Today when you log in to LinkedIn, you’ll find your feeds inundated with photos and videos that tell intriguing stories about people coping with remote work style amid COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, you might find a suited-up man on a video call with a client, and suddenly a yelling toddler enters the room refuting all norms of courtesy and running around. Then his wife comes to grab the kid and pulls the screaming kid out of the room.
Or, you might discover a scene when a woman is flicking her fingers on the keyboard with the waves of the sea tiding high at a distance from her sea-facing room and palm trees swaying to the winds.
Although more traditional employers might not fully conform to the idea of remote work style, there doesn’t seem to be much of a choice. With the WHO declaring COVID-19 as a global pandemic on March 11, most of the global working population switched to becoming a fully remote workforce.1 Within a few weeks, an estimated 16 million U.S. knowledge workers started to work remotely to flatten the curve of the health crisis, according to a new survey by Slack.2
In this health crisis, millions of Americans have lost their jobs or some have put themselves and their families at risk to continue working.
As remote work style gains more momentum by the day, many myths or misconceptions too are floating around that need to be busted. We too have heard quite a few.
Let’s put some of these stereotypes to rest and give you a balanced perspective into this new mode of working style.
Myth #1: “Remote employees laze around or indulge in self-care at home.”
Truth: It’s easy for skeptics to believe that remote employees are slacking at home during COVID-19, as comparedto office settings. However, such an assumption can well be attributed to a lack of visibility on the team. In fact, with massive layoffs and salary cuts news floating around, employees are toiling hard to contribute in letting their businesses survive these tough times. Remote employees today seem to be more productive and focused than ever.
A survey conducted by Owl Labs, during the pre-COVID times of course, found that 71% of employees willingly decide to work remotely because it increases their productivity and focus.
“Now that I’m working from home, I work longer hours. This new work flexibility has improved my life,” says a UZIO employee. “In addition, my productivity has also improved manifold since there are fewer distractions and no hours on commute wasted. I can focus entirely on my work day-to-day.”
In fact, we, at UZIO, use various project management best practices that help us maintain complete visibility and ensure accountability of all the team members. When the workplace goes completely digital, it becomes easier to collaborate in real time and processes become more streamlined.
Myth #2 Communication is hindered.
Ahh, this is another common myth mostly believed by those who are hovering on the fence about this work concept.
In fact in the pre-COVID era, we also believed in this to an extent. But since the time, we’ve adopted a full work-from-home policy until this corona storm settles down, our thoughts have evolved too.
A feeling of loneliness does creep in sometimes, while working in solitude, away from peers but the productivity goals and project management tools make communication, among remote employees, super easy. Communications platforms like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Zoom calls, Google Drive and other cloud-based tools have in fact, hyper connected all of us. Regardless of our home locations, all we need to do is ping the other remote employee. Whoa! We stand connected.
If still managers feel that their teams are not communicating well, it’s time for them to jump into the virtual meetings and take control of the situation to ensure that all company-wide initiatives and project expectations are relayed adequately to the team members to stay productive and meet team or business goals.
In fact, many companies including us at UZIO are investing our efforts when it comes to communicating with employees and keeping them engaged during the corona pandemic. Our Human Resources Manager recently hosted a fitness challenge in which all the employees, while working remotely, had to download the fitness application and record the number of steps taken each day. At the end of the final day of the challenge, a winner was announced who won a fitness band. Cool, no?
Our HR team is also regularly organizing different fun contests, challenges, exercises, virtual play dates for kids, virtual pictionaries to keep the employees engaged and make the remote work environment a fun and enjoyable experience, as we all continue to shelter-in-place worldwide.
Overcommunication is the key here.
Myth #3 Bosses often fail at practising their people management skills when working remotely.
Truth: Many skeptics assume that bosses can’t be great managers, while working remotely. It’s true that sometimes the circumstances in remote work conditions might get the better of you, but most often a great professional camaraderie can be established among boss and remote teams during these tough times. It’s indeed a high-risk, high-reward job scenario.
We can claim so from our own example. Our team manager ensures that he checks upon the mental and emotional well being of each of the team members during 1:1 or even team meetings. We, at UZIO, are focusing on maintaining good lines of communication using online collaboration methodology. The effect is cascading right from the top.
From our weekly town hall to team video calls and 1:1 meetings, functional heads and team managers are throwing open both formal and informal lines of communications to all the team members, while refraining from micro-managing. It’s important for team managers to be empathetic, patient and compassionate while managing remote employees.
We think it’s best to err on the side of over-communication in such turbulent times.
We’re Navigating Remote Work Myths and Busting Them Too
As you’ve seen above, some of the common myths surrounding communication, management style, and work ethics are incredibly false. As we continue to work remotely as long as it takes for the COVID-19 crisis to subside, we’re looking forward to debunking some more remote work myths along the way.
Meanwhile, if you are thinking of amplifying the productivity of your team and augmenting your human capabilities during this global pandemic, let us know.