remote work digital nomad laptop

The employment relationship between an employer and an employee relies heavily on trust. For decades, technological limitations generated work cultures based on presenteeism, sometimes also called jacket on chair culture.

With rapid strides forward in technology and in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic remote working is no longer some futuristic concept but a reality employers and employees alike share on a daily basis. Having said that, not every industry lends itself to remote working. However, remote online working is especially suited to administrative work.  There are many advantages to remote online working for both employers and employees, however, the subject remains one that is hotly debated.

As some businesses have experienced a decline in turnover, limiting costs take on paramount importantance.  Office space is costly, as is running a fully-fledged office.  Many offices have reduced their footprint during the pandemic, as their workforce shifted to working remotely, making savings in the process. Some landlords have even graciously accepted to reduce office rents, as some businesses downsized.

Consistently, business surveys reveal the difficulties of retaining Generation Z talent. Among this cohort, remote working is taken as a given. Generation Z employees could easily be working from the local, living the expatriate life or generally be on the move. Flexibility with regard to location is key to retaining this talent.   

Key performance indicators and metrics

A great many business nowadays employs metrics to measure employee performance and reward employees commensurately. If your business has experienced a decline in revenues and you are considering remote working as an option, having key performance indicators and metrics in place is a must. This not only gives employees clarity as to what is expected of their performance e.g. a set number of tasks daily but also gives the employer insight into productivity and time management by its employees.

Win some, lose some

Once the building blocks are in place, it is also worth spending some thoughts on the employee perspective. As our roads clog up with gridlocks and traffic jams, commuting time to the office is a major concern for most employees. Cut out the commute and the day starts in a more pleasant manner. Fido and Felix will surely be thankful that their human is around. However, this inevitably brings to mind the number of distractions that are found in the average home. For working parents this could be a child demanding immediate attention, the phone ringing or pets making an impromptu appearance on Zoom calls. Employers should make a degree of allowance for such interruptions.

The loneliness factor

Another factor to consider is the employee’s mental health. Remote working can be a lonely experience. Whilst virtual meetings make interaction possible, there is no substitute for those water cooler moments where colleagues engage in light chit chat, however short these may be, they give colleagues an opportunity to get to know one another better and used correctly can foster team spirit.

Firms nowadays recognize the importance of team building events. As with most things COVID, these have become quasi prohibited activities. Has anyone ever heard of a tug of war with a 2metre social distance for the participants? Fostering and keeping team spirit alive in a COVID 19 workforce is a real challenge.

Sharing space

On a lighter note, expect increased disagreement between the members of a household as the unwashed dishes pile up while multiple family members demand simultaneous silence for their Zoom calls, while Fido demands his daily walk and the house teenager returns from school only to erupt into a tantrum. 

Whilst the reality depicted is not all rosy, remote online working requires trust and flexibility on both sides. Combined with time spent at the office desk, it can provide a greater sense of work/life balance and a win win solution for employers and employees alike.

PKF offers business consultancy, payroll and audit services. It is a family friendly employer at the forefront of remote working.  

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