When people or companies are faced with “flicking-the-working-remotely-switch” for the first time, it often turns out that it is not always as easy as expected. There are obvious enablers to working remotely, but there are also other factors that also need to be considered.
The obvious physical enablers will include finding a space to work, that is comfortable and can accommodate everything needed to be productive. To mention a few things: a desk and chair, sufficient light, good ventilation and a good cup of coffee! Although working remotely may be done alone, it is not possible to work alone. Being able to communicate with customers and colleagues is essential. So having a telephone or mobile phone, a decent internet connection and possibly a scanner are necessary.
Often change to working remotely is not quick because some work is required before hitting the switch. Company’s processes need to incorporate any steps specifically related to working remotely, for example how to use and process electronic documents. These electronic documents should be made available to employees on an online platform and the employees should be trained on how to complete and process the forms digitally.
Work is also required before the remote working switch can be flicked on the systems used. The cloud or online platforms themselves must be acquired, configured and supported before the remote work switch can be flicked on. Also, every remote worker must have a user account on the required platforms, with the correctly configured access permissions.
Lastly, consider the company culture and the employees’ personality types when going remote. Companies where there is a hierarchical and autocratic culture, with a high degree of management control, will have more difficulty in moving to working remotely than a company with a culture of trust, collaboration and empowerment. Any predominant personality traits in the workforce will also influence the success of remote work. Introverts usually tend to adopt working alone more easily than extroverts, especially for longer periods of time. Gregarious natured employees will require more opportunities to use online meetings and telephone calls.
Much of what has been mentioned can be addressed quite easily if working remotely has to be implemented quickly. However the difficulties, and even possibly the success of working remotely, is dependent on how it is implemented and if there is enough in place when flicking the switch.