The first half of 2020 forced many companies to take the leap into the remote workforce as they sent employees home during the pandemic lockdown. And for many, remote work is a long-term or even permanent change.
We’re going to take a look at two facets of remote work – who is going to oversee those remote workers and then how are they going to be overseen.
Now that some or all of your workforce is at home, who ensures all of those people spread out all over your city, region or maybe even the country have the necessary tools, benefits and work environment to be successful? Hiring a Head of Remote Work, or someone who gives support to those remote employees might be the next step for your company.
There are so many things to consider when it comes to remote employees from their personal workspaces to travel and company culture. Are benefits for onsite workers and remote workers comparable? How are remote employees going to feel a sense of belonging and appreciation when it isn’t as easy to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday or grab a cup of coffee in the breakroom? There can be a sense of disconnect and potentially a lack of loyalty to a company if there isn’t someone there to make sure that each person doesn’t feel like a valued member of the team.
Additionally, there needs to be someone who can determine if the physical needs of the remote environment are being met. Do employees have all of the necessary tools or office supplies? How are managers going to manage a potentially hybrid-remote team when half are in the office and half are at home?
There are so many different things that companies need to consider when having all or part of a department or workforce working remote longer-term. Hiring someone to manage all of these nuances and policies could set you up for success.
There has been some industry discussion on how companies remain productive amid the forced shift to working from home. One source, Business Insider, predicts 80% of Fortune 500 companies will expand their employee-monitoring capabilities by the end of 2020.
One concern some employers have with remote work is whether their employees will be productive enough in a remote environment to get the job done. If you can’t see your employees outside of a video conference, how can you ensure they are working? Here comes the idea of tracking employees through their computers. Employers can ask employees to log minutes or hours spent on specific tasks, or they can get more high-tech by installing monitoring software. There are lots of options for monitoring software that can do everything from tracking keystrokes, email, file transfers, or applications used, and then logging how much time the employee spends on each task.
For some this might feel like George Orwell’s 1984 or that “big brother” might be watching you. We were curious as to how people really felt about employers monitoring remote workers. So, we asked, “Do you think it’s necessary for employers to track employees?” in a recent LinkedIn poll. The responses were overwhelmingly “no” at 72%. Although 20% of respondents did say that tracking would depend on the job position or type of tracking.
The large and swift shift to remote work has brought up some concerns for employers and employees. As with any change, there will be growing pains that come with that. But one benefit of all of these changes is that it has forced people to look outside of the proverbial “working in an office 9-5” box and learn to be more flexible. The future of work is looking bright.