By- Suvarna Nikam, Head, Global HR Function, Visionet
As a result of the pandemic, remote work became the norm. However, there is currently considerable discussion about the best course of action in many places, including leadership circles at both large and small global businesses. Professionals in a variety of knowledge or people-intensive businesses have reportedly accepted the notion that there will never be a clear-cut solution, rather than taking sides or arguing that one is superior to the other. Both models have advantages, but the most crucial one is that it is to be determined and driven by the goals. For the collective development and financial advancement of people and businesses, productivity from talent and talent well-being are equally essential. By allowing employees to work from anywhere in the world, remote work has undoubtedly helped make many industry and service-oriented workplaces more inclusive for people with diverse needs. It has also been shown to offer cost advantages to businesses by requiring less investment in physical workspaces, lowering administrative costs, and attracting talent where it is affordable.
Companies frequently use the money they save by using these flexibilities and areas of spending to promote employee well-being, reskilling, and upskilling, boost their prospects for becoming better, more rounded professionals, and eventually advance in their careers. However, a lot of businesses have also embraced this as an opportunity to optimise spending, bring in financial economies, and improve operational efficiencies. An international “back to the office” movement is gaining traction as a result of growing dissatisfaction with the remote work model among companies and employees alike, even if motivated for various reasons. In this article, we examine the effects that remote work has had on the productivity and well-being of employees and employers and offer suggestions for improving it.
Remote Work and Employee Wellbeing
Without being restricted by the confines of actual office space, remote workers have the freedom to operate from any location of their choosing. Employees long appreciated this versatility because it freed them from everyday commutes. It has been especially helpful for those balancing caregiving responsibilities or those with medical/assistive needs because they may now meet their other obligations at their own pace while getting work done. Additionally, it complied with business needs for flexibility in requiring workers to spend the extra time saved on commutes working on additional tasks and being available at unusual hours.
Working alone is lonely, and working in silos can make an employee’s loneliness worse. Their engagement declines and their affiliation with the company suffers. Due to the blurred lines between one’s home and workplace, remote work can increase effective work hours. For many people who are constantly juggling household chores and professional obligations, commute time is also “Me time.” Over time, this can accumulate, leading to stress and potential burnout for employees and a disengaged, ineffective employee due to dilution of focus.
Data speaks always
Over the past three years, the phenomena of remote work have been thoroughly researched. Working from home makes employees 22% happier than those who work in an office, according to a recent Stanford study. On the other hand, a 2022 Microsoft study discovered that employees who worked remotely tended to “overcompensate” and experienced emotions of social isolation and guilt. In addition, 69% of workers said that using digital communication tools had led to higher burnout, and 53% said that it was more difficult to interact with coworkers.
The Hybrid work model
With the hybrid work paradigm, many companies are deciding to combine the finest aspects of both worlds. In this method, employees can work remotely the rest of the time but are only needed to report to the office on specific days of the week. Furthermore, these rules are flexible; an individual may decide to work remotely for a whole week while making up the missed days in a subsequent week or month.
This model allows workers to interact with one another and offers the choice of working in an office setting, to help them to function well and at the same time use some freedom to achieve work-life balance, health, and well-being as they see fit. By providing a “fit to size” approach, managers are empowered to foster camaraderie amongst their teams and keep increased engagement. For a team to succeed and create result-oriented partnerships, both functional and emotional connections are crucial.
The HR perspective
The ultimate objective for all HR leaders is to support staff in maintaining a sense of connection to their workplace while embracing flexibility. According to a recent Cisco study of Indian employees, 90% of respondents claimed that hybrid work increased their overall satisfaction. For instance, at Visionet, we work in diverse geographic, cultural, time zone, and business contexts. As a result, the most important consideration is how to establish a “high touch and high tech” workplace that promotes “one team, one goal” and “customer centricity.” This spirit is at the core of the company’s employee initiatives and policies. Our main goal in everything we do is to collaborate with our team members, entrust them to adopt the most suitable approach that works best for them, and then support them in achieving their objectives. Interestingly, at Visionet we have observed that rather than participating in lengthy virtual meetings, everyone prefers to be in the office on specified days, collaborating in conference rooms, discussing challenges, establishing clear next steps, and completing tasks. Conversations with professional peers frequently reveal that while there was a trend toward complete remote work, things are now shifting in the opposite direction as it makes it easier to distinguish between one’s working hours at the end of the day.
It is undeniable that remote work—which I prefer to refer to as flexible work—has many advantages of productivity, focus, and fostering an inclusive workplace. Employers may best protect their employees’ wellness by paying attention to their preferences and placing their trust in them to get the desired results, ensuring tight controls on measuring outcomes and accountability to deliver. Do not let the sense of belonging and commitment deplete; it is typically developed by participating in corporate activities such as being present in the office, joining work communities, and creating memories in those fun, uplifting, and welcoming workspaces. A lot of difficult issues are resolved, fresh ideas are planted, and a little humour is exchanged during water cooler and hallway conversations, which adds life to otherwise very serious and stressful situations we all encounter often in today’s corporate world.