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A ‘good-to-have policy’ turned into a necessity, is how remote work emerged for most employers and employees in light of COVID-19. In a watershed moment in the global economy, the workforce went into the remote work setting almost overnight to ensure business continuity in the out-of-office mode.
Organizations and employees, alike, are trying to maintain ‘business as usual’ while tending to the health and safety of everyone involved, by working from home and connecting via video calls and other digital applications.
Remote work readiness can be defined as the level of preparedness of an organization and its employees to go remote. It considers the resources and skills required by employees to perform at optimal levels while working remotely.
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 took most businesses by surprise, without allowing them time to gauge remote work readiness of employees, counter the challenges of working remotely and devise a strategy to ensure remote workers’ productivity.
Transitioning to a remote work setting has presented a few challenges for employees across all levels.
Email, texts, chats, and other digital means of communication can often lead to miscommunication and hinder collaboration.
While managers may sense lower productivity levels among teammates, employees might be adjusting to the distractions at home and the lack of ready access to managerial and coworkers’ support.
The absence of social interactions can lead to a wavering sense of belongingness, motivation, even productivity.
The challenges of working from home include technological disruptions, such as system failure, power cuts, network disturbances, router outage, etc.
The onus of remote work readiness is shared equally by the organization and its employees. However, organizations can lend ease to the arrangement. Remote work readiness comprises two aspects – means and motivation – both of which must be offered by an organization. A remote work survey and a remote work assessment can ease this process for organizations.
A remote work survey is designed to help organizations survey their workforce and gauge essential parameters, such as the availability of resources, organizational support, clarity from their managers on their role and work, etc. Such a survey can help organizations reach out to their employees and make them feel heard and appreciated. It can help organizations understand their employees’ needs, the initiatives not bearing desired results and understanding what may be further needed. This can improve an organization’s effort by focusing and investing in the right areas.
A remote work readiness assessment is designed to help organizations determine whether their employees possess the necessary skills to work from home efficiently and productively. It can be based on a standard set of competencies or customized to an organization’s specific needs. The remote work assessment can help organizations chart a developmental path for employees and focus on who to train, what to train in, who can continue working from home even in the longer run, and which teams or individuals need to be called back to the office after normalcy is restored.
“A company needs to create a profile of soft skill competencies that is most beneficial for each role. For example, certain roles require a higher level of competence with teamwork, decision making, or innovation. In order to be successful, build your team’s competency at working from home, I recommend:
– Amy Lafko, Owner and Principal, Cairn Consulting Solutions, LLC.
Remote work has been gaining steady traction for many years, but organizations have continued to opt for a physical setup in support of the argument of employee productivity. However, recent developments may bring a change in the attitude towards remote work.
With its plethora of complexities and confusion, the present scenario only makes it more difficult for organizations to decide whether to come back to work or continue working remotely. With organizations navigating new challenges and uncharted territories, adapting to the new ‘normal,’ the future of work is on the horizon. Businesses need to be astute in attracting and retaining the talent required to stay ahead of the curve. In addition to digital tools, combatting the challenges of working remotely, organizations can use a remote work survey and assessment to gain a toehold and explore its applications. With the right people and the right strategy, the productivity of remote teams will increase, opening a world of possibilities with democratized opportunities, while ensuring business continuity.
Mercer | Mettl’s suite of tools is designed to help you build an agile workforce during times of uncertainty and increase remote workers’ productivity. Mercer | Mettl has been at the forefront of assisting organizations in building winning teams through intelligent recruitment technology and revolutionary L&D programs.
With the advent of COVID-19 and the shift to a remote work setting, Mercer | Mettl’s team of subject matter experts have come up with a remote work survey and a list of remote work skills. It can help raise awareness about remote work readiness and develop skills that ultimately help mitigate the challenges of working remotely. Since there is no defined playbook for them, the remote work survey, followed by an assessment, can help organizations address concerns and skills gaps. Here’s how:
A short, 22-question survey covers three major parameters to assess an organization’s key intervention areas – organizational initiatives, managerial effectiveness, and support from coworkers. The survey helps organizations understand the areas that must be addressed to help their employees navigate through these disruptive times. It gives a pulse of employees’ feelings and gauges the effectiveness of remote working practices in your organization. The remote work survey is the first step towards achieving remote work readiness.
Analyze the data from the remote work survey, identify common concerns and needs of the workforce. This remote work survey would provide organizations a well-rounded understanding of employee readiness across various levels to continue in a remote setting.
Based on the findings, a remote work assessment can help organizations deep-dive into an individual’s ability to demonstrate competencies required to work effectively in remote conditions. It gauges remote work readiness in employees and managers. Also, for organizations transitioning back to offices, it can serve as an important tool to understand who can continue working remotely and who should be asked to resume regular duties from the office.
Skills can vary across levels and job-roles. For instance, if the survey indicates ineffective managerial skills, an assessment can be designed to evaluate your organization’s managers. For issues concerning coworkers’ support, personality traits such as collaboration, flexibility, communication, empathy, and so on, can be routed through the assessment. Hence, assessments can be customized to an organization’s competency requirements based on the level and nature of the work and uniqueness of the business objectives. These competencies are borrowed from Mercer | Mettl’s vast personality tool for individual contributors and managers.
Post the assessments, consult our L&D experts to map out developmental initiatives and create individual development plans (IDPs) to increase remote workers’ productivity.
Originally published June 22 2020, Updated December 10 2020
Bhuvi is a content marketer at Mercer | Mettl. She's helped various brands find their voice through insightful thought pieces and engaging content. When not scandalizing people with her stories, you’ll find her challenging gender norms, dancing to her own tune, and crusading through life, laughing.