Is Telecommuting the New Normal?

Ève Chaîné
January 12 2021
Stories

Forced to react following the first announcements about the pandemic, companies, supported by their HR teams, had to implement extraordinary measures in record time. Some more drastic than others, more than a quarter of Canadian businesses had to lay off staff because of COVID-19, according to a study conducted by Statistics Canada. However, due to their field of activity, certain organizations finally offered their employees the opportunity to work from home. Previously considered a privilege by many employers, working from home has taken over the daily lives of thousands of professionals. 

Several months after the rushed arrival of telecommuting and now an ongoing vaccination campaign, we asked ourselves : What will happen to telecommuting when the pandemic is behind us?

Escouade RH’s Opinion : Adaptation


When surveying Escouade RH’s community members on their opinion about work from home, one word was prominent: adaptation. Why “adaptation”? Bringing the office home is an adaptation in itself. Several members pointed out the fact that it is difficult to let go of work since it is constantly (too) accessible, regardless of the time of day. To this, add a workspace that is not quite ergonomic, and then trade your colleagues for your spouse, children and pets… That’s adaptation! Yet, some members have mentioned that they are more productive at home. Their explanation is simple: they can’t talk to their co-workers as soon as they have the chance, like at the office! However, there is a flip side to this. Zoom, Google Meet, Slack and even Messenger are no substitute for relationships between colleagues, even though these platforms allow us to stay in touch easily. The office is a place where we socialize, give and receive help as well as emotional support. The absence of the social aspect in daily life has been a big change for professionals now working from home. On the other hand, the schedule is definitely more flexible in telecommuting and some workers save precious time by avoiding the stress of transportation, for example. This flexibility even makes it possible to successfully complete a few daily tasks throughout the day. So, based on the last few lines, telecommuting is generally appreciated by many, but it is obvious that this work method requires adaptation in order to be optimal.

Knowing that 59% of Quebecers prefer to work remotely at least three days a week and that only 14% of Quebecers wish to return to their workplace, telecommuting seems to have seduced more than a few. After the pandemic, I dare to believe that telecommuting will persist. So, what aspects should we focus on to optimize it and reduce its irritants?

Communication


“Hello, I can’t hear you…”, “You’re on mute”, “It lags, I’m going to reconnect”… Communicating seemed at times chaotic in the last few months! Obviously, face-to-face communication between colleagues can never be totally replaced, but there are ways to strengthen communication in telecommuting. Here are a few ideas:

Schedule weekly meetings


The first step in scheduling a weekly team meeting is sharing agendas. By finding a moment that suits everyone, you ensure everyone’s presence. If necessary, you can even schedule more than one per week. Weekly meetings are ideal to share the latest information, ask questions and, of course, talk together as if you were in the office!

Tip: At the end of the meeting, summarize what was said. Therefore, you can make sure that everyone understood the same – and good – thing, and if not, try to communicate the information otherwise!

Socialize virtually


At the office you were used to taking your morning break around the coffee machine with your colleagues? Do it again, but virtually! Send a calendar invitation to schedule a moment to relax, discuss and put work aside for a few moments as drinking your coffee together! And why not do it again in the afternoon? After all, it’s important to take moments to breathe!

Do not neglect videoconferencing


We have a tendency to send emails or instant messages without asking ourselves too many questions. These communication channels are ideal for scheduling a meeting or for asking non-urgent questions. They are fast means of communication, but it is important to remember that these communication tools are fairly impersonal. The greatest advantage of videoconferencing is that you can see who you are talking to. We can see reactions, recognize emotions, demystify tone of voice, etc. The simple fact that you can see the person you are talking to makes communication much less arduous. 

Ergonomics


Not all telecommuting professionals have the opportunity to work from home in an ergonomic space. In the long run, a non-ergonomic work environment can have consequences on workers’ health. Neck, wrist, shoulder, and lower back pain, as well as visual fatigue, are common. In 2021, compensating employees for creating an ergonomic workspace will be considered a competitive advantage. This demonstrates a company’s commitment to the health and safety of its employees and helps increase employee engagement! As a company, an occupational therapist is an excellent resource to help you in your efforts. He or she will be able to support you and help your employees create a work environment adapted to their needs at home.

Productivity


The house is full of distractions and one can easily be tempted to ramble. To help you be as productive as you are at the office, get back to your pre-pandemic daily routine. Ask yourself: What in my routine helped me be productive at work? If you used to get up at 6:30 a.m. to quietly prepare and then get on with your day, do it! You used to stop at Starbucks before arriving at the office? Do it, but instead of going to the office, come home! And what about breaks… they are not to be neglected to remain productive! If necessary, set an alarm at certain times of the day and when it rings, get up, walk and do something else for a while.


After the pandemic, I believe that telecommuting will have proven itself enough to stay. The benefits of working from home will have been appreciated by many, despite the changes that will have been necessary beforehand. The key to success for these workers? Adaptation. And isn’t it a quality that managers like, the ability to adapt? Certainly, telecommuting is not for everyone and many companies are not adapted for it. Telecommuting was a marginal practice before the pandemic and organizations are now learning to manage it, as best as they can, in an extraordinary context. Following the pandemic, your employees may want to return to the office, and that’s a good thing! They may also want to continue to work 100% from home, so why not? Or they may want to work 50% of the time at the office and 50% of the time at home, and that’s fine too! Your employees are productive in their own way, and that’s to your advantage!

Make sure you are also equipped with a human resources management software that will allow you to optimize the management of your employees remotely.

Book your free demo today!

Share

related articles

Case studies
How an HR Software Helped an SMB Save $175,000 in One Year
Read more
Stories
Tips for Managing Remote Employees in 2021
Read more
Case studies
Choosing the Best HRIS for Your SMB: The Innovitech Case
Read more
Stories
Top KPIs in HR: Examples & Explanations
Read more
Stories
Vaccine Passports and Return to the Office: Our Advice
Read more
Human Resources Today