As the world is struck with the unprecedented pandemic, the workplace rules and best practices have all been shattered. The virus has accelerated the speed of change and has brought about a radical shift in the way things were perceived and executed.
The organizations have been flipped upside down. While the pandemic was galloping at an exponential speed, our corporate heroes were involved in cracking up the business continuity plans and making suitable arrangements for individuals and teams to have effective work from home. While earlier work from home was just an option given to a select few in very specific sectors. The unforeseen pandemic made it a new normal.
In the early 1970s, visionaries began to reimagine and reconstruct the dynamics between home and workplace. A new upsurge of technological innovation was forcing together the private and public domains that the Industrial Revolution had rent apart.
Teleworking was becoming the new trend with networked computers being used at the employee’s homes. This helped the employees to balance their work and personal lives as well.
In many countries across various sectors, a very small percentage of people were enjoying effective work from home experience and was considered a big incentive by others who got to work from home once in a while. Most of the IT companies had a fair percentage of people working remotely but never had they thought that they will see a time when 80-90 % of their workforce would be working remotely from home. COVID-19 and the associated guidelines to contain it even forced manufacturing sector employees for whom WFH or remote working was never an option to immediately start working from home .
Though the supply chains got hit due to the migration of laborers still most of the employees were able to transition seamlessly from working in an office to working from home. Never had we imagined that education institutes like schools, colleges could work remotely as well. We are seeing a paradigm shift in the way we work and this new trend is here to stay, it’s the new normal and we all must get accustomed to.
According to a survey conducted by an online learning platform. Udemy in March 2020, at least four in five working professionals are likely to work in a remote setup more often. They surveyed over 1,000 full-time employees in India.“It’s very possible that we see a different kind of workplace after the lockdown. Before we were only talking about the future of work but now we are actually living it,”Irwin Anand, MD Udemy India told Business Insider Click To Tweet
The VUCA world we all were talking about is what we are experiencing today. So we have made a shift from a traditional workplace to a VUCA workplace.
According to the 2020 remote work research, the survey revealed that working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has had only a 1% reduction in work productivity. And more than 40% of workers would prefer to work remotely full time in the future.
Many organizations that had to take a plunge from working in traditional workspaces to virtual workspaces have quoted that after initial hiccups their employees were able to manage a style of effective work from home without any major disruptions.
Working from home was the only option available to maintain the business continuity disrupted due to the pandemic. As per the results shown in various surveys, effective working from home could be as productive as working from the office, At times even more productive! But if not managed well, it can lead to a lot of chaos as many tasks need to be managed simultaneously.
Manging a kid’s tantrums before the online classes, cooking meals, helping spouse in daily chores and taking care of elderly parents could be taxing, therefore in order to keep up the productivity levels while doing and effective work from home, one must possess certain skills that help them remain focussed and productive even when working remotely.
Time management is the key to working effectively from home. With geographical boundaries shrinking and our dependence on technology was used for 2 fold benefits, One was to maintain the business continuity and the other was to keep people indoors in order to contain the virus.
Overnight people transitioned from working from the office to working from home. But a new challenge emerged,
This would slowly lead to burnout. Therefore it is advisable that in order to be more effective while working from home one would need to balance their time judiciously and have a mandatory downtime and stay away from work in order to recharge and rejuvenate.
Weekends should be kept as getaway days, where time should be spent with family or pursuing a long lost hobby which could be therapeutic and have a vital impact on productivity.
Another skill required to work effectively from home without any employee monitoring is to have a Growth Mindset. The pandemic has forced us to be confined to the four walls of our home, this could be a good way to contain the virus and protect our physical wellbeing, but could have some adverse effects on our mental health.
In order to avoid having any adverse issues impacting our mental health, we need to make sure we remain optimistic and need to move forward with a growth mindset. we need to head start with a highly developed sense of self-awareness and see failures as stepping stones to success while we navigate the uncharted terrains. We should keep learning new skills. Upskilling and reskilling should be the new mantra for our lives in order to beat the uncertain and volatile environment.
As per the oxford dictionary, Resilience means “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”; toughness. This is the new age skill we ought to have while working from home. With loads of pessimistic news floating around, it becomes imperative to maintain psychological resilience and develop coping strategies in the face of constant disruption.
Resilience in the remote world will help us cope with the unwanted stress caused by unavoidable technical glitches, inability to manage work-life balance, and the zoom fatigue. Thus, resilience becomes one of the most important skills to be processed by people working remotely in a time of crisis.
Effective communication is the key to success. The ability to know what to communicate and when to communicate is truly important in the virtual workplace. Employees working remotely are no longer going to have face to face or coffee table meetings. A successful remote worker should know how to communicate effectively.
The ability to use the correct medium and write concise messages is of utmost importance. Another major challenge faced by remote workers is the limitation to understand nonverbal cues while communicating on virtual platforms. Hence the focus should be on transparent and prompt communications to avoid any pitfalls.
Agility is the ability to move quickly and decisively with ease, It translates in our ability to adapt and stay calm and productive in uncertainties. In times of crisis where the environment is volatile and is changing at an exponential level, it becomes imperative for us to work with a high degree of agility. The employee working remotely should make sure he is able to collect the required information and analyze the information to leverage the opportunities attached to the same. The ability to use design thinking and problem solving could be the important tools to adapt to the ever-changing VUCA world.“Perfection is a fallacy that leads to over planning, procrastination, and failure to ship; agile is about focusing on delivering the best thing possible in a set time period”. Click To Tweet
With employees working remotely, performance evaluations have become more outcome focussed. The gap between the task completion and appreciation received for the same becomes huge. Therefore, in order to work effectively and be successful while working remotely, it is important that an employee identifies his or her own motivators and try to be intrinsically motivated rather than waiting for a pat on the back.
Working from home can be a tricky affair for those who lack self-discipline. This pandemic has forced us to multitask at the next level. In-ability to do so could result in chaos and stress both at the professional and personal front. Therefore self-control and self-discipline need to be practiced if working remotely. Some tips to develop self-discipline amongst remote workers could be.
“The virus could act as a game-changer for remote work. The coronavirus could be the catalyst that gets firms to adopt remote work policies in far greater numbers than we see now, even after the pandemic ends. This is an opportunity to essentially restructure organizations”,
says Prithwiraj Choudhury, a professor at Harvard Business School.
With the right focus and commitment from all sides, remote working will deliver practical working environments and potentially more engaged employees. We believe it’s the future of work.