The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be seen. But one thing seems clear already: More business will adopt remote working policies, allowing employees to do their jobs at home. While telecommuting was one of the major work trends of the 2010s, 2020 forced it to the forefront.
Businesses across the country shut their physical doors amid lockdown orders, which meant more Australians than ever before started working from home. Once a sense of normality returns, office workers and their employers may not be so keen on going back to traditional working environments.
A point of no return has likely been passed, as businesses once hesitant to allow remote work may now be major proponents of it after seeing such arrangements work in action. Workers, too, may be more inclined to apply for jobs that allow working from home. The future of work in Australia is remote, so let's examine where we're heading and what companies need to do to prepare.
While 2020 will probably be seen as a definitive turning point in the acceptance of remote working, telecommuting was well on the rise before the pandemic hit. According to 2019 research from online jobs board Indeed, 68% of Australian employers offered work-from-home flexibility. These companies said there were a number of benefits of remote work, including:
Remote employees also reported higher productivity and morale in the survey. Some of these advantages may seem contrary to the widely
held beliefs that remote working leads to lazier employees or higher costs for organisations. As more businesses learn first-hand that this is a misconception, it stands to reason remote working will increasingly become the standard for Australian employers.
It's important to keep in mind that these benefits are not guaranteed. Remote working cannot be a free-for-all; your business still needs to enforce policies and expectations, as well as ensure employees are enabled to do their jobs properly.
To that end, let's look at some of the ways you can leverage the future of remote working to you and your employees' advantage — and also avoid common pitfalls.
In the rush to solidify business contingency and remote working plans amid COVID-19, many organisations might have used video conferencing or chat apps that are popular with consumers. However, the problem is that such consumer-grade tech does not often offer the security and privacy controls that businesses require. When relying on such tools, everything from internet trolls to an actual data breach may disrupt your operations.
As remote working expands and matures, businesses and remote workers need to take these security considerations seriously. A single lapse could open the door to cybercriminals. It's important you not only vet every potential business solution, but also create and communicate a policy to remote teams about using certain apps for business purposes. This helps ensure productivity, while also protecting your data.
Remote work tends to blur the lines between professional and personal life. While 80% of remote employees reported a better work-life balance in the Indeed survey, things may get hazier the more days a week employees work from home. Before, Australians may have leveraged a day or two a week to break up the office monotony; looking ahead to the future, it may be several days a week, if not the entire week.
As employees and employers begin to adapt to these new realities, it's important for your business to help foster sufficient work-life balance. One way to do this is by managers having regular face-to-face video call meetings with their direct reports. While face-to-face in the future may be more like screen-to-screen, giving employees frequent opportunities to just chat can help them and their managers find a work schedule or framework that fits everyone's needs.
Office workers are used to having easy access to all sorts of technology. As they migrate to home offices, however, some remote employees may not enjoy the same level of access to essential hardware like a laptop or printer. If your business provides laptops to workers already, you might want to consider relaxing take-home rules, as many employers ban taking company tech off premises. You may need to implement tighter security controls and restrictions, but allowing employees to bring tech home ensures they can do their job effectively and efficiently.
Many employers may downsize as a result of less demand for traditional office space. Yet not every home office may be equipped like the central one. If you're enjoying operational cost savings, perhaps think about a one-time full or partial reimbursement for the purchase of a home office printer or scanner. Approach it as an investment in your employees, who would then have all the tools they need to get the job done properly at home without any fuss.
Looking for high-performance technology that can power your remote working framework? Epson has numerous product line and models to fit any home office printing, scanning or labelling job your employees would need.
It's important to consider these and other factors as the future of remote working begins to look more like the present. Empowering your company and your employees will take planning and dedication to making the most of remote working.
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