2020 was a roller-coaster ride for nearly every industry as we all adapted to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic. I have been working as a QA Analyst in IT for almost a decade and one of the perks of my job is the ability to work from home (WFH). Although IT/technology roles are probably the most well equipped for something like WFH, before 2020 it was still regarded as a negative impact on productivity. So, what really changed this perspective in 2020? Let’s look at some major points that flipped this challenge into an opportunity.
- Managing Schedule: In a traditional office environment, team members would start their day when they arrived in the office and end it when they left, usually about 8 hours later. You had a set arrival time and set end time. In a WFH setting you have greater ability to manage and prioritize your workday and optimize your schedule for your individual motivation and energy levels. Working remotely which once was thought to hamper productivity has actually helped meet deadlines. The added flexibility and increased prioritization offsets the many distractions of being at home. Following structured schedules help team members to achieve their deliverables. Starting the day with a list of action items and sorting out priorities is a great way to measure productivity. As a result, organizations are seeing projects being delivered before schedule, which once was an unrealistic expectation. I had a Q&A session with some of my peers to see how they met their daily goals and pretty much got the same sentiment – they never expected for productivity to increase substantially while everyone is working remote.
- Work Life Balance: It’s true - WFH is helping to keep a work life balance. You heard it right, after speaking with some of my peers, I found that WFH is not only benefiting them professionally, but also helping them care for their personal wellness. For example, you now have the ability to break up your day easily if needed. Need a mental break from a project or time to meditate? Done! Just let your team know you won’t be available and log back in when you are ready. Having extra time in the morning is also a huge benefit, you can start your day earlier or even catch up on some sleep with the time you have from avoiding a commute. After working for 8 hours still finding time to attend online activities like Yoga for mental and physical wellness. Additionally, many organizations reported a sharp decline in absenteeism - especially sick leave. Performance and energy levels seemed to have surged as a result of better work life balance, and reduced commuting.
- Talent Management and Talent Acquisition: Some industries, which never considered WFH, were compelled to adopt some type of remote working policy. Hiring, onboarding, and training are a few examples of things that are now completed remotely. Less knowledge intensive services such as real estate, retail, education, and entertainment, which never explored remote working, are now finding it an efficient and more impactful tool for cutting cost.
Through the pandemic, Human Resources evolved their processes for managing and hiring resources. Our organization has begun exploring and finding different ways to keep our team engaged. We have had success through virtual lunches, happy hours, team lunches, town halls, game nights and so on. These virtual events have been garnering even more team participation than the in-person events because they are saving on commute time and solving childcare issues. Remote hiring has also become a blessing to recruiters – their reach is expanded beyond their current city and the candidate pool has become deeper since locality is no longer an issue.
As every coin has two sides, WFH also has its disadvantages. Distractions caused by family members, reduced supervision, and reduced coordination within the team are some of the top challenges employers are facing with a fully remote team. These can be addressed through appropriate training and direction to FLIP this challenge to opportunity.