Embracing remote working – A double-edged sword for employ

The Netherlands’ erswork environment has changed dramatically over the years, embracing the remote working culture more widely, as an outcome of the incredible circumstances caused by the Covid pandemic. Moving away from office workstations to kitchen tables or comfortable nooks has drastically affected work habits, mental health and productivity. Originally considered a short-term fix, the hybrid culture has become integral to people’s daily lives. However, more than 70% of Dutch employers would like to restrict flexible working, as they think productivity declines in a work from home environment; in contrast to employees, who feel enthusiastic about this new way of life. This conflict was evident in recent research conducted by LinkedIn among 2900 companies, including a hundred Dutch companies. Employers believe that adopting a remote work culture has the following problems.

Reduced oversight
Employers feel that a lack of physical presence leads to less visibility into their employees’ work habits, daily activities and productivity levels. They also believe with this kind of work setup, it becomes difficult to track their working hours, which creates various communication challenges. When employees work from the office, they stay informed about project issues, address issues in real time and exchange timely feedback. Employers consider that working from the office helps to maintain productivity, communication and accountability.

Negative impact on the company’s culture
Company culture refers to shared goals, aims, values, visions and ways of behaving that represent a particular organization. Physical interactions and in-person meetings help to build a strong team and increase employee morale and engagement. Maintaining a coordinated company culture could be very challenging in a situation of hybrid working. It often leads to disconnection between team members and feelings of isolation.

Possibility of data breach and other security concerns
Shifting to the remote working model often increases the exposure to all sorts of cyber risks. When employees have access to sensitive data and systems from remote locations, it is bound to increase the risk of accidental disclosure of critical information or an external attack. Unsecured home wifi, weak passwords, phishing, unencrypted file sharing and use of personal devices could lead to data breaches or other security risks.

Costs of setting up reliable infrastructure
Providing employees with the necessary infrastructure and equipment to perform their duties effectively and safely brings steep costs for employers who allow people to work from home. The company has to provide laptops, communication tools, software licenses and secured internet connections. Other than these basic expenses, sometimes there is also a need to invest in technology tools and communication platforms to ensure smooth communication and collaboration among remote teams.

Employee onboarding and training
An entirely different approach is deployed when it comes to onboarding and training new employees in a hybrid setting. Employers must focus more on creating online training modules, developing remote onboarding processes, and conducting virtual training lessons so that new workers can learn their roles.

On the contrary, employees have a different perspective on all these aspects. They believe that remote work provides the flexibility to maintain a balance between their work and personal lives. It also saves the time and cost of commuting to and from the office. They also experience that their productivity increases when they work in an environment that is comfortable and familiar to them. Finally, remote work settings also lead to a reduction in carbon emissions and contribute to a more sustainable future, as employees do not have to commute to work.

Agree or not, remote working is here to stay. While remote working can offer myriads of benefits, it also presents several challenges that need to be addressed so that it can benefit everyone. Remote working is a double-edged sword with pros and cons for both employees and employers. There is a need to organize hybrid working properly and reach a consensus about which tasks can be done more efficiently from home or on the work floor.

Written by Parul Sachdeva