Before, having your couch as your office and the length of your hallway as your daily commute was just a dream. However, we live amidst the reality of COVID-19, isolation, and social distancing. Indeed, WFH or work from home is no longer a dream for many. What’s more, remote work arrangements are likely to stay. According to a recent survey conducted by the Harvard Business School, at least 16% of U.S. employees will continue to work remotely. They will continue to do so at least twice a week and long after the health crisis has receded.
It’s unlikely that anyone would still ask, “What does WFH mean?” Unless you’ve been living off-the-grid, you’ve probably heard about it. Even so, we’ve put together this article for those who want to learn more about the setup.
What Is WFH?
The WFH acronym stands for ‘Work from Home’. When someone identifies as a WFH employee, it means that they are working from their house or any place of residence. Before, the term was used by people who had an office at home and worked there at least once a week. Over the years, the WFH meaning has changed, and it has been adopted by self-employed individuals and freelancers who perform their duties in their private residence. For this setup to be successful, the worker must meet the technical requirements laid down by their employer or client. For instance, they should have a reliable internet connection.
What Is the Importance of the WFH Concept Today?
Amidst the current health crisis, working from home has become essential in keeping businesses afloat. While many struggled to cope with the new setup, a lot of employees and companies found several benefits from remote work. People can perform their duties while handling personal work or taking care of their families. Also, for those who face health issues, working from home will be a great option.
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, the work-from-home movement enabled companies to stay relevant and productive. A Gartner survey revealed that 88% of organizations across the globe made WFH mandatory or a preferred option for their employees. Of course, some roles cannot be done remotely, including cleaning and nursing. Even so, many industries are capable of adopting a complete work-from-home model. Certain jobs like graphic design, IT management, marketing, and software development continued with the WFH setup.
Despite the flexibility and many other advantages that come with working from home, it still has unique challenges. For instance, the risks of data breaches and leaks are bigger when employees bring their company-issued devices to their houses. Moreover, companies had to invest in proper equipment and technology. After all, without the right tools, managing WFH employees can be challenging—if not impossible.
When a company adopts a WFH model, it must implement new software that will aid in business operations. With no face-to-face contact, managers struggle to ensure that employees are working during office hours. After all, there are more distractions at home—from the television to an unfinished chore. Thankfully, there are plenty of digital tools that will ensure your employees’ productivity. Among these reliable apps is Traqq, a time tracker that also functions as an invoicing tool.
Traqq works offline and online, making time tracking convenient for your work-from-home employees. Once they start the timer, it will run automatically and discreetly in the background. What’s more, it takes random video recordings and screenshots of the user’s desktop. It also monitors the apps that they use and the websites they visit. Traqq even lists the amount of time that a user spends on certain apps and websites. This way, managers can ensure that their WFH staff are doing productive work.
Is WFH the Same as Remote Work?
Working from home and remotely have similarities and differences. If we’re going to strictly define WFH, we need to stick with individuals who perform their duties in their private residence. Meanwhile, someone who works remotely can complete their tasks anywhere they want. For example, they can work from home for two days, then move to a coworking space for the rest of the week. Basically, a remote employee can work anywhere they want while someone who works from home, well, is limited to a single place. Now, if a person’s workweek is divided between their office and home, that is called telecommuting.
Working from Home
For people with caregiving responsibilities, WFH means they will still be able to participate in the workforce. They can care for their sick, elderly, or young loved ones while performing their duties at work. However, an employee must remember that caretaking and having a career is a difficult balance to maintain. Indeed, WFH is beneficial for people with lots of domestic responsibilities, but it is not a magic fix.
Work-from-home opportunities let employees perform their tasks in their pajamas. On the other hand, working remotely can give a semblance of going to a traditional workplace. Employees can travel from their home to wherever they choose to work. For instance, they can visit a café or a co-working space. Even so, remote work offers more flexibility than a 9-5 job. It allows people to choose their work hours. Moreover, they can take their work to the beach, the mountains, or anywhere they want, as long as they stay connected to the Internet and have some fun along the way.
Getting out of the house is a critical part of remote work. It is true that being at home allows an individual to jump between their caretaking responsibilities and their paid work. However, in cases wherein employees need zero domestic distractions to get work done, they would head to a co-working space. It would also be a great opportunity to network with other remote workers. Moreover, it will give them the face-to-face contact that they would miss when working from home.
How to Ensure Work-from-Home Success
By looking at how companies scrambled to maintain their operations during the pandemic, we can say that some were more prepared than others. However, for a work-from-home setup to be successful, managers must clearly define expectations. Moreover, they should ensure constant communication. Moving to remote operations can be a large undertaking, and it involves a whole new set of responsibilities. It includes auditing the company, training staff, and updating IT infrastructure. Here are some steps that an organization can follow when transitioning to WFH:
Step 1: Create a Plan: Identify Necessary Competencies and Critical Tasks
Instead of focusing on existing roles, you should identify necessary competencies and critical tasks. Think about key responsibilities and tasks that have to move to remote operations. For instance, if you’re working with a marketing analyst, their task would involve gathering and evaluating data, designing market surveys, and assessing marketing channels.
Step 2: Anticipate Future Needs and Problems
When identifying your current competencies, you should also determine where you have gaps. Even when you’re transitioning to a permanent work-from-home setup, you should not settle for mediocrity. So, determine how you can keep on improving by using objective performance metrics, appraisal data, and client feedback. Once you discover the missing competencies, you can start considering the roles that can be sourced within operations. In the process, you will also discover jobs that must be open to candidates seeking remote work. This way, you will attract highly competitive talent.
Step 3: Evaluate the Costs and Benefits
After performing the analysis from Step 2, you will now compare the estimated costs of on-site and remote labor. Don’t forget to consider the reduced real-estate expenses when doing your calculations. When moving to a permanent WFH setup, you will look at real estate in a different way. After all, all the money that goes into maintaining an office space is money not spent on technology, people, and customer relationship. Even so, remember that remote work also has unique expenditures, including specialized technology and occasional team building events and in-person meetings.
Step 4: Restructure Roles as Long-Term WFH Positions
While many jobs can be done from home, not all of them are optimized for a remote setup. When operating virtually, you can expect to have delays in communication. After all, there wouldn’t be spontaneous, face-to-face communication. You can no longer walk by someone’s desk to ask questions or request updates. Without the paralinguistic and non-verbal cues employees get from personally talking to colleagues, they’re missing socioemotional undertones that make collaborating easy.
To mitigate communication issues, map out formal organizational processes and hierarchies. Every employee must know who they report to. Moreover, you should encourage frequent yet short video calls. By having more social contact points, you can improve collaboration between geographically scattered team members.
When moving to a permanent work-from-home setup, a shift in company culture must take place. This model will only succeed when management trusts their employees. Indeed, open communication is critical for managers and employees.