COVID-19 induced remote work strategies will pay off long term
By Leon Gettler >>
THE REMOTE work force could become a permanent feature, according to Moe Vela, the chief transparency officer of TransparentBusiness.
Mr Vela, who was a strategic business adviser to US Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, said the coronavirus had already transformed the global workforce.
Speaking from his home town of New York, he said figures showed that 80-90 percent of the global work was now being performed remotely.
“One of the challenges is that there was no transition period, there was no adjustment period. It was just a shock to the workforce system and workforce model,” Mr Vela told Talking Business.
He said it might become a permanent feature of the workforce if it was handled correctly.
“If we make it work well during this pandemic, I actually believe it will become the new normal in phases,” he said.
“Incrementally, I think we will move over the next few years towards a more robust remote workforce.”
He cited a recent study by Gartner which found that 74 percent of managers now expected 15-20 percent of their workforce “would remain remote.”
Managers, CEO and boards of directors had not previously moved towards remote work because of concerns about damage to productivity, operational efficiency and the “out-of-sight-out of-mind-out-of-control” syndrome.
Mr Vela said the first thing management should do is use the technological tools – such as Zoom, or Skype or WhatsApp – that are already in the marketplace, to mitigate those risks and concerns and create connectivity.
Another approach is to use file sharing programs.
A third is to use remote workforce management software.
“Communication is integral in making a remote workforce setting effective,” Mr Vela said.
“Communicate with this remote workforce and remind them that you value them, that you respect them, that you affirm them and that you appreciate them. Those are the kinds of messages you need to be sending.
“Number two, communicate and remind them that you trust them,” he said.
“And during the pandemic, as part of this communication effort, remind them that you as management are flexible because you understand their plight. You understand there’s a lot of anxiety in this new setting. You understand their children may not be in school because of the pandemic and maybe they have to stop in the middle of the day to play blocks on the living room floor, or put their child down for their nap, or play with them for a little while.
“Remind them as management you understand that and that you are flexible, that you are patient and that you have their back.”
TRUST MAKES REMOTE WORK
Mr Vela said these approaches by management would elicit trust, appreciation, gratitude and loyalty from the workforce.
He said studies had shown this could even create a more productive workforce. The studies found that workplace productivity increased between 15-60 percent.
Mr Vela said there were five beneficiaries of remote workforces.
The first is management producing a more productive workforce with less absenteeism and less sick leave.
The second is the employees who enjoy it because it gives them a better work-life balance and greater flexibility.
The third is the economy, with studies showing remote workforces can add $2 trillion to the national economy as they deliver more savings for companies.
The fourth is the environment, with commute times eliminated and lower carbon emissions.
A remote workforce is also beneficial for women, especially single mothers or those who cannot be on site, and people who are disabled who are unable to commute, Mr Vela pointed out.
Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.