Despite the breakthrough in science in the creation of numerous vaccines to effectively deal with the coronavirus, it still seems, especially in this part of the world a long time away a return to normalcy. The pandemic has muddled our sense of time, but almost a year and a half since the virus outbreak Bangladesh has come out relatively unscathed and is one of the few countries to have a net positive economic growth output.
The Bangladeshi economy never stopped and corporations have adapted quickly by efficiently coordinating and restructuring their workforce via remote working which is still in force today and many people see remote work as preferable to being in the office. So is remote working the new normal?
Pros and Cons of Remote Working
The proponents of online working see this form of employment and work activity as a viable future. For a start, companies are able to cut costs by shifting to a more remote working-based model as they will not be using or have to rely on office workspaces anymore.
Although how much a firm pays for their office space might differ from company to company, as well as what products they are trying to sell (e.g. restaurants can increase profit by having dine-in options, remote working) they have displayed that a physical room is not needed to ensure that the work is well organized and coherent.
In addition, the elimination of the need to have everyone at a particular place, at a particular time means firms can broaden their recruiting pool. They can hire people from across the world, and from various regions meaning the firm will have a diverse workforce.
They will also be exposed to a wide range of ideas, engaging in fruitful discussions which will make the company stand out. Moreover, remote working can bring vital access to people with disabilities to be included in the workplace, which will be easier rather than having to go to an office.
Although remote working has special features which would not work in an office, there are also several glaring disadvantages. The most obvious is the lack of face-to-face social interactions which creates an atmosphere of distrust and over-monitoring.
“Trust is built by spending time together, not necessarily around work-related tasks,”
says Scott Schieman, chair of the department of sociology at the University of Toronto’s St George campus.
“We form and sustain social bonds this way, expressing verbal and nonverbal communication in ways that convey understanding, empathy, and shared concern. There’s no way endless Zoom calls can replace the depth and quality of in-person human interaction.”
Not only is it harder to build strong connections through video and audio calls, email, and instant messages, but misunderstandings are likelier to arise from these mediums due to their limitations. Trust begets trust, and without the vital social interactions needed to form relationships, everyone at the office will feel alienated, making workers less motivated impacting the work rate.
As a result, employers start to doubt their employees more and more, which creates an environment of over-monitoring.
“When leaders start to monitor, employees are less motivated and feel less responsible for their work,” adds Anita Keller, assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
The increased autonomy that comes with working remotely can be a boon to productivity and morale, she explains, but only if supervisors trust their team to perform,
“otherwise there are limited or no benefits for employees and organizations”.
By looking at both the convenience and the flaws of remote-working, many critics are looking for the middle ground, perhaps a system that implements a hybrid work-week, where employees can rotate between working at home and at the office is the best way forward.
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