With many companies being forced to adopt telecommuting policies due to the pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the home office and how this abrupt disruption will affect the way we work and corporate policies towards more flexible work schemes in the future. Despite uncertainty and challenges, we must strive to be flexible and adapt, learn from our experiences, and use this information to decide what will be right for organizations moving forward.
Though it has been possible for people to work from their homes or outside a traditional office setting since use of the personal computer and internet became widespread in the 1990s, in recent decades with the advent of cloud-based applications and Wi-Fi widely available, a more flexible work culture has started to become increasingly popular. In the United States specifically it has grown 159% from 2005 to 2017 with 4.7 million people working from home.
On the other hand, for some industries and in some countries, like Mexico, remote work has been for the most part unthinkable or simply impossible. Though the trend has been changing in Mexico too, an organizational resistance to change has meant that previous to the pandemic only 19% of companies allowed employees to work from home, and 14% allowed them to work from anywhere without a set schedule. Then there are of course the variety of industries, such as Mexico manufacturing companies and the aerospace industry in Mexico which require employees go to factories, farms and other facilities to perform the work that keeps our world fed, clothed, and moving from point A to point B, in addition to many other essential activities we tend to take for granted. Now more than ever, it is important to acknowledge these efforts and the risks they are exposed to in their daily lives.
Now that remote work is mandatory in many places due to stay at home orders, businesses that have this ability are being forced to test out more flexible work schemes. These unprecedented times will undoubtedly mark the start of a new normal in many ways for both society at large and corporate and organizational culture, where both individuals and organizations are having to reevaluate their goals, vision and priorities and decide how to move forward using creative solutions to navigate unchartered territory.
The success (or failure) of this remote work experiment, and consequently, if companies that were previously resistant to allow it will implement more flexible policies, depends on employees and management gaining a better understanding of its advantages and disadvantages for their specific organization. In addition, there are also employees who simply do not wish to, or are unable to, work from home whether because they don’t have the proper technology, or due to generation gaps or their personality.
In the end, each company will have to decide whether remote working is right for them and how it can implement the lessons learned and leverage the strengths and weaknesses revealed through this process both in its employees, corporate culture, policies, and tools and communication strategies. For some, this might mean that they transition to a fully remote team, while others might allow employees to work more days from home, allowing them to keep costs low and regroup during what are sure to be challenging times where those who can adapt quickly to ever-evolving circumstances will come out on top.
By Isaías Rivera | Mkt & Business Development Manager | American Industries Group®
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