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Wherever you look these days, there are so many stories out there about companies choosing to adopt remote working or hybrid working systems.  Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible working was beginning to become a lot more common in certain sectors. However, this move towards changing working styles has been accelerated by millions of workers suddenly finding themselves having to work from home. 

Suddenly, people found that they were able to experience many benefits of working remotely. The daily commute was no more and stylish hoodies and smart casual clothes were the new workwear. 

Even though people aren’t leaving their homes to do their jobs, there is still a huge difference between working from home and remote working. While these two terms are used interchangeably, they represent two very different ways of working. 

Does your company know the difference between the two? 

Working From Home

If your employees are performing the same role, at the same time, with all of the same expectations on them as they would have in an office environment. Then they are working from home. Basically, the only difference for them is that they don’t have to commute to the office every day. It’s not true remote working. 

There are circumstances where this way of working fits in well. For example, if your workforce is primarily office-based with core working hours, then it does make sense for those working the occasional day or two from home to keep to this model. 

Working from home in this respect is often something that happens intermittently, or for only a short amount of time per week. 

Yet some companies don’t realize that this is still the 9-5 rat race that more and more workers are trying to escape. Yeah, you might save some money on commuting, but the business often doesn’t trust employees to do the job and has very strict surveillance in place and expectations. 

Remote Working 

True remote working is a fundamentally different way of doing business and has a totally different culture. It most often involves being based outside of an office all of the time (if they even have one). Employees could be based at home, in a co-working space, or anywhere they feel comfortable working. 

This type of working requires a totally different management style and a different set of skills for those choosing to work this way. 

Rather than requiring employees to be at their laptops between 9-5, remote working is based on output and achievement, not clock watching. If something needs to be done, does it matter if it’s done at 6 am or 10 pm? Trust and autonomy is a very important part of remote working. 

Employee Skills Needed For Remote Working

Those used to working in more traditional office environments can find it difficult to adjust to full remote working, even if it is something they really want to do. Though as with all skills, these can be improved and refined over time. 

Skills needed for remote working include the ability to communicate in writing. Remote teams often communicate via email or a messenger platform. Knowing how to communicate in this way is important. 

Time management is also a prerequisite. There’s no set schedule and no one to look over their shoulder to ensure their work is carried out. Many remote workers start creating their own schedules and routines to work to. This might seem counterintuitive to remote working, but some people do find some structure necessary to focus their energies and not get sidetracked. 

Management Skills Needed For Remote Working

Being a good leader is an extremely complex role that requires a lot of training as well as the innate qualities of the individual. 

During the pandemic, many managers found themselves in the position of having to manage a remote team almost overnight. While it’s always easy to blame things on a bad manager, a lot of people were left to sink or swim when it came to looking after a remote workforce. 

As for all employees, there is a certain skill set needed to manage remotely. Trust is a huge deal. If you’re the type of person that believes people are fundamentally lazy, or won’t do their work unless someone is cracking the whip, then they aren’t going to make a good manager. 

Remote leaders need to be able to trust their team, communicated well and often, and provide context for their teams. It’s easy for employees to lose focus if they don’t know how their role fits in with the overall goal of the company. 

Final thoughts

Knowing the difference between home working and remote working is crucial to companies who are thinking of moving their business models. It can take a real cultural shift, especially if many people have spent their careers in traditional roles, but the benefits it can bring to a company are huge. 

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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