With COVID-19 coronavirus upon us globally, many office workers are having to work remotely, i.e. from home. This is an exciting time for work-from-home evangelists who point out benefits of avoiding the office – no commuting, getting more done without distracting co-workers, home cooked-lunch and more family time. Sounds wonderful! Team members at Pioneer Consulting Asia-pacific (PCA) have been working from home in Singapore for several weeks, and we acknowledge the upsides of remote working. But our team members have also experienced some downsides:
“My thoughts can get cut off when family members try to engage with me in conversations. My family is still quite ‘traditional’ and it’s considered rude to tell older family members to leave, even when asked politely”
“I’m less creative by myself than when interacting with colleagues in a group” Research has shown that where remote workers gain in productivity, they often miss in harder-to-measure benefits like creativity and innovative thinking
“I’m less focused when I wear my sleepwear at home to work”
“My step counter recorded 300 steps yesterday & I usually hit 10,000 steps daily”
So, how do we ensure the right working environment when working from home? We need to create the right mood and make time for group interactions In what way?
Create a working mood:
One of our team says “I attribute certain apparel to different ‘moods’, and I simply do not feel like doing anything productive in my sleepwear. So, I’ve begun to wear more formal clothing, even when at home, just to simulate the working mood” – while one benefit of remote working is the ability to wear whatever you want, dressing the part helps one to get in the right frame of mind.
Pick up the phone: Many people hide behind emails and messages rather than talk to colleagues and contacts. When you spend the day working on your own, actually calling people and having a conversation can be more stimulating and productive than a chain of emails.
Balance remote working with face-time: There’s an element of social interaction that is important. So, there is a need to balance home working with some time in the office for group discussions and ideation. If COVID19 coronavirus continues companies will need to create office culture over a distance by encouraging social video conferencing with colleagues or “virtual coffee breaks” with colleagues they don’t know so well.
COVID19 coronavirus has forced us into remote working. Organisations need to put in place measures not only to achieve efficiency but also creativity.
Our following article will cover technology enablers for remote working.