Telecommuting, otherwise commonly known as work-from-home, has emerged as the corporate savior in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While some leaders – both in private and public sectors – have made work-from-home a natural part of their workplace culture for years, most business leaders scoff at the very idea of work-from-home. Prejudices against telecommuting included loss of productivity and effectiveness, despite ample evidence stating otherwise.
The government-imposed restrictions on public movement have shaken the corporate American from its slumber and compelled it to give remote working a fighting chance.
An Opportunity Unlike Any Other
According to an international survey conducted by Buffer, 99% of the surveyed employees prefer work-from-home at least sometime over the year.
The 3 most significant benefits for the employees, in their order of priority, include:
· Flexible schedule
· Ability to work from any location
· More quality time with family
It’s no surprise that telecommuting actually improved productivity during the pandemic. More importantly, telecommuting is firing up a massive shift away from big cities, thereby exploring and unlocking the latent economic potential of “inner”, smaller cities.
Telecommuting is more productive, more inclusive, and gives the business a competitive edge by helping them access global talent and skills.
For the skeptical leaders, this is a wakeup call. For the more forward-thinking leaders, this is a vindication of their approach to workforce management.
Telecommuting offers tremendous benefits to both workforce and the organizations. Smart leaders can use the opportunities offered by these benefits to drive collaboration, continuous improvement, and productivity. Here’s how:
Abandon Control. Inspire Ownership.
Decentralization of control is critical for inspiring the feeling of project ownership among the employees. You can’t force people to believe something that is in contravention to their own experience or knowledge.
It would be more effective to bring together people who ‘genuinely want’ to work on a project, an idea, or a solution. When employees volunteer to work on a problem, they are invested in it. They work with each other smoothly to arrive at a solution and there’s usually less friction. This not only drives productivity but also the quality of products and services customers receive, and ultimately, contributing to the bottom line for companies.
More and Better Solutions
The office setup doesn’t always bring out the best in people. For instance, meetings tend to bring out ideas from the loudest or the boldest, not always the smartest. So, inviting solutions to business challenges individually from the remote workforce ensures that all ideas are given their due attention.
Most importantly, nurturing participation will drive all stakeholders to learn new skills, capabilities, and knowledge to solve the problem at hand. The best part? Shy, introverted people will not be afraid of the risks of failure and drive themselves to demonstrate their competence in their fields. They will push themselves to improve continuously and grow with the changing organizational objectives.
Nurture People Connections
Introverts take their time to connect with people. It’s just how it is. In the corporate setup, it may be best to give them the room they need to build office relationships at their own pace.
In the public sector, things are vastly different. A recent study has some illuminating insights to share, one of which is that teleworking public servants felt professional isolation and even less organizational commitment.
The same is observed in the private sector too. To combat this, some organizations have created alternate personal touchpoints. For instance, one organization is using Slack channels for the sole purpose of encouraging ‘watercooler’ talk to boost morale. Time and again, multiple studies have reinforced the belief that people connections are critical for frictionless collaborations. The best thing about digitized personal connections is that every employee can connect and engage in conversations when they are in their best mind space. This nurtures healthy communication and superior collaboration.
The terrific benefits offered by telecommuting have made it the choice of an entire generation of the workforce. Future-thinking leaders can utilize this opportunity to leverage those benefits and drive collaboration and continuous improvement among their employees.
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