Optimising the Benefits of Remote Working
In our recent article, The Challenges of Remote Working, we outlined all the challenges caused by Covid-19, affecting most organisations, managers and staff. We listed all the areas of focus to overcome these challenges and move towards a more effective future.
In this article we will focus on how individuals could take the opportunity to transform their own work practices to remain productive and engaged, whilst also exploring the impact this may have on the way we communicate, interact and collaborate with each other.
Recent Survey Results
In a very recent survey* conducted in Denmark with 1,500 responses, 55% of the survey respondents felt that life and work conditions were more difficult than before Covid-19, whereas 45% felt it was the same or better. 2 out of 3 respondents experienced home working as a novel work situation, which required adjustment.
A significant 43% found that they were more productive working remotely. This corresponds well with smaller surveys we have conducted and taken part in. Approximately half will feel more productive working remotely, and the other half will feel no change or less productive.
There may be lots of reasons for this, including personal circumstances, but there is certainly an opportunity to learn from the half that feels more productive in remote working mode.
Mono- versus Multi-tasking
One of the most obvious focus areas for the variation in productivity could be mono- versus multi-tasking.
We know that home working has proved to be more productive for the type of work that requires focus and concentration.
From our work with lawyers and academics, who prefer to work in smaller enclosed offices and who crave monotasking, we know that they spend the majority of their time multi-tasking while in the office. In fact, this is common across all types of knowledge work.
It seems that our workplaces encourage juggling multiple tasks and demands, and where this can be stressful for the individual, it can also feel good. It even feels productive (even though it isn’t). The brain gets a kick of dopamine, that ignites us with a feel-good factor every time we respond to a text, mail, etc., but the constant multi-tasking leaves our brains less effective for tasks requiring focus and concentration.
How Can I Optimise the Benefits from Remote Working?
We suggest the key is to pause and reflect on the learning from our experiences over the last couple of months, and use this to instil new work practices, share and discuss with colleagues, and use the momentum to transform your work and the way you work with others.
1. Reflect on the work you do: What is expected of you, and how were you expected to deliver while in the office? Have you discovered smarter ways of doing this now? If not, look at ways to modify processes, workflows, or your own work practices to suit both you and what you need to deliver.
2. Consider how you manage yourself and your work. Are you spending more time working than before and is this affecting your private life and commitments? It is important to maintain good physical and mental health, by not overworking and staying resilient.
3. Wherever appropriate, develop new work practices that suit both your new work environment, circumstances, and the tools available to you. The more digital these are, the easier it is to keep agile. It is also a chance to consider the best work pattern for a typical day and create habits. Most people benefit from some regularity.
4. If your meetings are mainly scheduled by others, how do you interact with others ad hoc? How do you ensure you still feel connected with your team, and can organise meetings ahead as well as interact spontaneously with colleagues?
5. Whether you are a manager or not, think about how you connect with the team, and how team members stay connected with each other. Everyone on the team will have diverse needs, so think about what you can do to help keep the team together. It is good for our social needs to feel part of the team.
We are encouraging everyone to carry out an introspection of their work and work practices during Covid-19. We believe there is a lot of learning to dig into, and we also believe that we are not going back to an old normal.
Hence, taking this opportunity to review the work you do, how you do it, and with whom you do it, will enable you to transition better into the new normal, and allow you to transform the way you work, and maybe even yourself.
Niels Kemp Rasmussen and Chris Kidd
Coaches at Kemp & Associates
*Danmarks Tekniske Universitet: ‘Experiences with working from home during Covid-19’