The spread of the corona virus has had a profound effect on various aspects of human life. One of these areas that has undergone sudden and large changes is the area of jobs. Many people have been forced to work remotely, and many who have not had such an opportunity have lost their jobs. Now that the situation is gradually returning to normal with the general corona vaccination, the question has been raised in the minds of many as to whether they can continue to work remotely after the corona. Join us to discuss this question.
Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the world, “telecommuting” was an abandoned word and few people practiced telecommuting. Experts at the time were debating the pros and cons of telecommuting, but there was no real model to test those theories. Now, two years after the corona outbreak, it is better to get a picture of the pros and cons and challenges of telecommuting. The corona virus broke the shackles of our minds and hands, and we had to work in different ways; Hence, it has changed the structure of organizations and our attitude to work.
Recently, the results of comprehensive research in this field have been published, which shows in which jobs telecommuting has become more and better and which jobs have faced more challenges. On the other hand, these researches have also sought the opinion of the leaders and managers of organizations in order to better understand how decision makers think about telecommuting in the post-corona world.
The benefits of telecommuting were recognized during the Corona
We have already talked about the benefits of telecommuting for businesses and employees in various articles on the site. Two examples of these benefits:
- Balancing the work and family life of employees;
- More employers have access to labor.
However, in the last two years, with the expansion of telecommuting around the world, new dimensions of the benefits of this work model have been identified. One of these benefits has been the increased performance of introverts during quarantine. Extensive telecommuting showed managers that introverts performed better during this period.
For introverts, being in the workplace and interacting with employees and managers is stressful, and this stress always affects their performance, but during the period of forced telecommuting, we saw them become more active in virtual meetings and interact better and more with colleagues.
Another benefit has been the deepening of the work. During this period, employees were more focused on their work because they were less exposed to distractions in the workplace. The result was an improvement in their performance.
Concerns and Challenges of Teleworking in the Corona Age and Their Solutions
Of course, in addition to the benefits, telecommuting also created concerns and challenges that were not previously known in the telecommuting field. Here are some of them:
1. Need to change performance appraisal models
Examining employee performance in the workplace, for many managers A matter of course Is. But in an age of widespread telecommuting where face-to-face communication is not possible, how can employees’ performance be assured and their performance properly evaluated? This question was a challenge for many businesses, especially those with less telecommuting experience.
To solve this problem, managers tried to make their performance appraisal system more goal-oriented or result-oriented. This means that people’s performance is evaluated by following their virtual footprint. One of the unexpected advantages of telecommuting for managers was that people had to register their work in a virtual work environment in the form of data. On the other hand, their activities could be monitored and recorded. Therefore, managers tried to evaluate the performance of employees by following the virtual footprint. In the meantime, an interesting point was revealed; Employees who hid their poor performance in the workplace and in teamwork were identified.
۲. Need to create new ways of feedback
One of the requirements of telecommuting, which has been emphasized before, was to maintain the cycle of interaction and feedback. This issue became a major mental concern and challenge for many managers during the telecommuting era, as they now had to manage a large portion of their workforce remotely. Businesses tried to maintain their relationship with employees by using communication infrastructure and software and continue the feedback cycle.
3. Motivate employees
Despite the outbreak of the Corona virus and the sudden change in working conditions, many employees undoubtedly suffered from anxiety and stress. Under these circumstances, managers’ deep human skills such as empathy and the ability to motivate employees were challenged. During this period, managers experienced the best performance of their group, who managed to be a better listener for their employees remotely and to establish a better empathetic relationship with them.
Telecommuting in the post-Corona era; Variables and challenges
Now that we are familiar with some of the extensive telecommuting experiences during the Corona epidemic, let us return to the first question: Will telecommuting continue in the future? The answer to this question is yes, of course, but each job field has its own needs and requirements, and therefore telecommuting capacity in that area depends on various variables, such as:
- Job activities and duties;
- Communication level;
- Managers’ view of telecommuting;
- Employee personality.
In the following, we examine these variables.
1. Managers’ opinion and philosophy about telecommuting
The results of a survey of 2,000 organizational managers show that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for businesses that want to continue telecommuting or make it a common practice in their organization.
For example, when 2,000 managers were asked how much they allow employees to work remotely, 45% said they would prefer employees to be at work for at least 2 to 3 days a week, while 28% said they would prefer one day to work. Maintaining organizational communication is enough, and only 5% supported full telecommuting.
Part of this difference in attitudes has to do with the personality traits of managers. For example, managers with an authoritarian attitude are less likely to telecommute employees, while democratic managers are more likely to cope with telecommuting. Also, the introversion or extroversion of managers is not ineffective.
۲. Type of job and job activities
Obviously, not all jobs can be teleworked, and this was evident during the epidemic, when governments exempted some jobs from quarantine. Most basic service occupations were in this category, such as:
- Municipal waste management;
- Food and agriculture.
Of course, there were also jobs that easily implemented the telecommuting program. Most of these jobs were in ICT or finance and business.
Between the two heads are a range of jobs that have become telecommuting, but there are serious doubts about their performance. Training and consulting are among these jobs. Although these jobs have telecommuting capacity, experience has shown that telecommuting harms the quality and performance of employees and related people. Most teachers, students, professors, and students complain about the low quality of education during e-learning, and international organizations are urging schools to reopen as soon as possible after universal vaccination.
Therefore, when planning to continue telecommuting in the future, one should pay attention to the type of business, its needs and the experience gained during this period.
3. Economic situation of countries
The McKinsey Institute’s research shows that developed countries with advanced economies have turned more jobs into telecommuters without significantly reducing job performance and economic output. There are several reasons for this.
1. These countries often have advanced and well-established communication infrastructures that enable high-quality telecommunications for the workforce.
۲. The type of economy in these countries allows telecommuting, for example the British economy is more based on trade and financial services, so the country can spend 33 to 46 percent of its time on telecommuting without a significant reduction in economic production. But a country like India can only devote 12 percent of its workforce to telecommuting. India has less power, as most of its approximately 500 million people work in agriculture and in-store services.
So in what country is your business located and how developed is that country should be considered in determining the future of telecommuting.
Hybrid telecommuting; Is the future telecommuting ?!
Over the past two years, employees and employers have gained more experience in this way of working, and now most of them want to be part of their work in the form of telecommuting while in the workplace. This is what researchers call the advent of hybrid telecommuting, just like hybrid cars that use two types of fuel. Hybrid telecommuting also combines face-to-face and telecommuting. In this way, businesses enjoy both the benefits of telecommuting and the benefits of face-to-face work.
Of course, to achieve hybrid telecommuting, businesses need to review and update their organization’s management, performance appraisal, and feedback cycle to keep up with this new approach. It is also important to know exactly what kind of activities can be done remotely without significantly reducing performance. A look at the personality of employees and their preferences is also necessary. Balancing telecommuting and face-to-face work to maximize the benefits of both is what determines the future of telecommuting in a business.