In 2020, 40% of Canadians worked remotely, four times more than in 2018. The pandemic was the catalyst, even though the world has been in the midst of a digital revolution for several years now. New technologies made remote work possible, but the business world was not ready to use it. Yet workers had expressed an interest in testing it long before the outbreak of COVID-19. Luckily for them, what was a wish became a reality overnight, even if companies were unprepared. Circumstances forced managers and employees to adapt by changing their habits and landmarks.
One year later, what are the results of remote work and, above all, what are the resulting opinions? Has it been problematic, or on the contrary beneficial?
Working remotely… no easy task!
You’ve certainly been feeling the effects of winter and the adoption of new restrictive measures in recent months. Remote work is becoming more and more complicated and you feel very unproductive. Balancing between your private and professional life is becoming more and more abstract and you feel alone, isolated from the rest of the world. All this weighs heavily on your mental health, which is starting to suffer. Although for many, the balance of remote work has been very easy to find, for others the task has been and remains more laborious, if not impossible to accomplish.
Our ways of seeing things and our living conditions are not all the same. Depending on personalities, family situations, geographical areas and social classes, the realities of remote work are not the same for all workers and this is where the limits are set!
Some disadvantages of remote work
- The corporate culture is being tested. Leaders need to reinvent themselves to motivate the troops and make sure their teams feel good, especially new employees who are not yet at ease.
- Communicating with colleagues behind a screen can be a source of frustration and stress. It’s hard to guess their reactions and emotions with a simple message or video conference call. Human contact is lacking, which makes communication much colder and more mechanical.
- Human beings are very complex, as we are not all the same. While some can cope with loneliness without any problem, others quickly feel isolated and this can lead to anxiety and even depression.
- Not having to travel to the office can lead to a decrease in physical activity. Getting from bed to work in just a few steps discourages many of us from going outside for a long walk or taking a “gym” break between e-mails. Over the long term, this can have a very negative impact on mental health.
- Remote work can blur the boundaries between work and home. It can be difficult to disconnect, especially when many of us are on the phone during our downtime; it also becomes difficult to resist the urge to respond to a business e-mail when you receive it.
- Not all having the same realities and living spaces, remote work can quickly become a nightmare. Whether it’s a house that’s too small or shared with several people that can be noisy and annoying. Whether it is the lack of equipment needed for work or the precariousness of the environment. The living space is not necessarily a space appreciated by everyone.
The pandemic has pushed everyone to look for new ways of working in an alarming emergency. This has often been difficult, even chaotic. But now, we are slowly learning to settle into new habits that we are shaping as we go along. Since remote work seems to be here to stay, we have to get used to it and get all the positive effects out of it. The future has never been less predictable, so it’s time to rethink everything we’ve built so far and move forward.
Teleworking is also and above all good!
Who has never dreamt of working at home in their pajamas? Being able to be at the office from home takes a fairly significant toll on mental health. No more long hours in traffic jams, jostling for public transportation and running in the rain or snow so we don’t miss the first meeting of the day. Now we are allowed to get a little more sleep in the morning and spend more time with our loved ones while we work.
Some advantages of telecommuting
- Working from home eliminates a potentially stressful commute. It has been reported that two-thirds of Canadian employees would take another job if it made traveling easier. Studies have found evidence that long commutes are linked to stress and hypertension.
- Remote work improves employee satisfaction. In fact, 80% of Canadian workers consider working from home to be a career benefit.
- It also reduces unscheduled absences. By working from home, employees no longer have to take time off when they feel sick. They can therefore work without having to worry about infecting their colleagues.
- Productivity is optimal since workers are no longer as stressed and overwhelmed as they used to be. This new system allows them to take the time to take care of their health and well-being.
- Remote work increases collaboration between teams. In order to work effectively without seeing each other, employees find clever ways to work better together and, above all, to facilitate their exchanges.
- This saves money, which has a positive effect on overall well-being. No more travel expenses and the purchase of lunches and coffees during the day.
- The digital transformation has made the experience of working at home easier by always staying connected and aware of what’s going on. It also allows for real-time document sharing and instant communication without the need for multiple tools. Everything is grouped together in our computer. Digitalization also gives managers access to better management of their teams remotely, without wasting time and energy.
Working from home gives us the opportunity to recover some of our time and money. It gives us the flexibility to work when it suits us and gives us a sense of freedom to perform other tasks throughout the day. A sense of autonomy contributes greatly to having a positive impact on emotional well-being.
Despite its limitations, remote work can be very beneficial in the long term. As with everything else, we just have to get used to it and take our bearings. Without ignoring the fact that our ability to feel connected is vital to our mental health. According to a report published by PwC, the labor standard in the coming years will be hybrid. This means that workers will no longer have to clock in and out of the office five days a week, but instead could alternate between working at the office and working at home to maintain a healthy balance. The office would thus become a social space to exchange more easily with colleagues and the home a workspace to finish tasks faster and more efficiently.
Will this new way of working be as beneficial as we think? Will companies succeed in adapting to it?