What is The Future of Remote Working During COVID 19 Pandemic for SME’s

YRSK | Published: 18-01-21
As the economy steadily opens up worldwide post COVID-19; the biggest question that corporates face is – when to restart the office functioning and how! While the leader like Bill Gates of Microsoft says, the culture of work from home will continue even after pandemic to a great extend; Sergio Ermotti of UBS group thinks it would be difficult to sustain work from home. Facebook became the most recent proponent for extending remote work during the pandemic.

Starting in 2021, some experienced employees could apply for permanent remote status, with an estimated up to 50% of the workforce working outside a company office in the next five to 10 years. On the other hand, Rishad Premji of Wipro hopes that employees can return to office soon. 


So what’s the future of ‘Remote Working’


Every company would have their perspective based on their unique business requirements to consider. However, understanding the common benefits and challenges that will give insight into what employers will decide is best for their business.


Benefits of Working From Home:


  • This model helps in cutting down major costs like office rental, commuting expenses and other miscellaneous costs.
  • Increase in productivity cannot be undermined; as employees were able to save more money, endured less commute stress, could work from the comfort of their home, etc.
  • It has established the overall wellbeing of the employees. Not only are they safe from the pandemic but spending time with loved ones without excessive work stress; brings mental wellbeing as well.
  • Companies have confessed how they saved a lot of time by being able to keep meetings short and crisp. Video meetings have brought in more focus on the subject at hand; speeding the process.
  • Additionally, there is a huge reduction in the leaves availed by the employees. Even when the employees moved to a different city or their hometown; they have continued working despite the circumstances. This attendance brings a continuous rise in the performance.
  • Remote work is also an increasingly desirable trait an employer can offer, with 57% of the workforce saying that the option to work remotely is their most preferable employment perk.
  • Acceptance of remote work has been also seen among consulting companies and freelance professionals working with clients, which could have been perceived as something negative by their clients in the past, has now become seen as “normal”.


Challenges of Working From Home:


  • Not everyone has a home environment that is conducive to working from home. They may be living in smaller spaces where they are continuously interrupted, or they have small kids who demand constant attention. In such disturbing scenarios can affect the work delivered by your employee.
  • Some employees work better and more efficiently in a group as they are not self-starters. Getting work done from them isn’t easiest with remote working. In such a case, it becomes important to consider restarting an office or maybe getting a desk at a co-working space that is close to your employee’s home when things start opening up again.
  • Increase in extra costs as many companies had to invest in getting essential devices to their employees like laptops, headphones, internet connection and more; while continuing paying for office rentals and more; these additional expenses have been hard of SMEs.
  • With lines between work and the home being blurred; maintaining a work-life balance has become difficult in these times. This imbalance has affected the performance of many team members. Such signs can be picked up more easily in a face to face interactions but missed through online connections. Hence, it is important to check on everyone’s mental and emotional wellbeing regularly.
  • Growing fatigue is affecting many employees as the working hours have become longer than official timings. Adding to this stress is taking care of additional household responsibilities. Such stretched attention and focus is driving people up the edge of fatigue.


Current Pandemic Situation:


While overall the no. of cases of COVID 19 are still increasing, each country has implemented different measures to gain back the economic stability. In India, the escalation is soon going to outnumber that of the USA on the bright side, our death ratio is much less than the USA. Here is a look at what top companies have decided on their work from home policies:


  • Twitter– It has announced work from home ‘forever’. It had quietly started to dismantle its office in the last two years and is now making this culture a permanent one.
  • Microsoft– As per Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, this culture will continue even after the pandemic.
  • Wipro: Till the end of 2020, 98% of employees will continue working from home; Rishad Premji hopes that the situation changes soon.
  • Infosys: As per Narayana Murthy, mixing work and home is not a good idea in the long run.
  • RIL: It has allowed all its employees to work from home until the next announcement; a clear sign that this culture will continue.


While most IT driven sectors are comfortable continuing the remote working model, not all the sectors have the same privilege. For instance, the manufacturing industry started its functions by implementing the COVID 19 safety measures laid out by the Government. Companies are adapting creative methods to ensure social distancing and maintaining safety of their staff members. Similarly, retailers, wholesalers and the entire supply chain of the physical goods cannot have remote working as an option. 


In spite of the glaring challenges that this working culture brings; ‘work from home’ is here to stay for a foreseeable future for the industries that can afford it..