When Qumu first implemented our “Work from Wherever, Forever” policy, I was aware of the great opportunity for increased employee satisfaction, but also understood that we’d have to be creative about ensuring employees remained fully engaged in the work experience without regular face-to-face interaction. Most remote workers I have engaged with are enjoying the flexibility and time savings that accompany working from home. However, there are still some that struggle with isolation and/or anxiety as a result of limited human engagement, particularly across time zones, as even real-time virtual engagement became a challenge – think Silicon Valley and Hyderabad! Then there was the blurring of the lines between work and home life. For many of us, our dining room table doubles as our office and we have adopted an “always at work” mindset.
As our Work from Wherever, Forever approach got underway and we saw huge success across the organization, we realized that there were opportunities to both expand the policy and ensure greater engagement and work-life balance. As a result, we have introduced Work from Wherever, Whenever, giving Qumu employees even more flexibility to keep a healthy balance between their work and personal lives while recognizing the different work hours and time zones that a global remote workforce brings.
Since the wide adoption of mobile technology, even prior to the pandemic, employees across industries have often found it difficult to completely shut off work at the end of the day. With our PCs (or MACs), tablets and phones within arms-reach, or in some cases attached to our arms, our work and personal lives have become inextricably intertwined. Working from home, particularly since the pandemic, has only exacerbated this issue.
While the ease of access to work has offered flexibility, it has become difficult to separate our work lives from our personal lives, which in many cases has increased anxiety and depression among remote workers. Seventy percent of remote workers are reporting burnout symptoms and 60 percent are taking less time off from work.
This is one of the challenges of remote work. When employees are emotionally disconnected, their work, and the business, can end up suffering — not the intended outcomes of working remotely. In order to prevent this kind of burnout, it’s vital that employers take proactive steps to keep employees engaged, connected with each other, balanced, healthy and feeling good. And if any board, executive or manager out there does not believe they have a responsibility to help ensure the health and wellness of their remote workforce, I say…. think again! According to McKinsey, more than 20 percent of the workforce could work remotely the majority of the time as effectively as if they were working from an office. Add to that, 70.5 percent of remote workers surveyed said they have a positive state of well-being thanks to remote work. To us, embracing remote work was a smart business move.
Enter stage left – Work from Wherever, Whenever – an approach to the hyper-distributed workforce that takes into consideration the need to support, respect and manage employees’ time and location. Thus far, our policy is receiving great feedback from employees and is becoming central to our recruiting efforts and how we now communicate with each other on a daily basis. Potential employees like knowing that they won’t have to move for that new perfect job, and Qumu benefits from being able to focus on having the right person for the job, no matter where they’re based.
Once on the job, employees communicate using state of the art media tools, including email, chat and asynchronous video (or video on demand) to supplement real-time communications, which improves efficiency and more importantly provides employees with more time. This has been borne out at in practice at Qumu, where employees can manage work, time, and personal obligations to improve mental wellness. We want our team members to take ample time to decompress and encourage them to collaborate creatively, not being wed to same time, same location communications modalities.
Stay tuned for part two! Next week, I’ll provide insight on Qumu’s key initiatives to ensuring our remote teams are communicating, collaborating and embracing a healthy work/life balance.
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