One of the greatest gifts to come from the pandemic, in my personal view, was to disprove the myth that mass-scale remote working does not work and leads to a drop in productivity. If anything, the COVID 19 lockdown saw over 40% of the global workforce be locked and working from home. Working from home, one must have an office job that allows you to be remotely connected. The concept of working from home is not new, and as the world comes out of the lockdown, we can, if required, be locked up at home and work and keep our children. If we look initially at what the data tells us about working from home and success.
The Australian Productivity Commission noted in their paper Working from Home that the potential to work from home is associated with higher levels of education and higher incomes, and full-time employment. The 2016 census data showed that approximately 35% of workers had jobs amenable to working from home. Technology and the automation of mundane everyday tasks are driving massive gains in productivity for organisations. Remote is not a new concept. There are many companies in specific industries where remote working is commonplace and is actively encouraged; however, this trend has increased significantly since the COVID pandemic. The Families in Australia Survey: Towards COVID Normal showed that among the employee surveyed, 67% were always or primarily working from home compared to 42% pre-COVID.
As the COVID restrictions decrease, organisations are battling the right mix of central and remote working arrangements. Managers and leaders are struggling with how to best determine preferences for remote working fairly and equitably. Managing inclusive and diverse organisations means that Managers have to consider a vast array of individual circumstances to create a sense of inclusion and not exclusion when it comes to how organisations develop work-from-home policies for their workers. Working parents with young children are an obvious choice for opting to stay at home. Managers are left with the dilemma as to whether they make blanket applications for everyone, or are specific considerations such as mental wellbeing individual preference vital considerations. How are the needs of the business balanced when preferences impinge on the needs of the organisation?
While technology and meeting online via Teams, Zoom, and other video conferencing media are now the norm. There are instances where organisations have not fully evolved. There remains a need to centralise some aspects of the business. Where the needs for centralisation collide with the individual preferences for remote working managers and leaders will face considerable challenges.
The old arguments for centralisation have now been disproved, and employees have demonstrated high levels of trust and increased productivity while remote working.
The policy decisions and actions made by organisations and leaders alike will impact either positively or negatively on retention, attraction, and their employer brand.
Written by Christine Mudavanhu
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