In the world of Business Transformation, Organisations need to adapt to not only be competitive, but to survive. In today’s reality, in light of the latest ‘COVID-19’ pandemic that has resulted in a worldwide isolation, and for those that can, ‘Work From Home (WFH)’ model is more prevalent than ever.
In this post, we will discuss this WFH model, the cause, impact, challenges, who (type of Organisation) would benefit the most, pros and cons, and what you need to do so you are prepared, it not, how to take advantage of the situation.
The Corona Pandemic has drastically changed the work environment today. Since the corona virus outbreak, more than tens and millions of workers around the globe are forced to work from their homes to make ends meet. Remote employment has become the new norm – but the real question is, will it last?
Though the trend of taking work outside the office has been discussed plenty of times before in the past, it has now become a reality – thanks to the global pandemic. This global experiment will most likely turn out to be a huge success, leading to the swift revolution of the labor market. Needless to say, the road to this technological revolution won’t be easy! The modification will inevitably leave a drastic impact on several businesses whilst giving birth to new social challenges.
Did you know that in 2016, a Chinese agency consisting of 16,000 employees tried to implement the work from model into their organization and saved up to 1000 dollars per employee in expenses? These are some massive savings! However, there was one huge obstacle that the employees could not overcome – isolation. (We will talk about this later in the article.)
Numerous studies in the past have been conducted to see how the remote work model works in the favor of employees and businesses alike. The findings were quite astounding to say the least. Employees that work from home are a lot happier, satisfied and productive compared to those that have to commute daily to work. The reasons behind these findings could be plenty – less office politics, less time-wasted, less interruptions caused by petty meetings, reduced peer pressure, etc.
Given that remote work greatly boosts employee performance, does it really make sense for businesses to resist the new change? We don’t think so.
The truth is businesses will experience a great financial and economic impact with the new change. If you are a Business Owner, Leader or Manager, the question is ‘How you choose to deal with the change makes all the difference!’
The impact will be massive, to put it mildly. The current pandemic has shaken large corporations to their core in literal terms.
Apple experienced a huge shortage in the supply of goods as their largest producer in China, Foxconn, cut off its operations. This has (and probably will) result in great losses for the company. Major tech events and conferences, including MWC, have been called off – resulting in huge economic losses and opportunities for new partnerships. The delay of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 and loses due to lost bookings and rescheduling has yet to be calculated.
Putting it into simple terms – the intensity of the impact will be different for businesses and employees depending on the industries they’re operating in. Let’s first start by discussing the radical change occurring to the labor market.
Things that seemed important before – the employee’s dress code, the staff arrival timings and the duration of lunch breaks – will no longer remain significant. The only thing that will be closely monitored is the productivity of the employees and the results achieved.
With the entire hierarchical structure of organizations shifting to achieve digital business transformation, employees will have to adapt accordingly with a digital approach and mindset. Task management, consistent communication, simplification of work agreements and closely monitored results will be the new ‘IT’ thing.
This would indefinitely reduce the amount of office employees by one-third – making unemployment a potential issue. Unemployment will gain a whole new meaning, as educated people may also remain jobless due to the narrow demand for workers.
If the current crisis lasts for more than one year, the state’s and public’s focus will shift from economic growth to sustainability. People will start building their own office space, leading to a high demand for homes that could be turned into a home-office (real estate agents – gear up!).
Not everyone can arrange for a separate space, so for most employees, their go-to option would be co-working spaces. Most studies indicate that employees thrive in such collaborative working environments. Needless to say, this field has HIGH potential now that the working model has unexpectedly changed.
Facebook and Skype calls are good, but they cannot match the intensity of face to face interactions. As mentioned above, one of the biggest challenges employees have to face with the new work-from-home model is isolation. This is what we see as the top five (5) challenges:
- Social bonding – their relationship with their coworkers will suffer the most – which means that they will miss out on the basic opportunities for social bonding;
- Isolation – the isolation will steadily creep up into their daily lives – making them feel more lonely and deserted. This will especially be hard on extroverts that thrive in the office environment;
- Team building – team building will also become more difficult with employees sitting miles apart from each other. This problem, however, can be reduced by opting for co-working spaces or working in places like coffee shops and investing in apps that promote collaboration,
- Work-life balance – another great challenge, is time management and achieving a healthy work-life balance. In the traditional work environment, you get paid for showing up – however, in the new work model, the focus will be on the results. Thus, establishing a proper work routine is crucial to achieve the set targets, and lastly
- Technology – sudden breakdowns and technical difficulties can halt the entire ‘WFH’ operation, posing the greatest challenge – and having no IT guy at your disposal does not help either.
Companies and employees will have to work together to overcome these challenges and establish an effective work culture.
4. Who Would Stand to Benefit the Most from This?
Organisations offering cloud computing are going to benefit the most from this situation. With employees working from home, more and more companies will be forced to embrace digital transformation and migrate to the cloud to move forward with their operations – making Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure the clear winning candidates here! And once you jump onto the cloud bandwagon – there’s no turning back!
Ecommerce stores are likely to experience a huge bump in their operations, as everything goes digital after this pandemic. Online video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu are going to benefit the most (if they haven’t already) – driving more consumers and subscriber additions.
According to eMarketer, spending on digital ads will likely grow by 13% this year. The reason behind this is simple – consumers are spending a majority of their time at homes, and so the consumption of digital media will see a seismic increase – resulting in huge profits for digital marketing agencies. Ad supported video streaming services such as Pluto TV and Roku Channel will also see a sharp increase in streaming hours and usage. And how can we forget our plain old YouTube!
Online grocery stores and delivery services are already enjoying a lot of attention – marking the birth of the increased potential that now lies in these niches.
Apart from that, the eLearning industry will reap MASSIVE benefits from this new model, as most schools and universities have already gone online – replacing face to face learning with virtual means. Traditional books will be replaced by interactive digital learning systems. In fact, Russian companies such as Mail.ru have already started investing in this area.
5. Who Would be Disadvantaged?
Did you know that foot traffic to retail stores in the US has decreased by a whopping 97%? This indicates that business operations for retail stores have reached a drastic halt! Businesses that require foot traffic, such as Wal-Mart, Target, Subway and McDonalds, are likely going to experience a HUGE HIT – since everything from groceries to hardware is being purchased online. Subsequently, food vendors supplying lunch services will experience a drastic decline in their sales if employees start working from home.
Businesses that work in the event planning sector will either have to close down their operations (and bear great losses) or transform their business strategy and go digital – which brings us back to the point of how digital marketing agencies can leverage this opportunity to hit the mark. Google is already one step ahead of the others and has a virtual meeting in place – Cloud Next 2020.
B2B marketers are already experiencing a huge hit, as in-person events hold high significance for such companies and major events have already been called off, including Milan’s Salone Del Mobile annual international furniture show, a staple event of the high end interior design world, the first time in its history is cancelled this year, to resume another next year.
The consumer behavior is changing rapidly, and in order to remain relevant, businesses must reform their current strategies – they need to go digital to rescue their business!
Here’s our list of Pros and Cons (and tips in there how to take advantage of the new model):
- Cost Savings – Companies can achieve incredible cost savings by employing the work from home model. Less office space will be needed, which drastically reduces the overhead expenditures. Plus, businesses won’t need to invest in office supplies either, resulting is abundant cost savings – especially for businesses in the IT sector;
- Reduced Distractions + Greater Flexibility = Increased Productivity – Perhaps the greatest advantage of working from home – the time spent commuting is the time spent working. The traditional mode of work cannot match the flexibility that comes from working from home. In addition, when set up right, there are little to no distractions when working from home, resulting in a focused mindset and enhanced productivity. Employees do not have to worry about the office politics either – which eases most things. Not everybody is able to handle the negativity that comes from a toxic office environment;
- Chances of a Positive PR – Who doesn’t want to go viral in this age (in a positive light, obviously)! Yahoo, for instance, generated a lot of attention when they stopped their work from home program – though most of the reactions were negative. Who knows, you might go viral for doing the exact opposite?;
- Better Market Insights Due to Increased Outreach – You will be able to gain increased insights into the local markets with employees working all around the globe and devise successful marketing campaigns as a result, and
- Boosts Employee Loyalty and Satisfaction – Employees often skip work when suffering from a minor illness like common cold and food poisoning. But will they show up when working from home? YES (since they don’t have to commute to work). Another plus? Others won’t contract the illness. Employees enjoy the flexibility that comes from the new work model and thus stick to their organization. And less employee turnover means less money spent on hiring and recruiting.
- Isolation – One of the biggest downsides of working from home is the feeling of isolation that comes from the new model. This in turn affects the employees’ mental health – making them feel more secluded from the organization and lowering their job satisfaction. It may also cause anxiety in certain cases – which may leave a negative impact on their productivity;
- Information misinterpretation – Employees may misinterpret certain key points, which may lead to errors and productivity delays;
- Exploitation – Employees may exploit the arrangement – they might not attend the full shift or focus on the tasks at hand without being watched. The best way to combat this issue is by setting up productivity goals and conducting regular on-time checks of the progress being made;
- Motivational Issues and Achieving a Work-Life Balance – Employees tend to go overboard when working from home and find it hard to establish a proper work-life balance. It is important to define the work-hours and stick to them. Family and children can often be one of the biggest distractions, so having a dedicated work space – separate from all the chaos – will be ideal, and
- Security Concerns – the loss of an employee’s laptop can result in great damages for the company in terms of the data. Sometimes, employees may end up stealing the company’s data. Zoom calls were recently hacked, putting company data at risk but Zoom Company quickly responded to curb the hacks. Such risks can be mitigated by investing in VPNs, remote-wipe apps, encryption software and choosing a trusted technology provider, for all your technology requirements.
So there you go, is the new Work From Home (WFH) Model here to stay? Depending where you are on this transformation journey towards it – whether you are just started, mid-way through, or fully implemented, hope that helps you understand the landscape, what to expect as your company changes both its business model, but also the impacts it has on the corporate culture!
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