The realities of remote working
The 35-day national lockdown (extended from the original 21 days) is placing a significant economic and emotional strain on employers and employees alike. Some industries have been forced to shut down completely, while others have enabled their staff to work from home. Ian McAlister, General Manager at CRS Technologies, believes remote working is about more than ensuring staff have a reliable Internet connection.
“We have been fortunate that, due to the nature of our business, the transition to a remote working environment has been a relatively easy one. Our systems are all accessible via our networks. The only component that required a bit of tweaking was the set-up of interpersonal communications and associated processes,” he says. “Consequently, we will continue to provide our services offerings remotely during the lockdown period, ensuring our clients receive support and assistance while keeping their businesses operational.”
Two weeks prior to the lockdown, CRS began migrating its staff to this new environment. Initially it focused on those employees who were already equipped to work remotely. Following this, it prepared the payroll division for the transition to a virtual environment. “This paid dividends as CRS did not experience any disruption to operations when the lockdown was instituted,” says McAlister.
“Some of our staff are used to working remotely from time to time. The biggest difference now is that the concept has been extended to all our employees, all the time. To date, we have seen an increase in productivity, which could be attributed to a combination of the novelty factor for some and a reduction of client requests. However, employees admit they get more done without the unnecessary interruptions typically associated with an office environment,” he continues.
While McAlister admits it is still early days to quantify the improvements experienced in productivity across all departments, the current drop in client requests have seen employees able to catch up on tasks that were backlogged.
“At the moment, I feel more comfortable that we can work remotely, and that business will continue unabated. We are fortunate to have staff who have grabbed this as an opportunity to show they can work independently. As more companies realise the advantage of remote working, the way business is managed post the lockdown period will change significantly.
“As far as CRS is concerned, we intend to be more outcomes-based and flexible with desk space and time for our employees. We will continue to empower our people to accept responsibility for their working hours and structure their days to deliver the best value possible,” he concludes.