By Braulio Giron, Jr. on March 20, 2020
Fulfilling jobs at home instead of the office is the new world of work, and the following are some challenges many are likely facing
In response to the uncertainty coming from the Covid-19 pandemic, schools, private businesses, and public institutions all over the world have had to have their employees fulfill their work at home. While this not quite a new concept, it was mostly applicable to certain jobs and job-levels and not quite the standard-operating-procedure being applied because of our circumstances now.
Of course, it is always ideal to establish remote-work policies and conduct related training in advance, in times of uncertain circumstances, proper preparation is understandably not easy to achieve. This is may pose even bigger challenges for employees, as many either have jobs not traditionally fulfilled remotely and/or have living spaces that are not quite designed to serve as an office.
So as making sure employees are equipped with laptops, cell phones, and have the needed bandwidth on their internet connections to sustain communication and get work tasks done, there may be some aspects to WFH arrangements that may also make the transition bumpy.
Reduced personal supervision
Both managers and employees have legitimate concerns when it comes to the lack of immediate face-to-face interaction that is typical of working remotely. On one hand, those tasked to supervise are often concerned that employees will not work as hard or as efficiently as they would at the office. Research, of course, has implied the opposite, where some work better at home. Well, in some jobs anyway.
On the other hand, employees or associates can sometimes feel that some managers tend to be out of touch with their needs, especially when they don’t see it. Eventually, this can result in the said lack of support or helpfulness from the latter that the former needs to better get their work done.
Lack of context
Employees, especially those working remotely for the first time, are often not as ready to deal with the added time often needed to acquire— and provide— co-workers with information. Even getting answers to a seemingly simple question like who has what document can feel like a large task to accomplish.
This becomes particularly challenging when it becomes interpersonal, where the lack of knowing how each is doing because everyone is working remotely. When most correspondence is done via e-mail or direct messaging, there can be a lack of context, leading to misunderstandings that, while minimal, can be another unnecessary aspect to put up with at work.
For example, when we know a co-worker is swamped with other tasks and meetings, we are a little more understanding if they don’t respond to our questions or requests as promptly. However, when we have limited understanding of their circumstances (or just outright don’t see it), we are more likely to be less understanding at best, and find them unprofessional at worst.
Feeling a little lonely is one of the common drawbacks of working remotely, especially when done at home and— in most cases for now— alone. It is already one thing to miss the informal social interaction of the office, it is also another to miss social interaction in general.
It is often assumed that extroverts may feel the effects of being isolated the most, but given enough time working from home and, again, lone, and working remotely can make any employee feel disconnected from their job and the people they work with.
Distractions at home
Internet stock photos typically show work-from-home scenarios as an employee comfortably working from the sofa or successfully living their work and home life at the same time. This can be the farthest from the truth, and actually sets the wrong expectations about how it actually is to work from home.
For one, experienced WFH employees recommend having a dedicated workspace to save us from distractions from other aspects of the home (like television) and have adequate childcare before embarking on a remote career. However, in the case of a sudden transition to a WFH set-up (like now), then it should be understandable when employees will have to contend with the distractions that come with a sub-optimal workplace like the kids being because there is no school.
Even under ideal circumstances, working from home can be distracting, but even more so when the arrangement is sudden and embarked on by employees who are not used to it.
How Employers and Managers Can Further Support Employees
Indeed, work-from-home arrangements (especially in this stressful time of the Covid-19 pandemic) can be fraught with challenges, there still ways that companies can ease the transitions, both for themselves and their employees. Actions that can be taken immediately include
Tech offers a variety of ways to make working from home more convenient and is actually the reason that the “industry” has flourished. These include Free tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or Discord for video conferencing; Trello or Notion for project management; Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram, Messenger, or Google Hangouts Chat for communication.
They make communicating with team members much easier, as well as make keeping track of tasks and correspondence much more efficient.
Create some structure
It’s tempting to begin and end work at any time when working from home, but in these days can also be challenging to even do. Employers can establish some structure for employees, by having them begin work like the would an office.
Using any of the previously mentioned communication tools, managers can have members “check-in” as they start their day, and check on anyone who doesn’t do so to make sure they are okay. Those same tools can help in conducting weekly meetings, which for its part will allow everyone to communicate further and still feel invested in the team/company.
Provide encouragement and support
The previously mentioned communication tools are great to have, but it is important to make sure that employers also use this to not just get tasks done, but also to check on employees individually and have them communicate anything that they need or feel.
When working from home, it can be easy to lose sight of how colleagues are doing because, well, the can’t be seen. So while their body language and other cues can’t always be observed, it is then paramount to check on everyone from time to time, to make sure they are in a place to continue contributing to the company while also ensuring their own health and safety.
With that said, Kalibrr would like to add its own words of encouragement: we’re all in this together. As employers and employees navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important to remember that while we are required to keep socially distant, no man is an island, and supporting each other goes a long way.
Kalibrr is a technology company that aims to transform how candidates find jobs and how companies hire talent. Placing the candidate experience at the center of everything it does, the company continues to attract the best talent from all over, with almost three million professionals and counting. Kalibrr ultimately connects these talents to companies in search of their next generation of leaders.
The only end-to-end recruitment solutions provider in Southeast Asia, Kalibrr is headquartered in Makati, Philippines, with offices in San Francisco, California, and Jakarta, Indonesia. Established in 2012, it has served over 19,000 clients and is backed by some of the world’s most powerful start-up incubators and venture capitalists. These include Y Combinator, Omidyar Network, Patamar Capital, Wavemaker Partners, and Kickstart Ventures.