As I was growing up, there were so many myths I grew up with which literally became a part of me. Lucky enough I was able to filter some out as it didn’t really make sense. Even then I figured it out as I was growing up, so yes laugh all you want, as a child, I believed that if I were to sit on a pillow, I would later develop boils on my body part which the pillow sat on. Or even better, if I were to sing in the kitchen aloud, I would never find my prince charming. By which for this particular one I’m not too sure could be partially true? As I have yet to find my prince charming.
With all that has been said, a myth can be defined as a broadly believed idea that is not necessarily true, and in our current era there are plenty, what more with the current pandemic, has their own myths. A set of myths that has indeed followed the generation of working remotely from home, which ladies and gents, is truly believed to be left behind in 2023 as they might not necessarily be true. So once and for all, let’s have a look at them.
1) Some Jobs Just Cannot Be Done at Home
True enough if one was a surgeon a mechanic or related to sanitation service, it is indeed fields that fall under the categories of essential jobs needed to be in physically for the tasks to be done. However, for huge other lines of services, with the technology that we already have in hand, impossible is pretty much defined as i-am-possible.
Prior to the pandemic, many organizations have already gone hand-in-hand with having their data in platforms such as SAP and Oracle and went paperless. Truth be told, for me personally, way before the pandemic attack, my routine of going into the office would be to go to my desk, switch on my laptop which would then be connected to the monitors. That’s it! Ready for work!
To have a complete set of stationeries would be a miracle because we have all gone paperless hence there was simply no need for us to have any, though we are provided with them. With that been said, with the pandemic in place, although it was not just as simple as just moving from an office desk to a home office, it was definitely possible, and the saying that some jobs just cannot be done at home definitely has to go out the window because that ladies and gents is nearly 95% untrue! (my own statistics definitely, but you get my point, of how inaccurate it is in our current era?)
2) I Cannot Guarantee That My Employees Are Working at Home
Do you know what’s really scary but impressive at the same time? Of how untrue this myth is, and how we definitely need to get it out of our minds. March 2020 was the month that the government of Malaysia first announced for a Restricted Movement Order (RMO) due to the spike number of COVID19 cases within days. Not knowing what to expect, how things would be, and how to move about with so many different aspects in life, we took it up and swallowed everything in as we didn’t have much choice.
I remember when I first started working remotely due to the situation we were all facing, comprised of 15 staffs in my team, some continued performing their tasks as usual from home, however some weren’t. Here comes the scary part. That those who weren’t contributing much were highlighted in our meetings. In other words, it didn’t make much difference whether we were in the office or at home, there are many ways for managers to monitor and evaluate if a staff member is actually doing work or not. For example for us, as our tasks are called as ‘cases’, hence we would have to complete approximately 60-100 cases per day. Hence as a manager, they are able to extract the report which would then state the number of cases each staff member has attended to for the day.
Okay some of you might say, that’s because we have such high-tech system in place. Okay let’s back track a little bit. Did you know, despite having the system in hand, we also have our manual tracking system, just in case there was a bug in the system, or as simple as just because, just in case. Hence, by recording them manually in Microsoft Excel or even a notepad, we would email them at the end of the day to the manager in charge as a report on what we have been occupying ourselves with for the past 7.5 to 8 hours on that day.
But really, let’s be realistic, to have a 100% guarantee that a staff member would be in front of the computer would definitely be impossible, as they would also be playing other roles at the same time, be it as a parent, or even a child. Hence, it’s not wrong to give them some space, just as long as the output is being achieved at the agreed time, by all means, do what you got to do. What really matters is the result, and not much of what happens in between as much. So as an employer and an employee, we can see how untrue this myth definitely can be.
3) I can pay my remote workers less, since they don’t have commuting costs
Among the topics I heard my colleagues talk about when we were able to meet up again after months being separated was how much expenses they incurred just by staying at home, and by staying at home I mean by working remotely from home. How the utilities went up and how the groceries list became longer. Come to think of it, at the end of the day, it all comes up to almost the same expense, or sometimes even more.
True enough we are able to save up on transportation costs, however all the other expenses increased. Hence as an employer, it is very much advisable to also look at it from a point of view of an employee, whereby to be cutting the pay from an employee would be quite stressful and sometimes too much to handle with all that was already happening. After all, don’t you agree with the saying ‘happy employees lead to happy customers’?
4) It’s impossible to build a strong culture outside of an office environment
Have you ever wondered why there are some people that are able to stay within the organization until they retire, and some would be hopping around wandering about from one organization to another just within a few years, some just a couple of months? It is a widely known fact that the main factor for an employee to stick around an organization is because of the culture of the organization.
Despite the stress that they may be facing due to the tasks given, or even dealing with clients, when an employee feels safe despite all the challenges just by having a strong bond hence culture, it leads them to be feeling in a safe, secured and comfortable environment.
True enough, by working remotely, we may not be able to bump into one another in the pantry just for a quick chat to release the stress that we have been facing since morning, or just a casual ‘Morning!’ as one is walking through the walkway. But I personally feel that distance would quite a number of times build the bond stronger. By being physically apart, it would have been tough if we were in the 1920s where internet was nowhere near existence. But in the 21st century, pretty much everything is do-able as long as we put our hearts into it.
By being in a rapidly developing era, there are always options of videocalls scheduled from time to time for both work related and personal updates, as well as catching up from time to time outside the office. Hence this is a statement that I personally believe can no longer be used or even related in our time as it just doesn’t, and definitely has to be thrown out the window.
5) Remote employees are not productive
This, ladies and gents, is one of the most common cited myth I have heard prior to the pandemic. In my organization, we have an option to work from home from time to time by taking turns. Hence it has been an early exposure for it to be working remotely. But truth be told, not all managers like it when their team members aren’t around for them to monitor with their own eyes as they aren’t sure if they are truly doing work or otherwise.
But did you know that a study was found that a good 35-40% of most workers would be more productive when working remotely as compared to when they are working from the office? Surprising but very true indeed, as from my personal experience working from home has made me work even more to a better outcome with lesser distractions.
True enough distractions would still be there, but of a different aspect. And by having an office setup in my own home, it has not only made me be comfortable in my own work space, but also increased productivity in terms of my output. Hence this myth has definitely got to go.
6) It is Difficult to Communicate with and Manage Remote Workers
Back in 2019 with so much happening, with things not yet being familiar, this might have been true. Some might not have a stable internet connection at home just as yet, and some just weren’t used to having seeing one another through the screen most times, and some just weren’t getting the hang of it yet.
But the reason why this is said to be a myth and definitely has to be left behind 2023 is because we had approximately almost the whole of 2020 to get used to it (although we might still be stabilizing things as of this moment), but we are definitely getting the hang of communicating with others in a way that we have never imagined before. It’s like being in a long-distance relationship, just that the distance isn’t that far away, but we pulled through and definitely still standing strong. Not forgetting managers managing the team, this isn’t unfeasible anymore.
There are so many methods and ways to manage remote workers even from different locations. As mentioned in my 2nd point in this article of how “I Cannot Guarantee That My Employees Are Working at Home”, true enough to be guaranteeing 100% that they will be by their screens the whole time would be pretty much impossible (and suffocating truth be told) which is why the way to go moving forward is to always focus on the outcome and not the small details anymore. Hence things would still be the same.
From time to time there can be updating sessions within the manager and the staff member, and like where I work, we would still have Performance Management & Development (PMD) done every 6 months once to ensure we are on track and for the purpose of evaluation from both the manager and staff member.
7) Remote Employees Need to Be Carefully Monitored
Last by definitely not the least, this is a myth I truly believe even from before COVID19 outbreak. To be micromanaging a person is never the way to go. Can you imagine your every move being watched, of how uncomfortable you can get, and sometimes, you would do mistakes just because of that fear and discomfort, when all these while you have been doing it right? What more when working remotely has been implemented.
We each would have different setups, facing different scenarios and challenges. To be carefully monitoring employees who are working remotely isn’t impossible, but is definitely not the way to go. I cannot stress enough on how carefully monitoring employees’ every move while working remotely, or even anywhere else for that matter is not the option.
The best way to go is to monitor from time to time by having regular communication and to work towards the goals as one. What happens in between, employees would then approach their supervisors when needed. Hence to be carefully and closely monitor is a big NO-NO.
With all that has been said, I hope it clarifies that such myths have got to go out the window for us to progress along with the rapidly developing technology.