Tag Archive for: remote working

Remote working has become increasingly popular in recent years, with the COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerating this trend. More recently, however, companies appear to be swinging back away from remote work (As City of London Rolls Back Flexible Working, It’s Losing Women – Bloomberg and Flexa Careers | Flexible Workplaces Offering Freedom & Choice).

Fans of remote working cite the positive effect on work-life balance that it brings to the workforce, as well as the savings it brings to businesses who can downsize their offices. Opponents point to the impact on communication and teamwork from not having teams co-located and the difficulty it creates in bringing in and nurturing young talent, who are not as exposed to their colleagues at a key point in their training and development.

Both fans and opponents also use the impact on productivity to bolster their cases. Fans claim it does not impact productivity or even improves it as workers use the extra time to get more done, whereas opponents claim that remote working leads to employees slacking off away from the mindful gazes of their colleagues and bosses.

Given the disparity in views on the impact on productivity and the recent trend we have been seeing from some of our clients towards more in-person working, we thought we’d have a look at what research there is out there:

Positive Impact on Productivity

  1. Increased Productivity: According to a survey by ConnectSolution, 77% of remote workers say they’re more productive when working from home, with 30% doing more work in less time and 24% doing more work in the same period[2]. A study by Stanford of 16,000 workers over nine months found that working from home increased productivity by 13%[5].
  2. Better Work-Life Balance: Remote workers have a better work-life balance, which translates into less stress and anxiety, more happiness and productivity, and more time for hobbies that stimulate them[2].
  3. Healthier Lifestyles: Remote workers enjoy a healthier work-life balance and reduced stress, which can lead to healthier lifestyles[6].

Negative Impact on Productivity

  1. Lower Productivity: Fully remote work is associated with 10% to 20% lower productivity than fully in-person work, according to a working paper published by Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy and Research[4]. Some papers have linked remote work with productivity declines of between 8 and 19 percent, while others find drops of 4 percent for individual workers[1].
  2. Communication Challenges: Challenges in communicating remotely and lack of motivation are the main issues preventing fully remote workers from being more productive[4].
  3. Distractions: At home, it’s easy to get distracted, procrastinate, or put in less work than those working in the office[5].

Tips for Increasing Productivity in Remote Working

  1. Track Time: Maximize productivity by tracking time[2].
  2. Remove Distractions: Help remote employees figure out their most productive work times and plan their tasks around these productivity peaks[6].
  3. Use To-Do Lists: To-do lists can help increase productivity among remote employees[6].
  4. Communication: When you and your team work remotely, communication is critical[6].

 

In conclusion, the impact of remote working on productivity is mixed and relies on surveys based on self-reporting rather than observation and independent measurement. While some studies show that remote working can increase productivity, others show that it can lead to lower productivity. However, the research also shows that there are ways to increase productivity in remote working, such as tracking time, removing distractions, using to-do lists, and improving communication.

Sources:

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/10/business/remote-work-effects.html

[2] https://timeular.com/blog/remote-working-affects-productivity/

[3] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/is-remote-work-to-blame-for-lower-productivity.aspx

[4] https://fortune.com/2023/07/06/remote-workers-less-productive-wfh-research/

[5] https://www.apollotechnical.com/working-from-home-productivity-statistics/

[6] https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15259-working-from-home-more-productive.html

Given the option, who would have attempted a core banking system replacement entirely remotely? Definitely not me. I’ve always opted for everyone to be on-site in an effort to ensure issues are escalated quickly and resolved even quicker.

However, as we all know times have changed, we have been thrown into a world of remote working that looks likely to stay in one form or another for the foreseeable future. As a result, Projecting has recently had to manage a completely remote go-live implementation of a core banking system.

UAT & Dress rehearsal

During the final stages of UAT testing , the entire country went into full lockdown which was a bit of a shock.

The project team quickly moved to video conferencing sessions for daily catchups, with very few glitches. An unexpected benefit of this new world was that throughput of testing increased … was this because the project was coming close to signing off UAT and the pressure was on? Or was it fewer day to day business interruptions – phones, emails, or kitchen gossip? Although we will never know for sure it was a welcome side effect.

Once UAT was signed off, the final dress rehearsal and data migrations were all that remained, apart from the go-live process itself.

As the new banking system was hosted externally applying patches and new versions, or running data migrations, were always carried out remotely so that was less of a concern. However, under normal conditions both the system and data migration specialists would have been on-site for both the final dress rehearsal and the go-live.

Given that the implementation was going to be remote, a key part of the dress rehearsal was working out ‘plan B’ processes for absolutely everything, particularly in the event key staff had network issues or contracted Covid-19. Deputies were identified and processes documented to allow those deputies to step in. We would normally do this anyway, but we had to think about it differently this time.

Identified challenges for go-live

The final dress rehearsal (carried out remotely) was successful, but it did highlight several remote working challenges that we had to address prior to the go-live weekend:

Communication – which had mainly taken place over email and/or Instant messenger was not relevant for every situation, so we assessed the types of communication and identified the best medium for each type:

  • Quick updates to the team that required no response worked well over instant messenger
  • Progress updates were provided in a central area on Teams that everyone could see
  • The Issues Log was available on Teams
  • A video conference open session used to facilitate working groups to discuss issues etc.
  • Email was used for final formal signoff

Issue Raising – we had a problem with issues not being raised to the correct team members, which impacted prioritisation and resolution. We added an additional step to route all issues through the head of the relevant business area and they prioritised which issues needed resolved and which could wait. Although this weakness may have been highlighted in an on-site dress rehearsal, it may not have resulted in a change to the process as teams would have been sitting together and discussing the issues. Being remote, it is really important that the process is solid and stands up on its own. Any change to process between dress rehearsal and go-live had to be communicated effectively and the relevant team members trained.

Collaboration – central sharing of Information as opposed to emailing it. For the dress rehearsal, approvals took place over email and there was a lot of email traffic which was difficult to keep track of. For go-live, we moved to a model where all approval forms were stored on a Teams site, updated centrally, and visible to other areas so that everyone was kept informed without the additional email traffic. Only final signoff was done via email.

Data Changes – to capture any late changes to core data which might impact go-live, which we deemed a higher risk than normal with everyone working remotely, we carried out a final, technical data migration very close to the go-live to resolve any issues.

Once the go-live took place it was a long day but hugely successful with clear communication and effective, slick processes that utilised time and resource wisely.

Our top tips…

…for a successful remote implementation are:

  • A solid finish to UAT testing
  • A final dress rehearsal that mirrors a remote go-live
  • Amend processes for go-live after the dress rehearsal based on findings
  • Have deputies/plan Bs
  • Train the team on the go-live processes to ensure they follow them
  • A final technical data migration to highlight data issues
  • Select the right communication channels

If you have any questions on remote implementations or would like to chat through your project options, please do get in touch.