There was once a time when a good day’s work was determined by the number of hours staff clocked in, regardless of the quality or the amount of work that was being outputted.
In an early episode of the TV show Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson hires April as his assistant knowing full well she will do her best to help him avoid having to do any work. Seinfeld too provides a great example of this ‘slacker’ behaviour when George explains that constantly looking annoyed at work makes him appear busy, ultimately tricking his superiors into believing he’s overworking. In reality, George wasn’t doing any work at all.
Remote Work vs. The Office
When the pandemic that we currently find ourselves in first kicked off, employers had concerns that the shift to remote offices would be the perfect storm for employees to slack off. However, this has not turned out to be the case and instead of work being hours based, it has become performance orientated. Employers might not see the amount of hours staff are spending on their computers, they’re seeing how much work they’re outputting. The move to remote offices has meant that employees can work at the hours when they feel more productive and efficient.
Constant communication has become key via messenger and email, which shows that staff are on call and contributing regularly. Virtual meetings have also become a centre point of the remote workplace. Employees can’t just hide in the corner like George, looking annoyed. They’re expected to be active contributors and engage in the discussion.
Shared documents, such as google docs and sheets also provide a breeding ground for performative collaboration. Of course, it depends on what tasks are being undertaken but shared documents allow individuals to comment, make suggestions and show that they’re actively working on tasks. These types of documents also allow users to assign tasks to different individuals, who in turn, can mark as complete or resolved once finished.
The Results of Working Remotely
Essentially, what remote work has done is the opposite of what many employers feared, it’s boosted staff proficiency and work efficiency. The reality is, productivity comes from the proper assigning of tasks and giving staff the autonomy to get their work done. Employee’s want to show how hard they’ve been working, there’s a desire to prove oneself that we all innately have. Working remotely requires staff to put in more of an effort to engage virtually, ensuring that they are seen and actively contributing. This also means, maintaining a high level of enthusiasm and keenness to get work done. In turn, this has changed how employers manage performance. Employers want to see what their staff are up to and a good employer welcomes collaboration.
Recent studies made during the last two of the pandemic found that productivity was higher working from home rather than in an office setting. Further to that, on average those who work from home are 47% more productive and put in an extra day of work a week. Let’s not forget that removing the time and costs of having to commute to the office are sure to boost staff morale.
A New Era
We’re in the midst of a new era now, gone are the days of Ron Swanson and George Costanza. It’s the era of quality over quantity, the days of clocking in hours are behind us and the future is now. The pandemic simply fast-tracked a trend that has ultimately boosted efficiency, saved staff from boredom in lockdown periods and shown the world that work does not need to be done from an office.