Employees would appreciate guidelines on how to work from home

The Now Normal Survey captures professionals' thoughts about remote working.

One of the best things that companies can do to better enable remote working is to provide employees with a set of personal wellness guidelines, as well as guidelines around team working agreements or social contracts. This is according to The Now Normal Survey Report, conducted by IQbusiness, which offers insights into how organisations are implementing and coping with remote work. 

The survey explores the extent to which people are working remotely now compared to pre-lockdown arrangements and how companies are empowering their employees with tools and skills to achieve daily tasks and deliverables. It also explores the effects of remote working, specifically in terms of productivity, collaboration, and adaptability. 

From a sample size of 387 individuals who represent various sectors - the majority of which the banking and financial services (30.2 percent), consulting and strategy (20.8 percent), and ICT (18.3 percent) sectors - the survey sought to garner insights from professionals about how they were acclimatising to remote working. 

The survey was taken during lockdown level4 and almost half (47.1 percent) of the respondents had never typically worked remotely before the onset of the pandemic, thus stressing the extent of the adjustment that many individuals are facing. Meanwhile, 85.7 percent of respondents were working remotely only, with a further 10.1 percent working remotely on some days. This means that almost 96 percent of the respondents were experiencing the benefits and challenges of remote working.

“With organisations forced to adapt to what we call the Now Normal, it’s important that we investigate this new level of stress to gain a rich, textured, and objective perspective on the matter,” says Biase De Gregorio, Managing Partner at IQbusiness. 

“After reviewing the results, one thing became abundantly clear: organisations need leaders to effectively support and enable their employees and in turn, continue servicing their customers. The sustainable approach to working remotely can only be achieved through focused leadership interventions where the mental and physical wellbeing of their people are prioritised.

With remote working here to stay, 78.5 percent of respondents indicated that they would like to continue working remotely (at least rotationally) post-lockdown. This will undoubtedly have a significant impact on processes, structures, policies, and company culture. However, as the report states, if companies do not welcome this change, “they risk a potentially adverse impact on employee motivation and retention.” 

With 92.4 percent of respondents indicating that team productivity either stayed the same or improved, this might be motivation enough for leaders to consider a flexible working schedule in the future. In order for businesses to survive, strong and optimistic leadership will be required to help drive more favourable business outcomes, maintain customer experience, and the business’s willingness to adapt and empower employees at every level.

Furthermore, the report highlighted various factors where organisations need to focus their energies to create a sustainable and better remote working environment, with a better work-life balance ranking at the top (42.1 percent). However, the report suggests that organisations and individuals need to move beyond work-life balance to that of work-life integration. Work-life integration should be considered an opportunity for employees to shed pre-defined roles and assume a blend of work and life that they are comfortable with. When executed effectively, this can create engaged employees and reduce unnecessary stress.