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Benefits and Perils of Remote Work

While 98% of employees report loving the ability to work from home, there is increased desire to be online and available as much as possible – known as EPresenteeism. This is an internally generated compensation for the guilt of not being in the office. Interestingly, workers long accustomed to working remotely prior to the pandemic, do not exhibit this tendency to the same degree.

LinkedIn recently conducted a study which shows that 80% of all managers fear that this can lead to worker burnout and eventual disengagement. Yet 86% of workers felt they needed to demonstrate their commitment to their managers. This has manifested as a 6 hour per week increase in time on-the-job. Managers have quickly realized that the dangers of lower productivity do not necessarily stem from lack of supervision.

The greatest reported losses of productivity are where community interactions benefit the workflow. Tools such as Microsoft Teams aim to counter this. These connectivity tools have been adopted very quickly. An interesting result has been that team members are much more frequently contacted and interacted with outside of normal office hours, and on weekends. The EPresenteeism effect doesn’t seem to be limited to letting the boss see that you are working – but also applies to co-workers.

Let’s not ignore the truly astounding good news here – that the vast majority of workers have adapted enthusiastically to remote work, without the feared loss of productivity. When the pandemic started, and remote work became widespread, 82% of all managers feared drastic productivity losses. Those fears were not realized.

It’s time for managers to shift focus to reinforce with their team that work-life boundaries are also important. Bosses who illustrate this concern about burnout have on average 60% lower turnover in their departments. This adaptation allows you to stay ahead of the learning curve on remote work findings.

Lower turnover means fewer replacement costs – and in the current remote work environment – lower training needs. Because remote training is reported as the most difficult aspect of onboarding new personnel. So avoid that issue by encouraging work-life balance, and by assuring your team that you are not micro-managing their remote productivity.

LinkedIn: EPresenteeism, Burnout and Remote Management
Mental Health Foundation: Pandemic one year on
HR Magazine: HR leaders as champions of change

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