COVID-19 Business Resource Series: Working from Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak
This blog is part of Tandem’s COVID-19 Business Resource Series, where we will update the community regularly and offer industry-specific tips as well as our best solutions to minimize the economic risk many businesses may endure during this critical time. Tandem appreciates your trust in us and will continue to be your valued digital marketing partner during this pandemic.
If your company has decided to do its part in flattening the curve of the coronavirus by working from home, your employees may have mixed emotions, especially if they are not used to remote work. At first, for the first few days anyway, the idea may sound great – sleeping in, no traffic on the way to the living room, and the freedom to wear PJs to work. Over time, however, employers and employees alike may find that working from home can become quite challenging.
Staying motivated becomes harder, focusing becomes harder, and that can make the average workday feel longer and less productive. So, how does your company successfully implement a remote work protocol during the COVID-19 outbreak? Our team of SEO marketing specialists shares the pros and cons of working from home as well as some tips that will help employees remain focused while working remotely.
Pros and Cons of Working Remotely
Allowing your employees to work remotely amid a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic is daunting, but imperative in preventing the spread of the virus. In order to ease the transition, implement the use of essential remote work tools. Once you establish the infrastructure, consider the pros and cons of working remotely for your organization and employees.
Pros of Allowing Employees to Work from Home
- Reduce the risk of virus exposure: Sending your employees to work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak is essential as more and more people contract the virus. Not only will your staff be less likely to get sick, but any employee who is under the weather will already be isolated. This reduces the risk of spreading the coronavirus to other employees or clients.
- Build trust and company loyalty: There is a large amount of trust that a company must have with their employees in order to allow them to work from home, even during a crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak. When you are not in the same physical location as your employees, it can be hard to make sure that the assigned tasks for the day are getting done, though task managers can make this a little easier. Working from home is also a great way to build company loyalty because it signals to your employees that you trust them to do the work required.
- Fewer social distractions: When employees are working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, there are fewer social distractions. At home, there are no office conversations or long chats in the kitchen that can take time away from work. Though a tight-knit team is always great for company morale, it can reduce the level of productivity in an office setting, especially one with an open layout. At home, each employee will be able to focus on their assigned duties and complete them on time. While this may be an advantage for some employees who find they can actually be more productive at home, other employees thrive in a more social work atmosphere and may struggle to adjust. In fact, many people who regularly work remotely, regardless of the current pandemic, suffer from loneliness, communication, and unplugging from work at the end of the day.1
Remote work is not just a trend that’s going away. These benefits are just a few of the reasons why more and more employees are opting to work from home. Working remotely has its share of disadvantages too, though. Companies and employees both have to understand the difficulties they could potentially face by working from home and find solutions to overcome these challenges.
Cons of Allowing Employees to Work from Home
- Potential security threats: While at work, your employees are most likely working on a secure server and Wi-Fi network. This means that company information is usually encrypted and is harder to hack. When employees are working from home, however, such security precautions are not in place. Though data breaches can happen anywhere and at any time, business owners are reluctant to allow employees to work from home for this reason. Luckily there are ways to combat this, like using multi-factor authentication for logins or establishing a VPN your employees can use.2
- Collaborating is more difficult: Collaboration is incredibly important for all organizations.3 If your company meets often to discuss clients or simply to brainstorm with each other, such as a digital marketing agency, the effort to collaborate becomes much harder the further away people are from one another. An office usually has a conference room available, but that’s not the case when employees are working from home; it becomes much more difficult for everyone to come together and discuss company matters and ideas. By utilizing any of the vast online resources out there, such as Zoom and Slack, you can mitigate these obstacles.
- Distractions: Though there might not be any water cooler conversations to have with coworkers from home, there are still plenty of distractions that can interrupt productivity. For most people, the work environment and the home environment are wholly separate. While coworkers can be easily distracted with conversations about the latest Bachelor episode or a fun Buzzfeed quiz, they can just as easily get back to work; leaders and other coworkers hold each other accountable for the work that gets done that day. Home, on the other hand, is a sanctuary, a place where employees veg out without a worry. As a result, some employees might feel too comfortable or distracted to work. When an employee is working on the couch, it’s so tempting to just lay down and take a nap or turn on the TV for a quick break before returning to work. Don’t lose your employees to the distractions and creature comforts of home. Instead, encourage employees to establish a designated workspace in their home (ideally not the couch) for better concentration and focus.
Managing a Company with Remote Employees
Though it may pose a new set of challenges, the best thing that your company can do at a time like this is to work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. This not only protects the company but your employees as well. Address any concerns about working from home with your team and develop procedures to manage remote employees and the workload. Make sure that everyone has the tools they need to succeed in order to work from home and maintain contact with the company, coworkers, and management.
Don’t forget the importance of everyone’s mental health during this trying time. There are plenty of resources available to help ease the stress of remote work, in addition to the anxiety and restlessness that occurs when people are cooped up,4 so make sure to urge your employees to utilize them if necessary. You will all make it out, together and stronger.
Other blogs in this series:
1Buffer – State of Remote Work 2019
2Center for Cyber Safety and Education – Stay Healthy, Stay Secure
3NutCache – The Importance of Collaboration in the Workplace