Whilst working remotely, do you still feel connected to your co-workers?
There's no denying that the outbreak of COVID-19 has uprooted our lives, and that's been shown in changes in the way we work. In 2019, only 5% of the UK's 32.6 million-person workforce considered their home their main place of work, according to the Office for National Statistics. In the isolation effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, that's changed dramatically; now, 60% of the workforce ‒ approximately 20 million people ‒ are working from home.
With this major change, it's expected ‒ inevitable, in fact ‒ that the way we interact with our co-workers will change as well. For now, gone are the conference rooms, chats in the office kitchen, and the ability to stop by our colleague's desk with a question. Instead, we are reliant on instant messaging platforms and video conferencing tools to both work together and stay connected.
Remote workers still feel connected
TopCV wanted to know more about how the isolation of lockdown has impacted today's workers. A new survey revealed that, surprisingly, only 13% of workers reported feeling "disconnected" from colleagues. Instead, 64% of respondents reported feeling "connected" or "very connected" to their co-workers, despite long-term remote work.
These results were consistent across industries, with similarly high levels of workplace satisfaction being reported by the following fields:
Sales and business development (69%)
Project and programme management (69%)
Accounting and finance (68%)
Engineering and construction (65%)
Tips for remaining connected with colleagues during lockdown
It's clear that workers are adjusting impressively to their new working situation. Amanda Augustine, careers expert for TopCV, commented, "Whilst many organisations have offered telecommuting to portions of their staff in the past, this new workplace norm ‒ the fully virtual workforce ‒ has incentivised employers to get creative in helping their teams to feel connected during self-isolation. Our data shows that these efforts are paying off."
Augustine also offered her own tips to help workers keep up the effort to remain connected. First, she advises that employees frequently check in with one another. This can be as simple as a "How are you doing?" at the beginning of the workday or even a few minutes at the start of a meeting to ask how everyone is getting on.
Augustine also recommends sharing moments from your at-home life and encouraging others to do the same. A funny story about your child's hijinks or a couple of pet photos will help the team to feel closer and lighten spirits.
Finally, Augustine suggests making room for some fun. Dedicating some time even once each week for an activity, such as a virtual happy hour or online game, can be both a morale boost and a way to bring everyone together.
Check out this article for more tips on how to stay connected with your colleagues whilst self-isolating.
What this means for the workforce at large
These positive results of long-term remote work suggest that the structure may become more popular after the outbreak is under control; perhaps we will see an uptick in home workers from 2019's 5%.
Jeff Berger, founder of TopCV's parent company, Talent Inc., offered: "The forced switch to telecommuting has accelerated the technology-fueled trend towards a more flexible workplace than had been steadily growing. These findings reinforce that remote working is a viable long-term option for companies."
He adds that this flexibility may be an increased priority for workers as well, sharing that "Employers who deny their staff workplace flexibility may find them choosing to work elsewhere."
If the freedom to work from home has become a factor in your career, there are ways to strategise your job search to best prove your ability to work remotely. For instance, certain skills should be highlighted on your CV, such as tech-savviness, communication, and time management ‒ these show that you're capable of working autonomously whilst being a strong team member.
Click here for more tips on writing a CV when you want a remote job.
Check out this article for a complete guide to conducting a search when you want to land work from home jobs; you'll find ways to ensure that this unique working structure is right for you, tips that will help you to improve your overall candidacy, and resources to guide you to the remote roles you're looking for.
More remote work tips
If working from home really is on the rise, it's important that you develop the necessary skills. No matter how focused you may be at the office, remote work presents it's own set of challenges that can negatively impact both your productivity and your health.
Some of the best productivity tips include creating a designated workspace and keeping to an established routine. And whilst remaining productive is important, it's equally as important to set boundaries while working remotely to ensure that the line between your work life and home life doesn't get blurred.
During lockdown in particular, parents have found themselves having to juggle their parenting and work roles like never before ‒ perhaps your 9-year-old is requesting lunch right before your important presentation. Augustine (a mum herself) lays out some of her survival tips for parents that have to work from home in this article. Some of these include being openly communicative with your employer and, if possible, re-evaluating your meeting schedule to accommodate the times you'll need to jump back into parent-mode.
And finally, you're only as good a remote worker as the tools you use, so be sure to invest in reliable ones. From communication applications like Slack to workflow programs like Asana, this list compiles some of the best telecommuting tools out there.
The importance of staying connected
At a time when the future ‒ and even the present ‒ is uncertain, it's more important than ever to focus on your relationships - and that includes your work relationships. Remaining connected with your colleagues is essential to productivity and will help your mental well-being as well.
Thus far, workers have adapted well to the new remote work environment. Now, it's important to keep up the effort.
You'll need to highlight your current remote work in a way that sells you when you prepare your CV. Get a free CV review to find out if you've done it successfully.