To say 2020 has been a year like any other would not be an understatement. Far from it. Over 210 countries have been affected by COVID-19, impacting us all in ways we couldn’t have imagined. In our working worlds, one of the biggest changes has been to how and where we work. Many haven’t been in an office since March, and remote working has become the new normal.
And while the global pandemic may or may not have reached its peak, remote working looks very much like it’s here to stay. According to 451 research, 67% of businesses anticipate their remote work policies continuing in the long term. For some, this is the dawn of a new age of work flexibility, productivity, and work-life balance. For others, the benefits are less clear. But either way, businesses will have to continue enabling effective remote working productivity for some time to come.
Remote working: A blessing or a curse?
Remote working has always been a controversial topic. Some workers relish the chance to get out of the house and have in-person chats and meetings with colleagues in the office or on the job site. Others find the demands and costs of traveling, as well as the restrictions of the 9-5 office structure unnecessarily prohibitive.
Some find themselves more productive in the workplace, others find the office presents too many distractions. Both camps make good points. The research report by 451 research suggests that as many as 47% of employees feel their performance at work has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, whereas 23% feel a positive impact. Remote working, like most things in life, has upsides and downsides.
A balanced approach to remote work
There are pros and cons to remote working for employers too. Business owners have traditionally been more skeptical about remote work than their employees, but since the pandemic, this has begun to change. Now, employers are finding that, since many of their staff can maintain remote working productivity, it’s not always necessary to have everyone in the office at one time. And if employees don’t need to be in the office all the time, that means less money has to be dedicated to expensive office space.
Remote working isn’t for everybody all the time. But a certain amount of remote working, some of the time certainly can help improve productivity. And moving forward, it’s clear that businesses are anticipating a period of much more flexible working conditions than before. The challenge is to ensure they can capitalize on the benefits and reduce the drawbacks.
Achieving effective remote working productivity
Making remote working effective in the long term is a balancing act. Too much collaboration and employees won’t have time to do their work, too little and they won’t have the right information. It’s important, therefore, to think carefully about how remote working processes are going to be implemented. More importantly, it’s important to be flexible, and take into account that different people work in different ways. Here are a few ways that employers can achieve this:
1. The right meetings at the right time
For people to work, they need to talk. This is a vital part of calibrating priorities, sharing information, and maintaining a company culture when people aren’t in the same room. But too much collaboration can exhaust people and mean they don’t have enough time for work. So, avoid meetings for the sake of meetings, and ensure the contact you do have is short, structured and to the point.
2. Proactively sharing information
In the office, it’s easy for people to have quick informal chats over the coffee machine about particular projects or tasks. But when working remotely, it can be more difficult to share information. In this case, it’s even more important that people approach their work proactively; sharing documents, messages, and other information as standard, rather than on a need to know basis. This ensures that people always have the knowledge they need to effectively complete their tasks.
3. Effective workflow management
Businesses rely on the same workflows and processes when working remotely as they do in the office. But it can be harder to ensure these processes move smoothly when people aren’t in the same room. For that reason, automating common processes like vacation requests, equipment provisioning, and expense filing can help boost productivity and collaboration when working off-site.
Taking these points into account, employers can start to build a sustainable settlement that satisfies both advocates and skeptics of remote working.
How to empower remote workers with technology
To achieve effective remote working productivity, employees need to be empowered to do their best work. Naturally, much of this requires having the right technology. Whether they’re in the office or at home, if workers are swamped with manual tasks and spending all their time checking messages, they won’t have the tools they need to effectively do their jobs. Workflow automation can help with this, by:
- Eliminating repetitive, manual, and unnecessary tasks from people’s schedules
- Making it easier to save and share the right information into the right place
- Making processes faster, smoother, and more efficient
- Automating common tasks like signoffs, contract filing, and data entry
With the right technology, remote working can be simple, productive. and sustainable for everybody involved.
At Nintex, our workflow automation software is helping companies around the world enable remote working productivity. Check out our recent webinar for great real-life examples of successful remote digital transformation in action. Alternatively, if you’re ready to get started with Nintex, start your free trial today.