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Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, freelance platform Workana had been preparing and training organisations to adopt internal structures for remote workers for years. Tomas O’Farrell, co-founder of Workana shares why remote working can be the new norm even after the pandemic is finally over. 

1. How will the current situation shape the future of work?
According to a Gartner survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced 88% of companies worldwide to practice working from home almost immediately. This surely caused chaos to many companies such as having to improvise, deal with a lack of equipment, have no relevant policies in place, insufficient broadband and inadequate software or technological tools.

Since COVID-19 has restricted movement and induced social distancing, many global companies have resorted to work from home and this has led many organisations to realise how productive remote workers can be, opening up new ways for them to think about structuring their internal teams. Businesses are also seeing now how it can ensure their business' continuity.

Within a few months, these companies will realise the benefits of remote working – the financial savings for an organisation will give a strong argument to make it a normal working policy. It will however differ according to industry.

Therefore, although remote working is considered a temporary measure during this lockdown period, we think it is going to be the new norm. In other words, the future of work is already here. We just need to make it sustainable.

2. How should management roles ensure smooth enforcement of remote working?
Senior leaders can use project management tools to track sales leads and customer requests, and communications solutions that allow video conferencing and online training sessions. Company management can even use human resource information systems to track attendance and monitor the productivity of remote workers.

From experience, the Workana team leaders set out clear goals and expectations on a weekly basis, and have a measurement system in place. These goals or scope of work are discussed with the remote teams at the Monday meetings. Team leads are also required to give guidance and support to employees when required. Many project management tools are available for this exact exercise of goal-setting. In response to the coronavirus, many of these tools have been made available for longer free-trial periods.

Another most important part of being a successful remote working team is company culture. Fostering the culture may have changed from Friday dinners together to perhaps a company-wide video conferencing group meeting to celebrate the achievements of individual employees.

3. Do you have tips for human resources practitioners to manage challenges with remote working teams?
HR must get heavily involved in the day-to-day welfare of employees working from home. Many employees who are new to this type of working arrangement are undoubtedly facing issues with mindset, time management and home office set up. HR can set up training sessions offering small groups advice on being efficient remote workers.