Remote or virtual working has a lot of benefits and potential risks for you and your employees. The knowledge, capability and skill to maximise the opportunities and minimise the risks makes a significant difference to overall success of each employee and the team overall. CoachStation will assist you to do both.
What should we focus on to minimise the risks of remote working?
The Advanced Workplace Institute (AWI) partnered with the Centre for Evidence Based Management, a global network of top-flight academics, to analyse all the relevant academic research. It studied 35 primary studies and 10 meta-analyses (which themselves drew on 715 original studies) to produce a report, Managing The Virtual Workforce. The report has six main conclusions:
- Working apart impacts team dynamics, the frequency and quality of communications, levels of consensus and conflict, and the amount and quality of social interaction. All of these impact the performance of teams and the outcomes they generate.
- Successful virtual work requires an understanding of the differences that people experience, compared to being co-located. To avoid damage to team and community performance, people need to respond to the differences and find alternative ways to operate.
- Effective virtual teams are determined by the strength of their social and cognitive states – i.e. the degree to which they are socially cohesive, trust each other, operate within a psychologically safe climate and share skills, experience and knowledge freely.
- While all factors interconnect, trust and communication lie at the foundation of cohesion, supervision, communication, the sharing of skills and knowledge, work relationships and the performance of virtual teams.
- Trust, social cohesion and information sharing seem to be the most potentially vulnerable to damage when people work virtually and must be consciously understood and actively managed – they can’t be left to chance.
- In virtual teams there is potential for everyone to be a leader – home based employees respond well to more transformational management styles. This involves creating a strong team structure, empowering and guiding the team, involving them in the development of group goals and supporting them in actively reflecting on decision making and outcomes. (Source: www.workplaceinsight.net)
Why do organisations consider remote working to be so beneficial?
- Increased productivity – Remote workers can be just as productive, if not more productive, as those at the office – research suggests they show stronger loyalty and commitment to their employers.
- Expand your staffing options – through virtual working and high speed broadband, you can employ people from around the country, even if you’re only a small business, and you can access skilled workers you might otherwise have missed out on – think of:
- people who are combining work and study,
- highly skilled workers who are considering retirement (the population is ageing – don’t miss out on these highly skilled workers who don’t want to come into the office everyday, but still want to work),
- people who might otherwise have to resign due to caring roles, or because family reasons require them to move interstate
- people who live in regional or rural areas, and
- people with a disability or injury that makes travelling and working in the office difficult.
- Save money by cutting down on office space and overheads – some companies have saved as much as 25% of their accommodation costs.
- Improve your employees work/life balance by cutting out their commute – the commuting time and cost saved is akin to a tax free salary increase.
- Reduce unexpected absences when your employees have to care for sick children or family members. With telework, they can work from home so you don’t lose productivity or miss key deadlines.
- Help retain employees by providing a better work/life balance – your employees will have more free time and be less stressed as they don’t need to commute back and forth to the office.
- Strengthen your business’ ability to continue during a crisis or natural disaster – if your employees aren’t able to come into the office, they can still work from home.
- Reduce your carbon footprint and help reduce urban congestion.
- Remote working environments don’t have to be expensive – employees with a computer and internet access can work anywhere.
- Remote working is perfect for situations where employees don’t need to be in the office to do all or part of their job. Think accounting, bookkeeping, writing, sales, data entry, typing or dictation, policy, design, call centre functions and more. It can work amazingly well for other professions too.
Source: Telework 2020, telework.gov.au