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Coronavirus | Remote/Virtual Working- The Future of Business

The global spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 has drastically impacted the world socially and economically. Throughout the world, countries have enforced social distancing and lockdown measures, forcing businesses to close their office doors and to rethink and strategize their business models to ensure that their businesses can still survive during and after the pandemic. A key factor in ensuring a business can survive, is through remote/virtual working.

Currently, remote/virtual working is not a new concept to the world, over the past couple of years, research and studies have been done by Cornell University’s Centre of Advanced Human Resources, showcasing that over nine Fortune 500 companies, on average have 50% of their employees working remotely. These companies include IBM, General Mills, CitiGroup, Cisco Systems and more. So, what does the future of business look like in light of the coronavirus pandemic?

Most certainly, remote/virtual working will become more popular and evident across most companies in the future. During social distancing measures and nationwide lockdowns, businesses have the opportunity to see how well it can function and perform via remote working with all of its employees. However, with remote working, there are two factors involved, trust and responsibility. For employers, offering remote working options for employees means that those that own and run the business are putting a massive amount of trust into their employees, trusting that they still provide the same quality and efficiency of work that would have been doing in their office environments. For employees, remote working takes on a larger responsibility, communication and quality of work is priority and ultimately, due to your newfound independency, it is your responsibility as an individual employee to showcase that you are capable of working in these conditions in order to avoid losing your job.

As in employee, how can I successfully work remotely?

It is important to remember that when working remotely/virtually, the biggest change you will experience is in the environment in which you do you work. Therefore, it is important to remember the following factors:

  • Create a schedule- include the hours you work from and when you take breaks. This will help get you into the rhythm of things.
  • Create a nice home office/ desk environment- make sure it is in a place where you will not get distracted by various things, ensure there is has ample amount of natural light surrounding it and remember to make it your own! It’s your environment, let it motivate you!
  • Track your progress- sometimes family/friends distract us, we have things to clean, meals to make etc. So, make sure you track your progress and still meet deadlines daily, the beauty from working from home is you have more time on your hands.
  • Effective Communication- make sure you reply to company emails timely and attend video group chats with your colleagues and superiors to show that you are still actively involved in the company and its culture. Talk with your colleagues daily even privately to motivate each other and not feel alone.
  • Let Everyone Know- if you live with family or friends let them know that you are working from home in order to avoid unnecessary distractions and to ensure that your work time is respected by others around you.
  • Still take care of yourself/appearance- of course the one factor with working from home is you don’t have to dress up every day for work, if you hair is unbrushed or you are doing work in sweatpants and a t-shirt, it doesn’t matter, as long as you are still working effectively. However, do not bring yourself down, do not let yourself go, still take care of your appearance as this will help with your morale and confidence.

NOTE: If you do not have an uncapped wifi plan or fibre, it is then a priority to make sure you upgrade or change your plan, as this is very important in remote working, without it, you cannot work.

As an employer, what must I consider when hiring for remote/virtual positions?

For many businesses, the key to success lies in hiring remote employees. By hiring virtual employees, companies can enjoy increased productivity, expanded talent pools, more loyal employees, and reduced overhead costs. However, whether transitioning some employees to work remotely or looking to hire for remote positions these are some key factors to take into consideration:

  • Cultural Fit- even though the employee will be working from outside of the office environment, they will still be communicating and interacting with other employees virtually and still be a representation of your brand. Therefore, still pick candidates that you feel fit the company’s culture and will add value to you team above the requirements and qualifications met.
  • Discover their intentions- for many people, working from home is a better suited for them, whilst others might look into it to decrease their workload and responsibilities. The best employees for remote working are those that are happy do it and understand the responsibility that comes with it. Ask candidates their intentions and why they would like to change to remote working etc.
  • Ask the right questions- getting to know the employee, their personality and their daily habits will help identify if they will be a good candidate for your business for remote working. Asking them how they handle working in a team and the initiatives they have taken to ensure proper communication and collaboration on their own is a vitally important. Honesty is a key factor.
  • Technology- in order to work remotely an employee needs to have an uncapped wifi/fibre system already placed within their household. Most companies do contribute to paying the employee for the use of their wifi system at home but to ensure that an employee will be able to work from home even without payment for this, employers need make sure their remote employees are covered independently.

As of now, it is uncertain when normal life will go back to the way it was. For business owners, this is a time to evaluate the structure of your business and how it can still perform successfully and for employees, this is a time to take control of your job, contribute 110% and adapt accordingly. Unfortunately for some people, they have experienced retrenchment during such a difficult time, but that does not mean that there are no opportunities out there for you to still make a living during this pandemic and after. As remote/virtual work begins to become more available, this also brings new opportunities for current and new employees to venture into.

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