Working from Home During Coronavirus Crisis

Debunking Some Myths About Remote Working in times of Coronavirus

Sherin Sebastian
Sherin Sebastian/April 3, 2020

The novel coronavirus outbreak has been rapidly accelerating globally! The deadly virus, which firstly originated in China, has infected over 3.5 lakh people and killed more than 16,000. With Cities on lockdown, travel restrictions in place, import, export, global trade, commerce, tourism, investment and supply chains in disarray…the global economy itself is taking a hit.

The World Health Organisation is repeatedly pointing out the importance of ‘social distancing’ and expert after expert has appealed to people to strictly follow this in their lives. Since there is no specific vaccine for COVID-19, the only solution lies in our ability to act together in a responsible and caring way. To be able to ‘work from home’ is one of the best ways that not only secure ourselves but safeguards our colleagues and family. Many tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube and Twitter already implemented it a few weeks back.

Yet, believe it or not,  there are many, especially small scale, employers who have second thoughts about allowing their staff to work from home. Well, this doesn’t come as a shocker given the number of misconceptions floating around about working remotely. Be that as it may, I’m here to dispel some of the common myths about working from remote locations.

Remote workers are not productive

This is the most commonly cited myth by CEOs and managers who distrust the remote work system.

When remote, you are no longer on a floor filled with cubicles sitting next to your boss or colleagues. Mid-day naps, smartphone games, Netflix series, are likewise distractions that can be found in during the day, so it’s no surprise that managers worry about the productivity of their employees out of the office.

In reality, this theory is no longer valid as most employees find that they’re more productive when they’re in control of their days. With so many unnecessary meetings to attend, loud phone calls, noisy coffee breaks, spending too much in break hours, it can often feel like a real challenge to stay productive in the office.

There are numerous employee monitoring tools available to observe what exactly are your employees doing during work hours. Tools like Hubstaff give you a deeper understanding of how long specific tasks take, whether your team spends too much time on certain projects along with screenshots.

Quality of communication goes down

It’s an obvious objection as nothing can be as easy as yelling over a cubicle or dropping off a sticky note. But the rapid growth of the remote working team and 24/7 workforce reveals the opposite. The truth is the business communication is more easy and direct with remote team members.

In my experience, remote meetings and communications were more focused and more productive than meetings held in the office. Most notable is that we can save a lot of time avoiding useless conversations that you might feel great at the moment but lead to nothing.

Switching from a real-time meeting room communication to an online tool ensures fast and easy coordination of the entire team. Workspace communication tools like Slack can help your team to work together seamlessly so you can collaborate with people online as efficiently as you do face to face. Skype also works as a perfect communication tool for chats and conference calls.

Working from home feels lonely

A salesperson with a headset in his ear in a closed room all alone or a software developer whose only outside contact is the late-night Pizza delivery person, no wonder people think remote workers might feel lonely, depressed or frustrated. It is feared that loneliness can affect performance, productivity and most importantly happiness. That being said, the reality falls far away from this perception.

Working remotely doesn’t mean being seated in a closed room the whole day.  Coffee shops, libraries and coworking spaces are few among other options to choose from. You can have regular meetings by video chats or conference calls which in turn facilitates a strong bond with team members.

You can cope with loneliness in some interesting ways that you wouldn’t be able to do if you worked in an office. Schedule meet-ups/ dine out with friends or family where you can spend some valuable time together.

Remote working increases costs

Some might think that remote working actually increases the overall company expenses. In reality, this is simply not true.

First of all, it saves the rent by reducing office space – more employees working remotely, the less physical space required. The same is true for furniture maintenance, internet connection and in-office amenities such as telephone, food and coffee. Not to mention the expenses on travel and business trips.

This allows companies to limit themselves to essentials, making business more profitable and productive.

It’s impossible to be a Remote manager

“Without going to a corporate office each morning, it’s hard to manage your team”. But remote managers have moved the needle the other way!

They reach out to employees conscientiously more than in-office managers who see their team members every day. Since most interactions are through chats, skype or conference calls, remote managers tend to be more conscious of how they express their authority. In fact, they use more tools like video chats, email etc..more effectively than traditional managers.

Be it a daily stand-up meeting, live chat, weekly status calls, monthly performance auditing, choose the one that works best for your team and keeps you connected. Also, consider using a project management software and time monitoring tool to keep track of work. You can even visit your team whenever (once a month or quarterly) possible to have real face time with them.

A lot more misconceptions about remote working exist out there, but these are the ones we encounter the most. So it’s essential to keep yourself updated and be knowledgeable with the latest news so as to avoid falling into these traps. The popularity of remote working rises so does your flexibility. Not considered remote working before? It’s the time to give it a try.

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