How Businesses Can Get the Most Benefits from the WFH Paradigm

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Modern businesses sell “experiences”. While the customer experience is indeed the most discussed aspect, businesses today must focus equally, if not more, on delivering quality employee experiences. After all, the latter is inextricably linked with the former. Every organization recognizes this as a business truism, happy employees make happy customers.

The relationship between employee experiences and productivity becomes more apparent when one considers that over time, as the nature of goods and services has changed, the parameters that make up productivity have changed.

While it is easily quantifiable with respect to physical goods and services, its measurement becomes more delicate when it comes to knowledge-based work. The rise of the remote work paradigm by COVID has further complicated this dynamic. This also begs the question; how to define it in a world which is just starting to recover from the ravages of the pandemic?

Defining productivity in the age of remote work

In the traditional office workspace, managers compared employee hours worked with deliverables achieved to determine productivity. However, in 2015, a study by Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom found that offering the work from home option (WFH) could increase a worker’s productivity by 13%. Despite working similar hours each day, employee performance represented almost an extra day of work each week.

In light of this study, the pandemic’s shift to full-time remote work on a large scale is expected to translate into increased productivity by default. However, this is far from the truth, with Bloom himself predicting just the opposite in 2020.

Why? Due to the differences in the conditions controlled by experience and the implementation of remote work out of necessity. In the experiment, employees volunteered to switch to working from home and volunteers were only accepted if they had a home office. In the post-2020 landscape, remote working is no longer a choice but a necessity for companies as well as for employees. In this context, the cliché that “everyone is unique” was highlighted.

A remote worker can live with their family in a home without a home office. Another may be tending to aging parents while managing the demands of the job. Yet another employee can take care of their children, while someone else could be quarantined on their own and respond to deliverables while battling a mental health crisis brought on by isolation. When considering employee efficiency and productivity, companies often miss these factors, amplifying the negative consequences of the inequities that every employee faces every day. The result? More stress, untenable work-life balance, loss of motivation, reduced efficiency and lower productivity.

The good news is that companies can prevent such a strain on their workforce. Senior management can take ownership of establishing an empathetic work culture conducive to the physical and mental well-being of employees. Bloom also suggests some best practices companies can implement to help remote workers find a better work-life balance while improving communication and collaboration within teams. These include managers who regularly check in on their teams, employees who draw clear lines between work and home life, and teams who switch to video calls from phone calls.

Unlock productivity through a technology-driven work culture

Technology is the biggest catalyst for remote working.

The shift from physical to knowledge-based work has eroded the need for the traditional workplace, but we haven’t changed the way we work since the industrial age.

Between 5G, remote management and project management tools, the new office is virtual. In everyone’s homes and laptops.

The strategic deployment of technology tools can help organizations streamline processes and workflows, foster seamless connectivity, collaboration and project management, and enable effective documentation and knowledge sharing.

The dynamics of remote work are very different from that of an office environment. In a physical workspace, employees come together in person, allowing for real-time communication and setting expectations for the day. Instead of in-person communication, businesses can use automated robots and virtual assistants to define and plan daily activities. By automating time-consuming manual tasks, managers have more time than they can use to focus on managing their teams.

Advanced video conferencing and project management tools such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Trello, Asana, etc. allow team members to communicate with each other and with other teams. The seamless connectivity offered by these solutions allows managers to have better visibility into the progress of each project and each assignment and to determine where to reassign work in the event that an employee is ill or has to leave due to an emergency. .

Productivity tools like Notion, Calendly, Evernote, etc. can allow remote workers – especially those who find open workspaces awkward – to operate in a deep work environment without distraction. For example, the “away” feature on a Hangouts call allows teams or members to communicate when they should not be disturbed. Remote workers can also configure their schedule to be in DND mode when they are busy. In this way, the isolation of remote work can be strategically converted into an opportunity to tap into higher levels of productivity.

These are just a few examples of how demanding companies can adapt to the new normal with a technological approach while reversing adversity. The final point companies need to remember is that with process transformation comes a change in the way they define and understand productivity. By putting the employee experience at the center, companies can ensure that tasks are completed and that customers are satisfied efficiently. A “people first, profits later” mindset will make employees feel valued and cared for, helping them deliver on their commitments in a better, smarter, and healthier way.



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The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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