Five things companies miss when employees work remotely | Panda Anku

hybrid works. Two words most recruiters and HR people say on a daily basis. Perhaps only overshadowed by salary expectations.

Employee expectations for flexible working have skyrocketed since the pandemic, and many companies are now transitioning to a mix of home and office work. A recent study by the CIPD found that three quarters of companies now offer some form of flexible work.

While the benefits are clear, with a broader talent pool to recruit from and increased employee well-being, there are some downsides.

The top five things companies are missing are:

cooperation

There are numerous tools that have been put in place to facilitate remote collaboration, but none of them replicate the ability to collaborate in a room. Instant Messenger (IM) is great for sending gifs and emojis, but relaying ideas to the person sitting next to you doesn’t work entirely through IM.

The person you’re texting might not be at their keyboard, they might be head down in something, they might even be in a meeting, and by the time they get back to you, you’re already on to something else passed.

Video conferencing is great for reducing carbon footprint and wasted travel time, but can be a problem for larger groups. If only one person can speak at a time and the lack of eye contact can result in everyone waiting for someone else to speak, or a few people talking at once.

Teaching and learning by example

The number of times I or anyone else in the office has asked a question about something technical—like typing a hash on a Mac—is a strong argument for being in the office. Fiddling around at home alone is incredibly frustrating, and that frustration is compounded by the fact that someone at the office could probably solve the problem in about 12 seconds.

Although the example above is a rather trivial example, it can be difficult to start a new role without someone quickly asking questions. It can be embarrassing to text a colleague you probably don’t know very well and ask them to teach you something you’re not sure about. While the colleague is happy to help in most cases, not being able to speak quickly and ask questions along the way can slow down the process of onboarding new employees.

conviviality

The work can be strenuous at times. Even if you’re the ice cream taste tester for Ben and Jerry’s, there will be days when you don’t feel like another scoop of Chunky Monkey. Humans are generally social creatures, it’s in our DNA to want to be with others, and chatting with others over weekends and having a quick chat about yesterday’s episode of Love Island can help make the day go faster passes. In addition to acceleration and perception of time, it can even reduce stress.

Psychologist Susan Pinker explained that direct person-to-person contact triggers parts of our nervous system to release a “cocktail” of neurotransmitters designed to regulate our response to stress and anxiety.

In other words, communicating face-to-face with people could help make us more resilient to stressors in the long-term.

She added that as a result of social interaction, “dopamine is [also] produces which gets us a little high and kills pain, it’s like a naturally produced morphine.”

nuance

The tone is difficult to judge from the written word. Scroll through Twitter for five minutes and you’ll see at least one instance where someone completely missed the irony or sarcasm of someone else’s tweet.

In a work environment, this can make things difficult. For example, a short instant message will appear saying, “Can I chat with you for five minutes?”. This “conversation” could go in any number of directions. Is that a verbal warning for me because I was five minutes late today? Or do you just want to hear about my new Cockapoo? Without the clues of body language and tone of voice, it’s hard to judge.

There are a number of studies with different results on the complex topic of non-verbal communication. However, most experts agree that 70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal. So when you communicate via instant message or email, you lose most of what you’re trying to say. While a smiley face emoji can help somewhat, it still doesn’t provide the nuance that you automatically provide with your body language when chatting in person.

Happy Accidents

The word ‘luck’ is believed to have been coined by Horace Walpole after reading a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Chance, in which the heroes of the tale ‘kept to discover, by chance and ingenuity, things that they were not looking for’.

Being in the office together may not always feel like an 18th-century Persian fairy tale, but it increases the likelihood of those “happy accidents.”

Hearing a colleague talk about their vacation in Naples could get you thinking about expanding into the Italian market, or a chance meeting in the elevator could lead to a new client.

Alongside these downsides, there are certainly positives to a flexible approach, and it certainly won’t get anywhere any time soon. Having the ability to work anywhere is valued by employees, and it’s particularly useful for parents and others to fit work into their lives, but it’s undeniable that some parts are lost when working remotely. Ultimately, the hybrid model offers the best of both worlds, offering some flexibility while still allowing for face-to-face meetings.

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