Remote working and hybrid working has increased on a massive scale through the pandemic, and has forced employers to think more carefully about how they manage and support it. However, it is not a new phenomenon.
Employers can learn from people who have been remote working, or doing some form of hybrid working for years. Often these workers have managed work this way without any support or structure from their employers – they have been simply left to make it work and have often bent over backwards to make a success of it for fear of their flexible working arrangement being taken away.
Many of these people are working mums for whom a remote or hybrid set-up may be the difference between being able to do a particular job at a particular level, and having to get the nearest local job available – the long-term impact of which is people often working below their ability. This affects confidence, and contributes to a pathway towards a very unequal older age. The gender pension gap currently stands at 40%.
These seasoned remote and hybrid workers are very rarely consulted about their experiences despite they fact that they could offer a lot of potentially useful information and advice about how best to implement different working practices. A recent survey by workingmums.co.uk looked at this issue.
The survey showed that employers are missing a trick by not asking those who have done remote working pre-Covid for advice on how to do it better: 68% of respondents had not been asked about their experience of working from home to help others who switched only during Covid lockdowns.
Survey participants were asked what helped them when it came to isolation at home. Keeping in touch, planning social interactions outside work and keeping to a routine were popular choices. To keep in touch one respondent had started a virtual lunch chat. Others had created Teams chats and other forums for communication.
Asked what skills they think are needed to work remotely, 85% think self motivation is a vital skill; 68% said independent thinking; and 58% said resilience. 74% said they had honed these skills through remote working and 22% had developed them due to homeworking.
Communication skills was by far the most popular skill they felt managers needed to manage remote workers.
31% felt they missed out on crucial information. But over half of those who said they didn’t [55%] said this was down to their own efforts to find out what was going on, with just 32% saying their employer made an effort to ensure they didn’t miss out