Are you ready to go back to the office?

The COVID-19 crisis has forced many companies to think about working from home. The pandemic and the use of videoconferencing globally has shown that remote working is finally here, to stay.

There is still resistance, however: Only 22 per cent in Cyprus believe in the importance of adopting digital technologies to support remote working and collaboration. This is 10 percentage points less than at global organisations.

Most businesses were reluctant to permit working from home as they did not have confidence in their own ability to manage remote workers, not being able to measure productivity or simply not addressing it as an investment priority.

Since February 2020, the start of the pandemic most global companies operating in Cyprus developed and shifted to remote-working. Whereas, only half of local businesses investment priorities have shifted to enabling employees to work in a remote environment.

A survey conducted in China in March 2020 showed that, on average, more than 60 per cent of work communication took place online during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, many Chinese companies rapidly adopted local productivity solutions such as Alibaba’s DingTalk or WeChat Work.

Almost 80 per cent of businesses here believe that they need to rethink productivity and performance measures as the traditional ways of measuring productivity no longer work in Cyprus

When the pandemic left them no choice, business embraced the shift to remote working despite serious challenges across their operating models for people, processes and technology.  With some leaders establishing clear objectives and a common purpose to keep everyone on the same strategic course.  In a changing workforce, only a third of businesses believe the importance of helping leaders develop management and leadership skills to support remote working.

In the post crisis future, many organisations will continue to leverage telecommuting. Recently, up to 60 per cent of employees surveyed globally want to continue to work remotely.

Remote working could be a key enabler for companies to more effectively deploy their workforce. Virtual approaches to work can also be a competitive advantage to attract a wide array of employees, including professionals who want more flexible lifestyles, as well as broader international or cross city talent.

The crisis has accelerated the trend as businesses had to quickly embrace remote working. It is more important than ever before to undertake reskilling, as one third of local businesses believe in the importance of reskilling and upskilling to maintain resilience for the future and to support agility.

With 2020 behind us, Zoom meetings and kitchen-tables-turned-classrooms-and-home-offices will continue for some time in the new year. Though critical to surviving the crisis, these measures are taking a toll on employees.  Pandemic fatigue can result not only in low productivity, anxiety, and stress.

Business leaders may present that working from home is too distracting or doesn’t support group creativity and team spirit and start floating requirements for employees to come back to the office as soon as the second lockdown is over.  On the hand some experts project that the remote work trend is here to stay as a significant portion of employees are expected to remain remote workers in the post-Covid world. Both scenarios can trigger a challenge for organisations and employees alike.

What if you don’t want to go back to the office?