Going back just three months, the concept of teleworking was deemed by most local organisations, as a “nice to have” rather than a “must-have” work option. The general approach by senior management was that teleworking was not a priority but, can be used to demonstrate the “worker-friendliness” of the organisation. Pick up the same discussion in most board rooms today, and the mood is noticeably different. Teleworking has indeed become a priority agenda item. As organisations plan to get back to a new normal post COVID-19, the role of teleworking is now a given. The raging debate is on the extent of teleworking required.
Understandably not all jobs can be carried out remotely at home. The outbreak of COVID-19 and forced confinement to home of the populations all across the globe. This has forced so many office workers to resort to teleworking rather unexpectedly. In many cases, avoiding the commute to and from the office has been sufficient motive to encourage them to request continued working from home in the coming weeks. Is this likely to extend to months and become the norm?
Recent articles published by Cushman & Wakefield, WeWork show that internationally, the expectations for the re-design and development of office-work-spaces to cope with the post-COVID-19 realities are considerable. Internationally, the expectations are for the office staffing and operations to be severely impacted until a vaccine is available. Offices need to be re-organised to cater for continued social distancing and sterilisation of facilities whilst at the same time cater for a greater dependence on staff working remotely and visiting the offices less frequently but for more collaborative activities.
Until recently, despite the teleworking infrastructure being locally available, most organisations where hesitant in committing to this approach to work. This can be due to the sticky work cultures apparent on organisations, as well as a lack of interest and incentive for employers to invest in the management and technology needed to operate in this manner.
There are of course, advantages and disadvantages to teleworking. On the one hand, employees tend to prefer working from home as it reduces emissions and overall office costs, and it helps people (especially those parents who have young children at home) balance work and family roles. It may even in some respect, make us more productive. The downside however is that managing a teleworking staff can be difficult, as this can have negative impacts on well-being and career development.
Locally, teleworking has its advocates. The Malta Chamber of Commerce has proposed that teleworking be made permanent, with three different categories of workers, those being;
- eWorkers – Working exclusively from home
- Telecommuters – Sometimes work from office
- Mobile workers – Work on the move
A 130 strong think-tank from The Malta Chamber of Commerce presented a document, detailing 30 different proposals, envisaging how the future would look like in a new socio-economic scenario amid the global pandemic. The Chamber’s president argued that teleworking is indeed here to stay, and will become the new norm. He argued that organisations should look at technology and think outside the box to develop new innovative solutions to adapt to the scenario they find themselves in.
With a vaccine still not at hand, and policy makers slowly trying make sense of how to best live with a virus we have no cure for, teleworking looks as though it is here for the foreseeable future. Organisations looking to survive and strive within this new environment must look towards technological means to continue their operations, or face being another victim of the Corona Virus.
eBusiness Systems provides a powerful platform, eB-ISP which facilitates the co-ordination of on-site and off-site working practices. Contact eBusiness Systems now for an in-depth view of our business management platform, eB-ISP, with 17 different web-based modules for support in the effective management and streamlining of organisational processes required to facilitate remote working.