April 29, 2020
By OrgChart Team
While remote workers were not uncommon, the coronavirus pandemic has forced some companies’ hands into moving more employees into a work from home situation. Office workers are being asked to remain at home in isolation while organizations struggle to navigate the ever-changing health environment. Even before the outbreak, remote working was on the increase, the Gallup “State of the American Workplace” found 43 percent of employees worked remotely in 2016 compared to 39 percent in 2012.
There are pros and cons to having a remote workforce and effective analysis and management can help mitigate the negative outcomes.
There are a few obvious advantages to working from home under normal conditions. By logging in at home, workers eliminate any time they may have spent driving or taking public transport to an office. That time can be allocated to carrying out their roles.
Not being constrained to a physical location can also offer a more flexible schedule. Family duties, chores and hobbies may be more easily accommodated. For an employer, the advantage of not having a workforce constrained by a physical location means the company can expand to retain talent outside of the commute range of an office.
While on the surface, remote working seems to offer more freedom, being tethered digitally to your business can sometimes make it harder to separate work and leisure time. When not physically present managers and colleagues have perpetual access to you and employees feel pressure to be constantly available. Over time this can actually increase work related stress.
Particularly in the present moment, swathes of employees who were abruptly called to work at home do not have work spaces set-up to perform their tasks distraction free. Many have the compounded challenge of having children or spouses at home with demands of their own.
Another consideration for the employee is the extent that not being a daily physical presence in the office affects chances for advancement or gaining company knowledge passed on orally. “If you are not in the office you run the risk of losing your management’s mindshare,” explained OfficeWork Software co-founder Joe Kolinger. “You are out of sight and out of mind. That becomes a problem in your opportunities for advancement.”
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review offered some research-based guidance on how managers can aid the transition of this new wave of remote workers. A daily check-in call can be established to alleviate the dual problems of getting the right information needed to do the job and feeling connected to management. Increasing access to collaborative technologies—such as video and chat apps Slack and Zoom—help to provide a richer, more personal level of communication within teams. Making time for social interaction and other emotional support was also found to be important. Allocating space during video conference meetings for informal chat can make up for that missing social interaction which comes naturally with physical proximity.
There are a few ways an org chart can help better manage a remote workforce. Having a clear vision of all employees and their responsibilities within the management structure gives visibility to everyone, whether they are physically present or not. Pulling in location and time zone data into a chart can help with organizing teleconferencing. Performance metrics can be studied to track the effectiveness, or otherwise, of work-from-home arrangements and where greater resources or training might be needed. Org charts can also be used to clearly display the participation in benefits related to easing the physical and mental challenges of working from home and measure their effectiveness.