While more businesses continue to shift to remote work, some well-known CEOs remain steadfast against the movement. Naresh Khatri, an associate professor of health management and informatics in the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri, said the success of shifting to remote work depends on the flexibility of the organization to adjust to individual employees and the technology available to them.
As an expert who has published more than 60 research articles and book chapters about organizational structure and management within health care organizations, Khatri said offering remote work as an option to employees can serve as a powerful recruitment tool and one that can be easily implemented by organizations with the right resources. The key is providing strategic and impactful human resource and information technology departments.
“Regardless of where employees are working, these two departments are vital to a healthy workforce,” said Khatri,who recently co-authored a guest editiorial published in Personnel Review . “Many businesses are embracing this newer option because it opens up the potential for more applicants and workers.”
Additionally, Khatri analyzed several studies and found companies with effective HR and IT departments became even stronger when employees were allowed to work from anywhere because the option offered more flexibility. The end result showed that work completed by employees from home was not statistically different from work produced by employees in the office. In fact, no matter where they were working, employees were able to complete collaborative tasks with a similar level of quality and quantity.
“Past research has shown that the performance of remote and in-person workers were not significantly different, even when employees were working on collaborative tasks that depended upon work from other employees,” he said. “In fact, research has also shown that the people working from home exhibit no decline in their ability to collaborate.”
By supporting HR and IT with funding and labor, businesses are better prepared to face issues such as motivation and technical glitches that employees might encounter while working from home, Khatri said.
“To help prevent burnout and inefficient hours, HR practitioners should tailor their motivational practices to ensure they meet the unique needs of their employees, including employees who need to or would like to work from home,” he said. “That takes time and effort, but prior research shows that this support ultimately leads to mutual gains or benefits for both the employees and the company.”
Research also shows that HR offices that continuously explore new ways to implement innovative practices to inspire employees tend to have more success in creating favorable mindset and attitudes in their employees, which Khatri said could help prevent burnout and uncover best practices for individual employees.
“People are different,” he said. “Some are more efficient when working from home, and some are more efficient being around people in the office. Either way, the workforce is changing. Industries are changing, and if companies are preventing people from working from home, they are missing out on a valuable way to expand their profits, their personnel and company health as a whole.”