Remote working was traditionally considered a privilege suitable for only specific roles and organisations, and usually with individual arrangements between employer and employee. This all changed when the COVID-19 pandemic upended lives and livelihoods, and businesses had no choice but to quickly adapt to this mode of work to survive.
In April 2020, a Gartner survey of HR leaders revealed that prior to the pandemic, 30 percent employees were working remotely at least part of the time, post-pandemic 41 percent of employees were likely to continue working remotely at least some of the time.
Shifting Mindsets to Remote and Hybrid Work
A positive outcome from this period was the realization that remote work is a viable option, thanks to technology. While most people are back at the office in the post-pandemic recovery era, there is a shift in how employees view work.
The Cisco Global Hybrid Work Study 2022 found that 78 percent of respondents believe hybrid and remote working has improved all aspects of well-being, with 62 percent of employees agreeing that their ability to work from anywhere impacts whether they remain at or leave a job.
However, while there are many benefits to remote working, there are also downsides to consider. For employees, these include possible lack of collaboration with teammates, lack of recognition, and inability to work efficiently because of disruptions at home or lack of proper infrastructure. For employers, there may be productivity issues, lack of employee engagement and the possibility of employees moonlighting for competitors.
A World Economic Forum report quotes a 2022 study by social media management platform which found, just over half of their respondents felt less connected to their colleagues and 45 percent believed career progression was harder for remote employees.
Another concern is to do with data security. Despite the surge in remote work, 41 percent of employees are employed by businesses that don’t offer business-approved mobile communication solutions. By depending on “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD), or devices that have not been approved by the organisation, businesses are exposed to security threats in addition to being inefficient.
Tech Tools for the Remote Workforce
When it comes to managing a hybrid or remote workforce, there are several tools and technologies that companies would need to invest in to ensure that employees are able to work seamlessly, and productively, across various platforms and locales.
• Video Conferencing Tools
Meetings are a crucial part of everyday work life. Utilising video conferencing solutions for real-time two-way or group communication can help in facilitating regular interactions among team members and mitigating the downsides to remote working. Not only can people attend from wherever they are working, but the ability to record calls, replay and share later is great for those who are unable to attend live discussions.
• Instant Messaging Tools & Chat Boards
Instant messaging applications have been in use for more than a decade now, but organisational chat boards, built exclusively for business use and which are linked to specific tasks and activities, are essential tools today, especially in hybrid workplaces. The Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey revealed that 44 percent of workers believe real-time communication over a centralised organisational platform is critical to keeping
teams connected and productive.
• Productivity Management Tools
One of the challenges of managing a remote workplace is tracking progress on tasks. Asking people to keep track of their own time can get messy, especially considering issues of accountability avoidance and a possible breach of trust between employer and employee. A simple and intelligent Task Management tool can be an incredible instrument
to manage these issues. People have the freedom to create their own tasks and loop in collaborators, which fosters a highly productive remote work environment.
• Digital Recruitment System
In a dynamic business environment, making the right hires quickly is imperative for success. A good recruitment automation platform not only digitalises the recruitment process, but also uses Artificial Intelligence to help companies make smart, intelligent and informed hiring decisions.
• Cloud-Based Business Apps – Software as a Service (SAAS)
Cloud-based apps not only allow all employees the same level of access anywhere and anytime, but, if subscribed on a SAAS model, can be a boon to a company’s cash flow. Instead of paying large costs of deployment for traditional business systems, companies now can pay relatively smaller payments on SAAS based app subscriptions.
• Virtual Private Network (VPN)
As more employees work outside of the office, cybersecurity becomes more of a worry, particularly if users are connecting via public or personal networks. VPNs allow employees secure remote access to an organisation’s internal network and data by establishing a secure tunnel between a user’s device and company data, encrypting everything exchanged in between.
With advances in technology and shifting attitudes, remote and hybrid arrangements are set to be a mainstay in the world of work from now into the future. By embracing the technological tools available today, and being open to trying new ways of working, employers and employees will not only survive, but also thrive in the post-pandemic digitalised world of work.
By Akhil Gupta, Talbotiq Technologies CEO and Founder