Here’s what company bosses think about employees working from home

 ·10 Apr 2022

The ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks suggest that a hybrid way of working could become the norm, says Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Spencer Stuart – an executive search and leadership consulting firm.

According to Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index report, more than 70% of workers want flexible, remote work options to continue, while at the same time, over 65% crave more in-person time with their teams.

BCG and Spencer Stuart interviewed 13 South African chief executive officers to understand their experiences with remote working.

The survey found no evidence that remote working hurts performance or productivity.

“Fewer than 40% of survey participants said efficiency and productivity declined substantially. Less than half of interviewees said that their employees working remotely compromised data security and confidentiality,” said BCG.

The interviewees suggested that enabling employees to recharge and connect in person should be prioritised.

They further stressed that company leaders must set clear standards for planning before key meetings to make sure issues that require the most attention are addressed and virtual engagements are efficient.

“Adapting performance reviews to the realities of remote working provides transparency of performance across all levels of the organisation while also ensuring a more nuanced, diverse, and broader review process.

The interviewees outlined the following difficulties with remote working:

  • Seamlessly integrating new employees – 60% of the interviewees said remote employee onboarding is less effective than in-person arrangements.
  • Negative organisational culture – due to a lack of face-to-face interaction, interviewees found that remote working was not conducive to the organisation of multiple people.
  • Difficulty to detect signs of attrition – they noted that it was harder to retain employees as they could not see the signs of people wishing to leave.
  • Difficulty in defining a long-term strategy – the company leaders said that leveraging the advantages of both remote and in-person models was challenging if no detailed approach was implemented for the long-term

Improving the work environment

“With flexibility and remote work set to define the post-pandemic workplace, businesses and business leaders need to prioritise reconnecting with employees and keeping workers connected to avoid fatigue and isolation, which negatively impacts employee wellness and productivity,” said David Seinker, founder of The Business Exchange.

Seinker said that catering to all business and personal needs with remote work requires a delicate balancing act.

He said that a hybrid work environment, where a portion of the workforce works from the physical office part of the time and remotely for the rest, can enable businesses to offer flexibility that is not high in demand while also allowing employees to have the traditional space to engage with one another in.

“To do this, businesses need to lay out clear processes and policies around logistics and expectations. Maintaining traditional cubicle set-ups would be antithetical to supporting a more social environment.”

Seinker outlined that employees must feel that they can speak up and be heard to promote communication. This can be achieved through forming a company culture based on appreciation and recognition.

“The well-being of employees directly impacts the work they produce and their willingness to stay with an organisation,” said Seinker.

Read: South Africa to get a state-owned bank

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