a healthy, happy workforce.
- It reduces the likelihood of downtime due to the transmission of viral and biological infections. This is a much bigger matter than was understood prior to our current COVID-19 pandemic.
- It reduces organizational overhead by limiting or completely eliminating the need for office facilities and investments in on-premise equipment and technology. Keep in mind, there will be other expenses that will off-set some of the savings because the organization has to invest in infrastructure that supports the remote work concept. In our case, the reduced overhead allows us to be more competitive with respect to what we charge for our service offerings.
As has been previously stated, organizations can’t simply “flip a switch” and suddenly a healthy, productive remote-work culture springs up from nowhere. It has to be carefully constructed and maintained. Here’s some key aspects to consider:
- The organization has to provide a proper, secure infrastructure for collaborating. Technology is much better than it was back when we started our remote-work culture. That being said, the implemented technologies must “enable” productivity. It cannot “distract” from it.
- The remote worker must be self-disciplined and capable of working without direct, face-to-face supervision. And, the infrastructure must “gently” ensure that the worker is productively engaged in the tasks that need to be accomplished.
- The remote worker’s home office environment must isolate them from distractions that could inhibit their productivity. And when meeting with coworkers and customers, it must eliminate external noises and distractions that reduce the appearance of professionalism. If anything, remote workers and organizations that embrace this lifestyle must work harder to project a culture of professionalism.
- The infrastructure must enable collaboration between workers and teams. And that collaboration needs to ensure that nobody feels isolated and “on their own”.
- The organization must provide “social engagement” opportunities that adequately replace the face-to-face interactions that are found in traditional “on-site” work situations. This is particularly necessary for people who have personalities that depend on building close friendships with coworkers. We’re all unique. And some of us are very social by nature.
- Lastly. The organization and prospective remote workers have to understand that the dynamics of the remote work and onsite work lifestyles have pluses and minuses to each of them. They need to work together to create a relationship that meets the needs of the organization and worker without becoming a problem for everyone involved. And let’s face it. Some people are not psychologically capable of working remotely on a long-term basis. It’s key to identify those who will likely flourish in a remote work culture. And those who won’t.
There’s been a major shift in how work is performed in our current age. Now it’s gone from being an “option” to becoming an absolute “necessity”. One way or another, a large percentage of our work culture is being forced to take steps toward embracing the concept of working remotely. Enabling it can’t be an afterthought. We’re extremely proud that we’ve been successful in doing it. And we don’t see any reason to go back. Particularly not at this point in history.