COVID-19 has been a truly unique healthcare emergency across the globe. With the disruption in normal daily life, the pandemic has also brought in a slew of transformations that have changed the way how companies function. Undoubtedly, one such major change has been the wide acceptance of remote working.
Global workforces across industries have had to adjust and adapt to remote working. Lockdowns being observed across the world in different phases has meant that the workforce could only rely on digital means to connect with each other and ensure business continuity. This has resulted in a huge spike in digital adoption across different departments including finance and HR. Looking at the present conditions, many companies are expected to not ask their employees to return to their respective workplaces before 2021. Even after that, it is expected that a big portion of the workforce would have the option of working remotely. It would be safe to say that remote working is here to stay.
What do the employees have to say?
This sudden shift to telework has also taken the employees by surprise. Adapting to this new normal has brought its own set of challenges ranging from lack of dedicated workspace to reduced collaboration amongst team members.
A recent study commissioned by SAP Concur, conducted across Asia Pacific, revealed that 88 percent of the workforce in India prefer to have the flexibility of working from home. While this shows promising acceptance among Indians, remote work can be a positive or negative development depending on the employee’s home environment. 69 percent of the Indian respondents said overall they feel more productive working from home, while 31 percent of respondents cited hindered communications with co-workers as one of the biggest challenges while telecommuting for an extended period.
Employees expect increased support!
Although the majority of employees enjoy the option to work from home, they want to be robustly supported by their organizations when doing so, both in terms of infrastructure and finances. Aspects like a mobile plan, broadband internet, IT peripherals, and dedicated workstations can substantially impact the employee’s ability to perform while working from home. More than two-thirds of respondents expect their employers to subsidize or fully pay for the expenses needed for a productive working environment at home. In addition to this, employees also expect their companies to bring in the necessary amendments to their HR and financial policies that could help reduce the burden of menial tasks. They also expect their employers to enable easy remote claims and safe integrated travel management, improve collaboration, and provide better IT equipment and services.
Room for improvement for companies
While companies do not have control over the pandemic, they can certainly choose to take the required steps to help their employees adjust to teleworking better, reduce stress and anxiety levels, and keep up the motivation and ultimately, productivity levels. Here are a few tips that can help the companies:
- Align system and tools – Organizations must make their infrastructure and processes conducive for remote work. This includes digitizing paper receipts, allowing vendors to invoice organizations directly for their employees’ purchases, and deploying experience management tools for better collaboration.
- Digital transformation – Companies should embrace digital adoption that can automate manual processes and help employees to cut down on menial tasks and focus on more meaningful and strategic tasks. The manual clunky paper led processes vs. consumer-grade tools like using a mobile to take pictures of the expense receipts and completing the claims request on laptops or mobile devices will speed up the process for employees in addition to simplifying things for managers when approving those claims. Digital applications that are mobile-friendly and offer great user experience go a long way in enhancing the overall employee experience and productivity.
- Review policies – Employees will incur certain expenses during remote working that would be different from the usual workplace scenario. Companies need to review their expense policies to ensure staff are properly reimbursed for items or services used to facilitate remote work. This would directly result in better employee satisfaction and increased productivity levels.
- Better collaboration between departments – It is not a secret that many employees are tense during the current conditions. To ensure that office work does not contribute to this, companies need to improve the collaboration between various departments that the employees frequently deal with – including HR, Finance, and IT. Almost 79 percent of Indian employees strongly link their overall finance and administrative experience and their overall satisfaction of working for their organizations.
Organizations certainly have shown a new appreciation for remote work. But organizations must also act now to create an ecosystem that will run and sustain under such an environment for an extended period. Employees would definitely need support to meet the expectations under these new conditions and thinking this through right now will provide organizations with an opportunity to smoothly navigating into the new and next normal.