Working from home might be a dud to Covid-19 silver bullet
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INSIGHT by research firm Ipsos has revealed that Work From Home (WFH), which has become an established trend under Covid-19 lockdown requirements, might not be to the advantage of businesses as indicators point to slide in competitiveness as productivity slumps, employees lose motivation, cohesion of teams is eroded and managers struggle to keep their finger on the pulse.
According to Ipsos, managers reported concerns with WFH, saying they found it more challenging to manage their teams remotely, and they were fairly sure employees were not fully focused on their work.
This corresponds with the responses of employees themselves, with 55 percent reporting that teams don’t collaborate as well, that the same percentage takes more frequent breaks and that about 49 percent of respondents reported experiencing more interruptions at home.
“While many people say they prefer their home environment to the office and enjoy the flexibility of working from home, it’s quite clear that their performance can suffer and teamwork, especially, becomes much harder,” said Stella Fleetwood, Service Line Lead at Ipsos.
Issues of trust have also arisen as the absence of on-the-job training and a sense of isolation, which could lead to the decay of the organisational culture that many companies depend on for superior business performance.
“Younger employees were especially adversely affected by WFH, with respondents between the ages of 18 and 28 reporting that they experienced more distractions and interruptions at home, were not disciplined enough and were less motivated, leading to being less productive,” Ipsos noted.
About 67 percent of respondents said they were spending more time on domestic chores and errands and close to three out of 10 admitted they were not disciplined enough to work from home. Those aged 30 to 44 said working in an office built trust and made them feel more important to the business, while late-career respondents, between the ages of 45 and 55, found working from home easier and said they still made themselves presentable, despite not going to the office. Women, meanwhile, said they struggled with routine and other commitments and that they were taking more frequent breaks and felt less important. Men said they found teamwork more difficult, there was inadequate communication, and they had difficulty keeping teams motivated, while also spending more time in meetings.
Both men and women alike found completing tasks more difficult, requiring more effort.
Managers said they found it more difficult to monitor their teams’ performance and that their teams weren’t fully engaged with each other.
It is also more difficult to provide effective training and it is more difficult to execute day-to-day team functions. Managers also reported that team members tended to be less punctual and teams communicated less effectively when working remotely.
“Executives should be considerate of what employees are experiencing while working remotely.
“The new way of working does not necessarily mean better work-life balance, or a happier, more motivated workforce. Working from home could be putting productivity and business growth at risk,” Fleetwood said.
She said less than a third expressed a preference for working from home, while about 51 percent find it more stressful.
“We could also see higher churn within the workforce as employees lose their organic connection to colleagues and the business culture, and experience a loss of motivation, feelings of isolation, lower morale and stunted career development,” Fleetwood said.