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Home 5 Blog 5 IBM’s Recent Remote Work Reversal – Is It Time to Rethink Your Remote Work Policy?

IBM’s Recent Remote Work Reversal – Is It Time to Rethink Your Remote Work Policy?

remote work reversal

IBM, a long-time advocate for remote work, recently made a surprising reversal of its remote work policy. This decision echoed the sentiments that Yahoo expressed when they similarly scaled back remote work several years ago. Both companies argued that bringing employees back into the offices would enhance collaboration, productivity, and innovation. Does your company employ the same HR policy and are you rethinking the usefulness of the remote working policy? 

Many companies in Singapore are convinced of the benefits and have adopted the remote working policy in recent years.

  • It provides flexibility and greater work-life balance for the employees
  • A survey published in Harvard Business Review shows that employees are more productive and loyal compared with their on-site peers.
  • Technology made it easy and secure to work from home or anywhere and collaboration is also possible.

Moreover, the Singapore Government provides grants to companies to further promote and encourage remote working. As HR managers or professionals, would you like to share with us your observations and experience of remote work reversal?

remote work

However, there are concerns such as effective management of employee output and performance. This implies that the company must have rigorous performance management process and systems in place. Other possible concerns are the number of hours that employees work remotely. Because of job roles such as customer service staff who must start work at a certain fixed time, and are expected to be on the job all the time. How do you manage and control these time attendance requirements?

While remote work may not be suitable for some employees and some industries, we believe that remote working is here to stay. The challenge is to tailor the program to maximize the benefits and minimize the disadvantages resulting in a good mix of remote and office work.

remote working

These are the key considerations:

  1. Remote working is probably not for every staff or every industry. It will work if the services and output are not negatively impacted when the employee is physically away from the office. Tasks that can be performed with remote access to company systems, collaborate through applications, and interact productively with customers and colleagues would rely heavily on technology and cloud-based software. Eg. Microsoft Office 365, Employee portal, and HRIS (human resource information system) self-service applications. 
  2. Rigorous performance management process and appraisal system. With less face to face interactions between employers and employees, frequent interaction, job reviews, coaching, and documentation of work performed will help. This will ensure that physical absence from the office does not reduce employee engagement and performance. 
  3. Collaboration should be carried out spontaneously using the latest technology, i.e. there should be adequate investment in both technology and processes by the management.
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  4. Implementing time tracking process and use of Timesheet software as a tool to document a number of hours worked to complement the performance appraisal process and system as well as any project management application. 
  5. If time attendance management is required for whatever reason, one can look at smartphone apps to integrate the attendance data into the human resource management system(HRMS) and the project monitoring apps.
  6. Having the right mix of modes of working
    Employees should work remotely only some of the time during the week or the month. We believe that employees should be rostered to come to the physical office during some days of the week or month to foster and enhance engagement with the company and other colleagues. Good rostering and absence(physical) management systems may help in managing these issues. Face-to-face meetings will play an important part in fostering good employee relationships and improving morale as well.

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The above considerations can be tailored to groups of employees who may be given permission to work remotely. Most white-collar workers are already doing remote work without prior arrangement with the company as they frequently do work via email, messaging, collaborating, video/audio conferencing, etc. while they are away from the physical office during or after office hours.  With this observation, company management should consider implementing good management processes, HRIS, and business information systems to ensure that the benefits of remote working can be optimized easily.

If you are interested in finding out more about IQ Dynamics’s HRiQ and Talent Management System, please contact us here.

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