Among the most palpable effects of the current pandemic is a sizeable population of the global workforce moving away from office spaces and to remote working. It’s been about eighteen months since this shift began. In that period, a lot of stock-taking has happened about the pros and cons of the model among professionals and industry watchers.

Except for a select few, almost the entire business world seems to believe their workforce will eventually return to offices at some point and then it will be ‘business as usual’ in more ways than one. Already, many employees in the US and elsewhere have opted for a hybrid model in which people work for two or three days a week in the office and at home on the other days.

People seem to be divided about the idea of remote working being good or bad for business. While some point out factors like reduced infrastructure cost to justify remote working, critics say it reduces productivity and takes out the joy of teamwork. Some- like Anand Srinivasan, the value investor and author- even paint remote work ethos in a negative shade. In a Youtube video, Srinivasan claims(via a survey by an Asian firm he apparently studied) that people remotely work for 30% more than when they were in the office, but only to be 20% less productive than before.

Critics cite- and anecdotal evidence corroborates this- some key reasons for the drop in productivity during remote working. Let’s see what they are.

More time spent on online meetings

This seems to be on the top of everyone’s list of complaints regarding remote work. The meetings wouldn’t have been so bad if they were fruitful. But as is the case with meetings most of the time, they mostly serve only to take the employees away from doing their work.

Disruption of work

In business parlance, meaningful work is said to be ‘focused work’ or when you are ‘in a flow.’ For this type of work, it’s essential to be able to function without distractions- like phone calls and someone walking up to you for a chat. When you are working from home, the chances of distractions are high compared to an office. This reduces the amount of time one actually spends on meaningful work.

 Hard to collaborate

Technology has made it at least nominally feasible to collaborate while working remotely. But still, many mainstream applications available for such collaborations don’t serve the entire collaborative needs of teams. Even when these tools are comprehensive, they tend to become complex. Using these tools itself then becomes a time-consuming activity.

Managers are unable to ascertain actual productivity

Managers and Team leaders tend to be the most anxious in a remote working environment. It is harder to monitor the efficacy of an employee in a remote setting. This is especially true given ethically thorny scenarios like remote surveillance. The repercussions of this issue are huge. For instance, to over-compensate for a lack of confidence in their subordinates’ productivity, Mangers tend to assign even more work to them- even if the added load is not crucial or time-sensitive to the project at hand.

This in turn results in reduced productivity even if the subordinate work longer.

Is there a solution?

With new variants on the rise and uneven vaccination rates, remote working is expected to continue in many parts of the world for some time yet. Even after the pandemic is over, a hybrid work model is expected to continue to some extent.

In other words, companies would continue to contend with the above problems.

I’m Productive is a project management tool that could help you effectively tackle the issues. For instance, creating a task and assigning team members to it is extremely simple in it. You can also view in real-time the status of a task at any time you wish to. It also makes collaboration easy since you can comment on a task and also attach documents that you or your team members may need.

Perhaps, most importantly for Managers, the tool helps you accurately judge the amount of time someone spends on a task. To ensure the time measured is precise, factors like the time someone is on break while working on a task are excluded. A person could just hit the pause button while taking a break and when they resume the task, the clock would also resume.

Using such accurate measurements, the powerful AI incorporated into the tool could predict the project delivery time without error. This in turn gives you a more predictable revenue cycle.

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