In the past few months, things have been rapidly evolving in Europe in the remote working space. We are now in the midst of lockdown and working from home is not just an option - but a necessity.
As Head of Europe for IR, I’ve seen the growing impact that COVID-19 is having not just in Europe but on the global economy. Remote working was already on the rise before this, but there have been some staggering changes in business operations strategies and leadership styles in this part of the world.
Our main goal during this crisis, is to create clarity and insight in a world that now primarily works through connected devices. To this end, and to support businesses globally who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, IR has leveraged it’s long standing partnership with Avaya to host a webinar, providing practical advice on how to maintain and improve business continuity, productivity and user experience through UC.
I joined Rick Hawkes, alliances specialist from Avaya in a recent webinar, to share some insights on what it’s like to manage a remote team effectively - and deploy practical strategies to support remote workers internationally.
With remote working now considered the ‘normal’ way to work, let’s look at some of the reasons why the numbers keep rising, challenges faced by organizations, and predictions about what it will be like after the crisis has ended.
Remote working – benefits to employers and employees
From a monetary perspective, businesses supporting their employees working from home for even half the time has the potential to save quite a lot of money right across the costs that a business might face. According to Global Workplace Analytics, it could equate to an average of $11,000 per employee.
Reduced real estate costs
Statistics show that employees around the globe are not at their desk 50 to 60 percent of the time, so adopting a remote working culture saves on real estate costs. I’ve seen this from personal experience recently, when deciding not to renew a lease on an office space in Germany. For many businesses, a decision like this allows money to be spent elsewhere and to plan different and more productive business strategies.
Being remote also reduces absenteeism. Employees allowed to work from home for personal reasons, such as childcare issues or commuting difficulties can still effectively work close to normal hours without having to take time off.
We’ve also seen an increase in productivity since the global remote workforce directive. Employees feel less anxious about long commutes, early starts and late finishes, and are able to manage their working day more efficiently. Most employees see it as a huge positive to be able to work remotely, and we’ve seen them thrive due to lower stress, fewer interruptions, reduced travel costs and increased motivation.
Interestingly, 36% of people would be willing to choose a pay cut (or not accept a pay rise) over not being able to work remotely.
The Digital Workforce – challenges for employers and employees
We’ve discussed increased productivity, and this must be considered a good thing from an employer’s point of view. But is remote working making people too productive and possibly risking burnouts by skipping breaks, starting earlier, working later at night? With conference calls scheduled at odd hours due to international time zone differences, many employees may find it more difficult to separate a work environment from a home environment.
On the opposite end of the productivity scale, some employers may feel uncomfortable having their employees working remotely. There’s a perception that they may not be working to capacity and are concerned about keeping tabs on those workers.
After COVID-19 – will we go back to ‘normal’?
Based on historical trends, for those who were new to remote work until the pandemic, it’s predicted that there will be a significant upswing in its adoption. Our best estimate is that we will see 25-30% of the workforce working at home on multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
Technology or policy?
Technology has certainly allowed this upsurge in remote working. However, organizations need to look at making changes in business continuity planning regarding policies. They need to build in the resilience required to allow remote working, and consider issues like keeping services running in cloud or on premise, security breaches, extreme weather, device interoperability, cyber-attack etc.
In a new remote working culture, according to Avaya, 11,000 organizations globally are supporting stay home policies. Within a context of 100 million users Avaya has helped 2 million people around the world to become remote workers, and there has been a staggering 2,100% jump in video traffic on Avaya spaces alone. So how will all this increasing infrastructure stay up and running?
Performance management tools can help organisations monitor, troubleshoot and optimize manage their communication and collaboration platforms. Real-time visibility across your entire ecosystem is critical to identifying and resolving problems, and preventing them from happening in the future, which will help ensure that you’re still providing the best possible experience while working remote.