Phoenix Remote Work Expert Tips For Employers & Employees

16 March 2020

By Rachel Healy

As an early adopter of #smartworking, Phoenix Marketing & Communications Manager Rachel Healy was recently invited to share her tips on remote working with Pat Kenny on Newstalk.
What’s the reaction when you tell people you’ve worked remotely for over a decade?

The first reaction is “working from home” in air quotes, as if you're in your PJs, watching daytime TV. We’re all adults at the end of the day, so you have to do your job. We’re all accountable and that doesn’t change if you’re not in the office, even in exceptional circumstances. If you're able to work from home, nothing should change, technically.

Are there many in your position?

According to the 2019 Future Jobs Ireland report by the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, over 200K Irish people work remotely.

WFH is the most popular mode (69.5%) while nearly a 1/4 work from multiple locations. Co-working spaces are underestimated at 4.9% as they continue to spread across the country.

Upwork forecasts 73% of all teams globally will be remote by 2028, with two-thirds of knowledge workers believing the traditional office will be obsolete by 2030, so employers will have to embrace remote work arrangements in order to survive.

Obviously, the Coronavirus is a huge issue and is forcing companies to consider remote working for the first time - are they prepared?

Many multinationals and even domestic firms are testing their RW policies, many for the first time. A survey last week by Dublin Chamber found that 97% of members are concerned, with 71% reporting they have a plan in place to implement remote/flexible working at short-notice, although some question how sustainable this is in the long-term.

What do the statistics say?

In a candidate-driven market with near full-employment, employers are under pressure to offer smart working - especially now.

  1. Before the Coronavirus hit, a report by Zapier revealed 74% of the workforce would move jobs for remote positions, with 57% citing it as a #1 employment perk

  2. An Owl Labs survey also showed remote workers are likely to stay in their current job for the next five years - 13% more than on-site workers

  3. 86% believe that working remotely reduces stress levels and improves health, with increased productivity thanks to fewer distractions and sick days

What are some of the other pros?

Global Workplace Analytics found remote workers save more money on commuting, clothing, food and childcare.

  1. Cost savings – circa €10K per employee

  2. Larger talent pool vs hiring locally - cost savings regionally

  3. Higher employee productivity, loyalty and retention rates

  4. Sustainability and environmental control

What are the cons?

While smaller firms are twice more likely to hire full-time remote employees, this will likely change after this global emergency tests public and private industry - it will become the “new normal”.

  1. Employers should be aware that 55% of the workforce are more likely to look for another job if no longer allowed to work remotely, which will undoubtedly increase after Covid-19

  2. 61% expect a pay increase

  3. 68% are not concerned it affects career progression, which is the case with more senior roles as opposed to Gen Z, who still need mentors - which is where tech comes in

Employer Cons
  1. Absent corporate culture - issue of absenteeism / presenteeism as KPIs

  2. Reduced communication and accountability

  3. Dependence on tech and associated security issues

Employee Cons
  1. Communication and collaboration

  2. Staying disciplined

  3. Switching off

How does technology play a part in this?

When I worked remotely ten years ago, video-conferencing and real-time communication apps were in their infancy, while software like Zoom, the cloud, hotspots and project management tools make it possible to run entire departments remotely - meaning you don’t lose those “watercooler conversations” and collaboration sessions.

Some forward-thinking companies have developed virtual reality software that allows workers to interact in a VR environment. Some are already cutting employee training costs with VR. Intuitive virtual assisting tools will even sense when a remote worker needs help throughout the day! Immersive online gameplay is also an option for team building and socialisation.

Phoenix Top Employer Tips:
  1. Effective leadership with a focus on trust and autonomy is fundamental to remote working success - manage by principle vs policy

  2. Technology is at the core of effective remote operations - the trick is to find the right tech stack for each purpose - connectivity for each worker

  3. Virtual collaboration - set the correct expectations - report tasks daily/weekly/monthly - G-Suite / Microsoft Teams / Slack / Basecamp / Trello, etc.

  4. Individual ‘time-zones’ need to be taken into consideration as a critical success factor to communicate in real-time and flexibly as schedules allow

  5. Clear employee engagement and culture strategies - team-building activities such as VR

Phoenix Top Employee Tips:
  1. If possible, create a dedicated workspace - ergonomic desk and chair

  2. Plan a routine and start your day with clear priorities, set deadlines

  3. Keep distractions to a minimum - radio, TV, chores, occupy the kids if necessary (there are loads of free online resources to keep a routine as much as possible)

  4. Take regular short breaks to stretch your legs and get your steps in

  5. Arrange regular video calls, WhatsApp groups to stay connected to colleagues

There are plenty of online communities sharing their experiences and tips, with free resources like GrowRemote.ie, GET Mobile and wellbeing apps like Peptalk, etc.

Our monthly podcast, Phoenix Talent Talks in partnership with the Business Post, covers key issues in the Irish employment market such as these, from Winning the War for Talent to Employee Engagement and Wellness, Diversity and Inclusion and Women in Leadership.
Phoenix is built to work remotely, with operations continuing as normal. We are proud to be able to support our clients and candidates without disruption. Contact any of our Consultants to discuss how we can be of assistance.
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