Unless you’re an essential worker, you have more than likely experienced remote working this year. Some have embraced it and coped well, others have hated it, and are chomping at the bit to get back to the office.
Now the question on everyone’s lips is, what’s next?
We spoke to a few people about their remote working set up during the lockdown period to determine what their biggest challenges have been, what they’ve enjoyed and what they are hoping the future of work will hold for them.
Working from home
South African business owners and managers were quick to respond to the Covid madness and made it possible for employees to carry on with their daily routines with as little disruption as possible. Zoom calls quickly took the place of in-person meetings, and tracksuits & slippers (thankfully) replaced formal workwear. Things didn’t seem all that bad or did they?
Productivity on the rise
While employee output was the biggest concern for most managers, 80 % of our survey group felt that their productivity increased while working from home. Unfortunately, we found that the main reason for this was fear-driven and a general feeling of “having to prove to my boss that I’m getting my work done“.
Another problem that a lot of the participants encountered was not setting clear boundaries between work and home life, and their personal lives started suffering because of it. As one participant stated: “Lines between working hours and personal time often overlap. I’m not switching off as often as I should.” Another said: “I work longer hours now as well as through my lunchtime. This doesn’t sit well with my husband.”
Of the people surveyed, a quarter of them had children at home. Kids, as we have seen on numerous hilarious online videos, can cause quite a lot of disruption to your workday. Our panel all enjoyed spending quality time with their families at first, but it quickly turned into a nightmare. Kids got too used to having parents cater to their every whim and actual work became near impossible.
But believe it or not, kids didn’t seem to be the biggest challenge.
While focus, loneliness, connectivity issues and inspiration have all played their part. It was time management and interaction with colleagues/business partners that seemed to be the major challenges.
Something else that stood out was “the anxiety of keeping up the momentum of output“. The fear of being retrenched during the pandemic made employees work hard at being indispensable.
This is not sustainable and is causing burn-out which in the long run, is not good for anyone.
Remote Working Compensation
An interesting fact was that more than 50 % of our group did not get compensated to work from home. There was no additional data or airtime contributions or days off. But this didn’t seem to bother people as much as you’d think. Understanding from their employers was what our participants appreciated most.
A perfect example: “While we don’t get anything, my boss trusts me to get on with my work which I love. There’s no micro-management. This means more to me than any contribution.” Or this, “Understanding re reduced capacity when I had the kids meant everything to me!“
Do you think working remotely has been a positive or negative experience for you?
This question got a resoundingly positive response.
Some have established what they want going forward, “I have had time to rethink how I want to work, and prefer to have the freedom and less pressure of being in the same place at the same time every day.”
Even the workaholics found clarity, “It’s allowed me to schedule my life around activities that add value to it and not solely those that revolve around work.”
While some of us would like to avoid the commute to the office forevermore, others embrace the “alone time”.
Thankfully, whether we’re at home or the office, the digital age has made it possible to thrive wherever we are.
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