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Will Remote Work Be the New Normal?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of working at home?

By guest blogger Maggie Kimberl.

We’ve seen a rapid and necessary shift toward remote work in the last several weeks. Some of the transitions haven’t been very smooth, and we’ve seen story after story of companies asking inappropriate things of their staff, such as answering calls from unknown numbers immediately and being available for a video conference at any time. Working remotely presents challenges to any business, but the way to successfully meet those challenges is to focus on building trust.

Remote Work Is the New Normal

Last year one in ten Americans worked remotely at least once per week. But remote work has been shown to have amazing benefits to both workers and businesses. Workers who work remotely report better work and life balance, increased productivity and focus, and even a reduction in stress levels.

Businesses benefit from remote work, too. Having fewer workers in offices cuts costs, and making remote work available to employees makes a company a more desirable place to work. What’s more, if remote working is the norm, there’s also a larger pool of potential employees from which to choose as there’s no need to stick to geographical confines.

But these days remote work is more of a necessity than a luxury. People are being asked to socially distance as much as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19, and without a vaccine, office workers may be working remotely for the next year or more.

Success Requires Building Trust

Imagine how you would feel if your world suddenly turned upside down because a deadly virus was sweeping the globe. In the midst of all that you’re unsure whether you will have a job for much longer as your office shuts down and sends you home to work. Then your manager lays out a strict protocol for checking in and answering your phone. If the stress of the pandemic isn’t enough to get you down, micromanaging certainly will.

In times of uncertainty, stress levels can run high. Managers can become overzealous and workers can overwork themselves in an attempt to prove their loyalty.

That’s why it’s so important to treat this difficult transition with empathy. Understand that people are struggling for many different reasons, and the last thing they need is to feel further jeopardized.

Showing remote workers they can be trusted not only helps them to make a better transition to remote work, but it can also help build a stronger business in the long run.

People operate better when they feel they are trusted versus feeling distrusted. Trusted employees say they feel:

  • 106 percent more work-related energy
  • 76 percent higher engagement in work tasks
  • 74 percent less stress about work
  • 40 percent less burnout

Fostering Trust May Keep Businesses Going

Currently, 67 percent of employers are helping workers transition from in-person to remote work. Some 53 percent of employees who are able to keep their jobs and also work safely from home believe that remote work will have a positive impact on their lives, while 78 percent feel their health is being safeguarded.

The reality is that it may not be safe for many workers to return to office settings for some time, and keeping business going will require fostering a high level of trust. Studies show that giving employees autonomy increases productivity rather than decreasing it; this unexpected transition may end up having a silver lining.

Learn more about the psychology of trusting remote workers here.

Maggie Kimberl

Director of Promotions, NowSourcing, Inc. | @LouGirl502

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