Everybody knows what it’s like to work at a coworking space. Getting hot desks for individuals in a co-working space. Renting an entire managed office space for the team. Now think what if all this can be taken online?
That’s the basic difference between coworking physically and online. The employees don’t have to be actually present at the same place as the other coworkers to work online.
Considering whether or not virtual office spaces can be the future, we need to evaluate both its challenges and opportunities. Let’s gauge both sides of the coin.
- Lack of Coordination
Although this mode of work does seem quite lucrative to adopt, it has its own set of challenges. The main challenge is coordination. The employer needs to actively engage with the team daily to get updates. Virtual stand-ups, scrums, and lunch bag meetings are the options to carry out team collaboration. Employees need to report their work at multiple channels, coordinating with multiple people, ending up getting more frustrated than achieving mental peace.
- Delay in projects
This is a snowball effect of the lack of coordination. Managing a virtual team is a laborious task, especially when it comes to keeping track of work at managerial positions. Constant update requirements for daily tasks may demotivate and put off the employees. This can create friction between colleagues for trivial tasks which could have been done quite smoothly in a traditional office.
- No work-life balance
Working from home may seem like a dream come true, as now people get the liberty to work as per their flexibility, allowing them to heed their personal chores. While the option may give an opportunity to achieve that, but in most of the cases, employees end up messing their routines. Often, people slack while working at home and take frequent breaks during their working hours, leading to stretching the work and ending up working all day long.
- Inability to understand employees’ state of mind
All big and successful organizations have one thing in common which makes them stand out – empathizing with their employees. Understanding employees’ state of mind is crucial to assess their efficiency. Observing their emotional quotient, stress, body language, etc. help in connecting with them and assess their potential. This cannot be achieved by working remotely where employees cannot talk to each other face-to-face.
Working Online in the Difficult Times of Coronavirus
While virtual coworking does have challenges, it can be very helpful in certain situations. The recent coronavirus outbreak is a great example. It has restricted everyone to their homes to practice social distancing. People do not have any other option but to work from home. This can be an opportunity for workers all around to try their hands on ‘work from home’ policy. How it can help:
- More flexibility
Virtual offices give a great deal of flexibility to work from anywhere anytime. Of course, employees need to collaborate with their colleagues for which they have to be working together during the core working hours, but apart from that they can finish their work as per their liberty. This is an option better for night owls who prefer working at night. Also, under normal circumstances, people can step out to work from a cafe or a garden to bring a change and get some fresh air. Having the freedom motivates employees to give higher output and develops likeness to their job.
- Improved Creativity
Removing the logistics of an office helps in freeing up from physical and mental stress. The team can utilize the saved time to work on more important things and be more creative. The team can even collaborate online on some recreational activities for strengthening the bond and take time off from the workload.
- More Inclusive Team
The online mode is particularly useful for organizations having employees from different cities and nations. It allows being more inclusive for different cultures across different parts of the world. A diverse team can be more creative and bring in fresh and new ideas for the company’s growth.
- Cleaner Environment
One of the biggest impacts of virtual coworking on the environment is lesser pollution in the environment. With the shutdown of industrial activities and ban in commute, several reports like the healing ozone layer, air getting cleaner have emerged. This only shows that eliminating the office commute can significantly reduce the carbon footprint from the air.
As per the Carbon Brief report, in the Paris Agreement of 2016, India has pledged that it will reduce its carbon emissions by 33-35% by 2030. Cutting down the electricity consumption of the office spaces can be a significant step in achieving the pledge.
Looking at the challenges, it seems to be more challenging to adopt this working system currently. But virtual coworking is a much more helpful and viable option in case of emergencies and crises like heavy floods during monsoon, transportation strikes, or the current COVID-19 outbreak. Preparing the team to be remote-work ready or shifting altogether to this new working style is never a bad option. It gives corporates an opportunity to grow as a community. So for many such reasons, it might be time to consider and prepare to take the teams remote.