If you were to log in to LinkedIn today, you’d most likely find your feed full of COVID-19 centered photos and video. People have many different ways of coping with remote style work, which results in some pretty intriguing stores for us to read (or see). For example, you might see a suited-up man on a video call with a client, but then a toddler suddenly bursts into the room, screaming and running around as his mother attempts to catch him. Obviously, this is not the optimal situation! On the flip side, you’re just as likely to see photos of a woman sitting seaside, clicking away at her keyboard as palm trees sway and the ocean tide grows steadily higher. The overall experience of remote work depends a lot on the environment you’re working in, so we highly doubt the “guess what happened at work today!?” stories will be coming to an end anytime soon.
Many traditional employers are still on the fence about the idea of remote work, but unfortunately, COVID-19 has made that choice for them. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic back on March 11, most of the global workforce has since switched to a fully remote workplace.1 According to a new survey by Slack, it took only a few weeks for 16 million workers across the U.S. to switch over to their new, virtual workplace. They were the lucky ones. Unfortunately, the crisis has also taken jobs away from millions of Americans. Others have been forced to choose between putting their families’ health at risk or keeping their job.
The remote workstyle is steadily becoming more commonplace, but many myths and misconceptions are still floating around. Let’s take a quick look at some of these stereotypes, find the facts within the fiction, and get a balanced perspective on this modern style of working.
Myth #1: “Remote employees laze around or indulge in self-care at home.
At a quick glance, this wildly inaccurate claim seems highly believable, but the fact of the matter is, it simply isn’t true. A survey conducted by Owl Labs actually found that 71% of employees willingly decide to work remotely because it increases their overall productivity and focus. Even without the traditional office settings, employees are still working hard to contribute to their businesses. Faced with potential layoffs or salary cuts, employees know they need to work harder than ever to make sure their business survives (so they don’t lose their jobs). As a result, remote workers today seem to be more productive and focused than ever!
“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.”
Here at UZIO, we use various project management practices to help us maintain complete visibility and accountability for all of our team members. Surprisingly, a digital workplace makes it easier (not harder) to collaborate in real-time. As a result, our processes have quickly become more streamlined and efficient.
Myth #2: Communication is hindered
If you’re used to the usual office banter and mandatory staff meetings, then opting for a digital workplace could definitely seem like a way to kill communication. Truth be told, we actually thought this ourselves before the COVID pandemic hit. However, being forced into a remote workplace has shown us that we were wrong, and honestly, we’re glad we were.
Working in solitude can get lonely sometimes, but communication itself is 10 times easier. Productivity goals, project management tools, and communication platforms all play a vital role in keeping our team connected. Utilizing services like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Google Drive, and other cloud-based tools have actually pushed us closer together, not farther apart. Regardless of where we are, all it takes is a quick message to another employee and we’re instantly connected once more.
If maintaining active communication still poses an issue, then virtual meetings offer an easy way for managers to regain control of the situation. Virtual meetings are just like regular face-to-face meetings, covering company-wide initiatives and project expectations. All team members can easily be made aware of the expectations when it comes to staying productive and meeting business goals (without the hassle of getting everyone in the same physical location!).
Like many other companies, we here at UZIO are investing our efforts into communicating and actively engaging with our employees during the Coronavirus pandemic. Our Human Resources Manager recently hosted a fitness challenge for all of our remote employees, inviting them to download a fitness application and record their number of daily steps. At the end of the challenge, the winner who had taken the most steps was awarded a fitness band!
Our HR team also regularly organizes contests, challenges, exercises, and virtual Pictionary to make the remote work environment a fun and enjoyable experience. They even host virtual playdates for the kids! In the end, overcommunication is the key to success.
Myth #3: Bosses often fail at practicing their people management skills when working remotely.
This is both true and false: honestly, it depends on the boss. Remote work conditions can certainly be hard to manage, but a good boss can still establish great camaraderie with their remote teams despite being physically apart. Take our team manager for example. He routinely checks up on the mental and emotional wellbeing of each team member, whether it be one-on-one or in a team meeting. At UZIO, we focus on maintaining open communication through collective online collaboration via weekly town hall, team video calls, and one-on-one meetings. Our team managers make sure that both formal and informal lines of communication are available to all of our team members, but we also make sure not to micro-manage. We believe it’s important for team managers to stay empathetic, patient, and compassionate when managing remote employees. Once again, overcommunication is the key to success!
We’re Navigating Remote Work Myths and Busting Them Too
s you’ve seen above, a lot of the myths surrounding communication, management style, and work ethics regarding remote work are far from the truth. Of course, there are far more myths to be challenged, so we look forward to debunking them along the way as we work through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Do you have any myths you’d like to debunk or ways you’re thinking of amplifying remote team productivity? Let us know; we’d love to hear from you!