It goes without saying, but it’s safe to say that the job market has shifted massively from the start of 2020 to the end. We’ve now lived through a year that’s contained multiple lockdowns and a multi-tier system that’s irrevocably changed the very way we navigate through the work environment.
And while there are now strong movements being made on vaccines being distributed to the public that allow us to be optimistic towards the future, it remains a real reality that remote working for the vast majority will continue well into 2021 and beyond.
“Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021”- Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics
As businesses become more attuned to the prospect of employees being able to split their time equally between both office and remote working, it’s important to return to the topic that dominated headlines throughout the early part of 2020 – How do we best navigate around remote working?
It’s very easy to fall into the habit of relaxing your everyday routine when you initially find yourself working from home. After all, why would you prepare for a full workday when you’re not in an office surrounded by others?
But if we consider the recent 2020 state of work report which states that 18% of people working from home find themselves struggling to unplug after the workday is over, it’s clear that there needs to some form of a shift in place that helps clearly define when your workday starts and ends.
One such example that might be useful in helping to define this shift, is ensuring you have a dedicated workstation in place that is strictly defined as being the place you operate out of, so you can both mentally and physically “leave” work when the day ends.
Another could be ensuring that the start and end of your workday are punctuated by a change in clothes from a “work uniform” – a different set of clothes from your everyday loungewear (or even pyjamas) that while not necessarily stringently following the same formal rules of an office environment, again help to provide a shift from your personal life to business life.
Communication is in many ways the cornerstone upon which good business can thrive on. Every employee being on the same page regarding the company’s goals and objectives makes for not only a streamlined and efficient team, but also a unified and collaborative one.
“Employee productivity increases by 20 to 25% in organizations where employees are connected” - Mckinsey & Company
This becomes all the more important when we include remote working into the mix, with it being an organisation’s responsibility to ensure that every employee feels valued and involved. Consider for example the report by the state of remote work, which states that 20% of those surveyed feel that one of the biggest struggles of working remotely is feeling alone.
To help counter this, its’s crucial that communication is regularly and consistently upheld across a business and that teammates are made to feel that their employers care about but only their professional output, but also their personal well-being.
The team at MRJ for example, have implemented regular video calls and team chats throughout the day that serve to not only provide updates on work matters, but also chances to communicate with each other more casually.
It’s in these small interactions that community can be upheld within an organisation which nurtures both business productivity and mental wellbeing.
The MRJ team meetings are used primarily to promote a sense of community within the business, however, they also serve as a perfect encapsulation of the overall theme that has been recurring throughout this article – and that is the important role that structure plays when remote working.
Without the rigid confines of the workplace to stop us, it’s very easy to slip into bad habits and get caught into the mindset of “Oh I’m at home, I’ll just take an extra few minutes for my lunch”.
And while one of the many advantages to remote working is that we’re afforded more flexibility in terms of workloads, it remains a harsh truth that for productivity to be maintained there needs to be some sense of structure to your workday. This structure can manifest itself in a variety of different ways – from your choice of a workstation to the frequency at which you communicate with your team.
In general, though, creating structures regarding remote working is all about defining clear and precise boundaries upon which you can follow and stick to.
But remember, amongst the changing landscape of jobs and the uncharted territory of normality both ceasing and desisting, it’s important to be reasonable with yourself. This is a marathon not a sprint. And while we’ve had a year of remote working now firmly behind us, don’t let that allow you to put undue pressure upon yourself.
The construction of new work routines take time, but with careful concessions, you’ll be able to establish a new way of operating that works for both you and the business you’re employed at.