Having discussed how employees that work from home (WFH) can be protected by their employers, our focus now turns to how WFH challenges can be overcome. From a health standpoint, both physically and/or mentally, and from a security standpoint, challenges have arisen since the introduction of lockdowns. We reached out to the industry to find out how these problems have been overcome.
WFH or workation?
The pandemic and lockdown resulted in an increase in WFH. However, employees have realised that ‘WFH’ does not necessarily mean they need to work from ‘home’ specifically. Rather, they can work wherever they please.
However, this is not as simple as it first may seem as Zain Ali, CEO of Centuro Global, the financial and legal source, explains: “With the option of working from home now becoming the norm, we are seeing a rise in employee requests to work from anywhere, rather than just their home, for an extended period of time.
“However, with the employee not having a local entity, this type of ‘workation’ request can lead to a myriad of complicated considerations, including adherence to health and safety laws, ensuring they have appropriate visas or work permits, as well as tax and other company regulatory risks to take into account.
The answer is in the cloud
One of the biggest benefits of going to the office vs WFH is the ability to share things in real-time, instantly, without problems. You can call someone over to have a look at what you’re working on whereas when working remotely, someone has to be online at the same time as you. Even then file transfers can take a while. However, with the cloud, this issue can be overcome explains Piotr Kicinski, vice-president of Conotoxia, the Polish paytech.
How to build inclusive workplaces based on working from home, in which the employees work efficiently? The answer is…cloud. For several years, in our global fintech we have been successfully using cloud solutions, which were once a technological novelty but are today becoming a staple used by more and more companies.
“The transition to remote working has only confirmed that our choice was the right one, and we can offer our employees the comfort of working from anywhere in Poland, in the US, in Cyprus and other countries. Cloud applications have allowed us to exchange information quickly and easily, collaborate on the drawing up of documentation or share disk resources.”
Highlighting collaborative discussion
Communication is very difficult to master when working remotely. When in the office, you can close your office door if you don’t want distractions. However, when working remotely, you’re only a message away and that distraction can often stunt productivity. Doug Matthews, chief technology officer, FINSYNC, the paytech, points out the pros and cons of working remotely.
“A big challenge for remote workers is the lack of opportunity for collaborative discussion. Whiteboard sessions and impromptu conversations can be very productive for developing solutions to issues and implementing new ideas. Online tools for ‘whiteboarding’ and conversation exist but it’s really not the same as being in a room together. There is a dynamic that is missing in the virtual world.
“The inverse is also true. Constant communication via tools like Slack can be a productivity killer in work that requires deep thought. The expectations for synchronous vs asynchronous communication need to be clarified. For instance, it would not be unreasonable for developers to state a preference for periods of the time during the day when their ‘office door’ is closed to enable longer periods of concentration.
“Isolation is a challenge. Work is a major source of social interaction for most people. Working remotely decouples people from a large part of the incidental interactions they would have in an office. This is especially true with teammates in parts of the organisation they would not normally interact with in the course of their jobs. There is value in cross pollination of ideas in an organisation.”
The inability to communicate face-to-face might be the biggest problem facing WFH says Max Faldin, CEO and founder, Silverbird, the FCA-conducted e-money institution. Firms must ensure they provide remote workers an opportunity to meet face to face, in order to for them to learn each other’s approach to work.
“Truth be told, I was never a fan of remote work or four day-weeks. However, with the rise of remote work, and the flexibility it provides, it changed what we call work. The flexibility inherent in remote work renders the concept of traditional working hours somewhat obsolete. The focus has shifted from the number of hours worked to the quality and quantity of work output.
“In a sense, remote work is ushering in a new era of professional responsibility, compelling individuals to self-manage their efforts and performance. This is revolutionary, not just altering the way we work, but also how we perceive work and its value.”
“The main reason why we have office hubs in several locations is the opportunity for people to connect face-to-face on a more personal level. This is certainly harder when everyone is behind a screen. In-person collaboration speeds up the feedback loop and creates possibilities to foster relationships within and outside of the work context.
“These relationships then bring value-add effects in a team’s performance, people are able to relate to each other better and feel more closely a part of the team. This is also a major reason why we organise regular offsites to give our team members, especially those that are remote-first, the opportunity to get to know each other better, pick up on non-verbal cues from colleagues and develop a shared context of each other’s approach to work.”