One of the positives from our dire Covid situation is the focus on WFH (work from home); that has benefits including less productive time loss on office commuting, less pressure on the transport system, less pollution. Organisational experts also point to improvement in employees' motivation and productivity.
However, certain conditions must be met for a successful "WFH economy". Our government needs to properly plan and implement infrastructure to enhance connectivity.At present, our internet connectivity is about 94%, mostly in urban areas. Note that we may need to constantly improve our technology as WFH is dependent on reliable and fast connectivity.
Companies must also have a structured approach to ensure the right technology tools to maximise productivity and to ensure efficient training of staff, and also ensure sound communication and feedback between employees and head office.
Importantly, organisations need to be aware that the WFH model can be "frustrated" by some managers who still prefer to have staff back at work.These managers are said to suffer from three key shortcomings:
Control. Some managers are control freaks and do not like losing the ability to micromanage their staff. Such managers still have the traditional office mindset and generally tend to be sceptical about WFM benefits of flexible hours and work arrangement and the idea of work-life balance.
Mistrust. These same managers often do not trust their staff to be sufficiently motivated, productive and diligent in the online remote work model. If anything, technology has enhanced the ability to track performance and output in real time.
Irrelevance. Arguably, the WFH model in Covid times has sometimes exposed the irrelevance and costs of having many layers of management. Lean management means less managers being ineffective and inefficient, with redundant meetings to make themselves look indispensable.
In short, successfully managing a sound WFH culture brings positives, including a better work-life balance, is cost effective and efficient. And, importantly in the process, we get to flatten the dire Covid-19 curve. Even in the post-Covid environment, with technology advancements, WFH is likely to be the "new normal" of how many people will work in many businesses.
Sze Loong Steve Ngeow
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