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A man focused on his laptop screen in a dimly lit room, illuminated only by the blue light of the computer display.

Is working remotely the future?

​Operating during a global pandemic has precipitously transformed the way in which we work. To accommodate this, companies have been required to innovate, adapt and alter their processes as society has shifted to a new norm of remote working.

There is a resounding expectation remote roles could have a lasting impact on the hiring sector as employers shift their focus purely to candidate skills, irrespective of location. Companies now have the option to easily source diverse and unique talent, particularly when seeking skills that are under-represented in their current area.

Employee expectations

From an employee perspective, flexible working expectations have been altered significantly. People are broadening their horizons in terms of working conditions, work-life balance, and office location. A recent study indicated only 13% of Australians wanted full-time office work, 14% desired remote-only, and 72% preferred a hybrid remote-office model moving into the future.

Companies will be required to take this into account to ensure their employees feel supported and happy in their place of work. Businesses are now presented with a rare opportunity where they can reimagine their workforce and the way in which they run their company. They can aspire to preserve the best parts of their company culture, whilst ridding themselves from redundant processes and unnecessary bureaucracy. 

The benefits and limitations

The most obvious benefits of remote working include reduced time spent on commuting, saving money and enhanced work-life balance. Remote workers also reported decreased levels of stress and anxiety, as well as increased levels of productivity. However, remote working can have negative implications on an employee’s sense of belonging. Companies will need to manage this repercussion by implementing opportunities for employees that drive team building, recognition, and personal development.

It’s time for businesses to create a clear strategy for remote working. Taking the traditional 9-to-5 office culture and applying it to our modernised digital reality is a recipe for failure. Simply providing someone with a laptop and transitioning to virtual meetings is not a viable approach to managing staff remotely in the long-term. If businesses are willing to invest in the ‘virtual office’, they can gain a significant competitive advantage, improving both efficiency and fulfillment in the workforce.

Connectivity remains the biggest challenge for remote working. This includes logistical connections such as dependable Wi-Fi, security, access, and reliable communication tools. It also extends to networking with peers, management, and nurturing workplace relationships. By investing in technologies that strengthen employee connections and empower collaboration, workers are more likely to stay motivated and engaged.

On-boarding new staff to work remotely naturally also comes with its challenges. It’s essential that they’re well equipped with support, training and the right tools to ensure a seamless transition into their new role. Arming new staff with a comprehensive induction will help to significantly speed up the learning curve and allow them to carry out their position with confidence.

Company culture needs to be embedded at every interaction and will still require a significant focus when working remotely. Businesses should consider refining or recreating their company values and create a consistent strategy for communicating these to the entire organisation. Culture is not static, but something that should be constantly reassessed as a business grows and develops.    

In summary, by transitioning to remote-only roles and flexible working arrangements, employers are welcoming a more diverse workforce, enhanced productivity, and overall increased employee satisfaction. However, they also run the risk of a diluted culture, a loss of connectivity, and potential feelings of isolation, if not managed appropriately. Businesses that implement processes that drive remote engagement and teamwork now will be better positioned for organisational dexterity and workforce agility well into the future.

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