Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the much-vaunted move to remote working was crawling along like a leisurely but unstoppable iceberg.
But the revolution that filled countless thought leadership blogs for years on end has now happened in the space of a short six months (for those of us fortunate enough to be able to work from home).
Through choice or the lack thereof, some of us will never return to our offices, but implementing the tech to enable home working is the easy part – embedding the legal protections and company cultures which support workers’ physical and mental health is quite another matter.
However, some positive moves are being made to mitigate against the risks.
Here’s how we’re making remote working work in a crisis.
As a recent article in The National Law Review reported, a new Royal Decree law was passed in Spain on 22 September 2020 to regulate remote working.
The new law stipulates that remote working arrangements be formalised through both parties formulating and agreeing a written agreement, while remore working should be voluntary and any refusal to work remotely by the employee shouldn’t result in them being paid off. However, there’s a fear that this might result in an employer having to maintain an office (and its inherent expenses) because a couple of capricious employees refuse to compromise.
Further implications are that an employer shouldn’t promote an office-based employee instead of a remote worker in the same position for the sole reason that they’re based at home, and that they should have the same equipment, training and development opportunities their office-based equivalents have.
Online career development
Anyone who spends sufficient time on LinkedIn or happens to be on the contact list for training providers will no doubt have noticed that there has been an explosion of eLearning materials and courses available since the start of the pandemic, of hugely varying quality and usefulness – with courses on everything from crisis communication to self-care popping up by the dozen.
While some employers will be tempted to crowbar cheap or free courses into their staff development commitments, this would be unwise because now more than ever, workers will expect genuine development opportunities – for instance, some kind of formal industry-accredited qualification akin to an online degree from ARU Distance Learning or a similar recognised university.
Hybrid working models
Some forward-thinking employers implemented a hybrid working model from the very beginning of the pandemic, allowing small numbers of staff to work in their office bases on a rota system, recognising that retaining an office means there’s always a collaborative workspace available and also that not having a dedicated working area at home or dealing with various personal issues can play havoc with mental health for some employees. Flexibility and choice are key, for instance Scottish branding aces Made Brave have introduced a ‘work from anywhere forever’ policy which speaks volumes about a trusting culture where delivering results as creatively as possible is prized over an autocratic leadership style and bureaucratic culture.
Now that remote working is the new norm, it will be fascinating to see which organisations adapt in the most emotionally intelligent and commercially savvy manner.