In America and in most parts of the world, it’s no longer business as usual as large and small corporations are trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus, stated Herb Weisbaum of NBC News Better, a health and wellness news platform. Nowadays, these companies are allowing their employees to work remotely, if possible.
In a survey done by online marketing firm GetResponse involving 2,500 people nationwide, 25% of Millennials said they like remote working as a perk versus 25.94% of Gen Xers and 22.38% of Boomers, reported Greg Nichols of ZDNet, a tech news site. However, 15.22% of Millennials thought that remote work is a detraction versus 11.15% of Gen Xers and 10.81% of Boomers. Further, 20.04% of Gen Xers believed remote work is very important unlike 19.68% of Boomers and 16.83% of Millennials.
Despite the survey’s small sample size, Nichols pointed out that work tensions may arise if remote work mandates are likely to persist for more than a couple of weeks. Employers should treat broad work from home mandates with sensitivity.
Statistics on Remote Work
Commissioned by Zapier and conducted online by The Harris Poll, the Remote Work Report gathered 880 knowledge workers and found that women (24%) were more likely than men (17%) to move jobs to secure flexible schedules, cited Nigel Davies of business news website Forbes. Knowledge workers are employees who primarily work in professional settings using computers.
95% of these knowledge workers wanted to work remotely, but 31% were currently employed in companies that don’t allow this alternative. Of these, 74% were willing to hand in their notice to work for a firm that allows them to work remotely. The most common reasons cited by the knowledge workers were saving money (48%) and spending more time with family (44%). 29% believed remote work would make a difference to their mental health and 23% were motivated by environmental sustainability, and 18% wanted to be present for their pets.
Video conferencing firm Owl Labs gathered 1,200 US workers between 22 to 65 years old for its 2019 State of Remote Work and found that 62% work remotely at least part of the time (versus 38% of on-site workers), mentioned Brit Morse of INC, a magazine. The respondents decided to work remotely due to work-life balance (91%), increased productivity/better focus (79%), less stress (78%), and to avoid a commute (78%).
When asked how frequently all respondents work remotely, 30% said they work remotely full-time and 38% said they never work remotely. 11% said they do so at least once per week, 8% said less than once per month, 7% said at least three times a week, and 6% said at least once a month.
83% of remote workers agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them happier compared to on-site workers (81%). 84% of remote workers agreed that working remotely would make them feel more trusted at work unlike 79% of on-site workers.
How to Work From Home the Right Way
Whether there’s a coronavirus outbreak or not, it is recommended to stay in touch with your superior and to know what is expected of you, said Bryan Lufkin of British news channel BBC. “Ask [your manager] if they don’t mind having a 10-minute call to kick off the day and wrap up the day."
"Often times, managers just haven’t thought of it,” Barbara Larson, a professor of management at Northeastern University in Boston who studies remote working. Sara Sutton, CEO and founder of FlexJobs, noted that the best remote workers will reach to their colleagues and managers using a variety of tools. These can range from Zoom to Slack.
2. Stick With Your Company’s Preferred Communication Tools
What if your company has its own officially approved communication tools? Stick to them and don’t use any other app you have on your device. Chester Wisniewski, a principal research scientist at Sophos, said companies usually have a preferred chat platform they use to manage their teams. Hence, employees should use a company-preferred platform as the information you share with your colleagues can be protected.
3. Treat It Like A Real Job
Don’t have a home office? Try to create an ad hoc or find any space that is used exclusively for work. Sutton warned that an ill-equipped home office can temporarily diminish productivity levels when people start working remotely. To bolster productivity levels, you can place your computer on a desk and sit upright, akin to how you would work at your office desk.
You should also be prepared to inform your loved ones that you’re “at work.” Kristen Shockley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, suggested, “Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand: ‘When the door is closed, pretend I’m not there.’”
Don’t forget to unplug from your job. Opt for “psychological segues” like having a 20-minute coffee drink in the morning or exercising after work to open and conclude your day, recommended Shockley.
4. Avoid Isolating Yourself (If You Can)
Transitioning from an office to a home environment may be a struggle for some employees. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, it remains unclear how long people will be working remotely. Parents may face difficulties working if there are kids at home due to school closures. This situation entails close communication with managers who will need to understand the situation from the parents’ shoes.
Bonding with colleagues can reduce feelings of isolation, albeit in unconventional and peculiar ways. Sutton said, “Celebrate birthdays, give public praise for goals reached and projects completed.” It’s going to feel weird praising your colleagues online; however, it is also important for you and your co-workers to start casual conversations and “water cooler” chat.
5. Stay Safe
Stay safe, not just from the coronavirus but also from hackers and scammers. As more people work from home, you can be a potential target of malicious agents and other security threats. Don’t click links or open attachments unless you know (and confirm) the sender’s identity, advised Chairman of CyberScout Adam Levin.
Even if you know the sender, it is possible that they unintentionally clicked the wrong link and sent you malware. Be wary of emails related to your job responsibilities. If the sender asks you to send money or sign a contract— tasks that your boss might usually ask you to perform—contact your superior and verify those instructions. The email could be from a hacker who managed to access your corporate email.
Remote work may not be viable in some industries. Therefore, employers should be prepared to offer compensation if their employees cannot work during the outbreak. Equipment such as office computers can also be brought home, if possible. Whether you are working remotely or not, remember to stay safe and healthy!