The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisations across the globe to transform themselves digitally and to activate Work From Home (WFH) approaches in order to survive.
Here at Neuroscience Trials Australia, we have initiated the WFH approach to do our bit to flatten the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a clinical trial CRO, this presents unique challenges, but as an agile and innovative organisation, we are rising to meet the challenge. For us, it is business as usual in the new normality that we find ourselves in.
For some organisations, such as Neuroscience Trials Australia, having their employees work from home is nothing new. With advancements in digital communication tools, effective cooperation and collaboration have been made easier . There are now digital tools, like Microsoft Teams, Skype Business, Zoom and social media platforms, that create an endless number of ways in which organisations can stay in contact with their employees and clients while utilising the WFH approach.
As we all adapt to this ‘new normal,’ we are mindful of the pros and cons that surround the WFH approach that is making other organisations reluctant to transform.
One of the pros of working from home is that it can enhance productivity. Work objectives are still achievable, as work is not being halted completely but rather altered. Research has found that productivity increases for some employees who have the option to work from home as they feel more intrinsically motivated . By establishing trust in the employee and in their work ethic, they harbour a level of responsibility to prove that they are achieving organisational goals.
Research has also shown that working from home can lead to a 13% performance increase and improved work satisfaction . Employees working from home showed more of an effort to work harder, with 4% more calls per minute as their surrounding environment was more convenient and quiet .
There are a few issues with working from home, one of the most common being the employees can find it hard to manage a work-life balance. For some, there becomes a lack of physical and psychological separation between the two domains of home and work-life . Family and social obligation can bleed over easily into work hours , while some employees find it hard to separate the two having unclear finishing times. Working at home can also see more common issues of forgetting to take breaks, distractions, improper workspace and lack of concentration. This imbalance can impact the employee’s wellbeing, which is why it is vital that there is a clear distinction between the two.
Setting SMART goals during the WFH approach is crucial as having employees at home and out of sight can generate anxiety among managers as they cannot oversee the work being done in person. This sense of distrust can be mitigated through setting SMART goals, where employers can measure if work is being completed or not. This can be employed in tandem with the many digital platforms available that allow managers/organisations to keep track of productivity, such as Toggl, Time Doctor, Tickspot and more . We have processes in place that clearly outline short-term goals and long-term objectives. As a team in a high-trust and high-responsibility environment, we all have an understanding of the tasks needed to achieve these and the framework and guidelines to help us all complete these actions.
Constant communication during COVID-19 is also of paramount importance to the wellbeing of employees. Providing employees with clear direction and support will enable them to feel safe and maintain their productivity throughout the pandemic. At Neuroscience Trials Australia, the safety and wellbeing of our incredible staff is our top priority, and we are continually checking in with one another through email, phone calls and video calls.
The transformation to the WFH approach limits the contact between workers in an organisation, therefore decreasing the spread of COVID-19. As an organisation dedicated to improve the lives of patients and to have an impact on the health of people around the world, we believe working from home during this time is our duty and true to our ethos.
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