Throughout the coronavirus crisis, we have heard anecdotal evidence that productivity rose, with those working from home avoiding the distractions of the office and the commute.
The threat of a business failing while people adapted to a work from home lifestyle will undoubtedly explain some of this increased productivity, but with less control and a business in survival mode, is every worker pulling their weight? Is everyone suited to remote working?
In reality, while the threat of mass redundancies looms ever larger over the UK economy, a recent survey by behavioural-science consultancy Mind Gym has highlighted the potential productivity shortfall facing UK businesses.
A quarter of employees in the survey admitted that working from home allowed them to shirk around two hours less work every day, without their managers noticing or indeed commenting.
For most businesses, it was a rush to implement a work from home strategy and the best solution was the quickest solution. But with a third of workers claiming the lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health and their productivity is it time to review the solution?
Remote doesn’t suit everyone
With the return to work well under way, organisations are beginning to consider their attitude to remote working. Whether it’s occasional days, certain days every week, fully remote teams, alternate weeks in the office, it is likely remote working will be part of the future.
Global commercial giants like Twitter and Shopify have already pointed to the future and a permanent work from home approach and research now shows 74% of companies plan to shift to more remote work.
Unsurprisingly, employees have expressed satisfaction with the flexibility, independence and better work-life balance afforded with remote working, to say nothing of the cut in costs associated with commuting, work clothes, drinks and lunches, etc.
The problem is that while every employee may claim they love the flexibility of remote working, it doesn’t suit everyone and when you recruited them, it wasn’t to work at home, with little supervision and no colleagues close by for support.
Looking at the return to normal, you’re not just considering the right job skills anymore, but also the overall suitability of an individual to function optimally in a remote working environment. And it’s not just about new recruits, the same is true of your existing workforce.
Assess your entire team
Striking a balance between giving those suited to working from home the autonomy they desire and engaging with those not suited to work away from the office is a new challenge for management teams. Psychometrics will play a part unless guesswork and coin-flipping is the approach adopted.
The flip-side to the work from home challenge is the fear of losing the recent flexibility enjoyed by employees, who are now expected to return to the office and work as before.
Using a variety of tools, like our Motivations & Interests or personality assessments, you will begin to understand more about your people, their interests and work preferences, allowing you to select the right ones for remote working and those best suited to the structure of the office.
Flexible work arrangements don’t have to be all about work from home. Giving office-based employees the opportunity to create a schedule that suits them best, will build engagement and trust, which in turn delivers commitment and productivity.
Depending on the skills, experience and personality of each member of your team, they will have a slightly different way of approaching their role. Considering and embracing these differences is a crucial step for organisations as they look to transition from survive to thrive.