The Big Problem With Remote Working and Corporate Ethics

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The issue of corporate ethics is more urgent than ever.

As well as employees leaving their roles in record numbers, the Great Resignation has also seen the public shaming of companies that mistreat their staff.

The intense spotlight of social media has given more employees the confidence to challenge unethical practices at work or take their talent elsewhere.

The issue of corporate ethics is particularly relevant for businesses still navigating the new world of remote working – many of whom are struggling to support employee wellbeing from afar.

So what are the root causes of these problems? And how can businesses overcome them?

Read on to find out more, as we explore the big problem with remote working and corporate ethics.

Corporate Ethics Defined

Before we get started, let’s define exactly what we mean by corporate ethics.

Corporate ethics refers to a set of beliefs and values that govern how a business operates – a code of conduct for both an organisation and its employees.

The operations of any business are complex and multi-faceted. Corporate ethics are there to keep all the parts of an organisation moving as one – working in line with the same values, and towards the same goals.

The Familiar Feeling of Abandonment

With remote working now the norm, businesses remain under pressure to update their working practices to better suit modern life – because if they can’t, they risk losing their best and brightest.

During the pandemic, when millions of employees had to adapt to remote working overnight, employee wellbeing took a serious hit.

Many felt completely abandoned, as those little touches of management support that would normally be delivered when walking past a desk, or chatting by the water cooler, or nipping into a meeting room all disappeared.

But this feeling of abandonment isn’t new – Harvard Business Review spoke to home workers back in 2017 and reported that…

“Remote employees are more likely to report feeling that colleagues mistreat them and leave them out. Specifically, they worry that co-workers say bad things behind their backs, make changes to projects without telling them, lobby against them, and don’t fight for their priorities.”

Hoping this is just anecdotal evidence? If only that were the case…

The Issue of Trust

Further research on remote working has shown that, without the right measures in place, it can erode trust between employees and their managers.

Research conducted by social and behavioural scientists during the Coronavirus outbreak revealed that:-

  • 34% of remote workers had experienced a supervisor expressing a lack of confidence in their skills
  • While 41% of managers and supervisors expressed distrust about the ability of their employees to stay motivated while working remotely.

Operating on a basis of distrust is not good professional ethics by anybody’s standards. So how can we make the remote working revolution a change for the better?

The key is to tackle the root cause of distrust. Many businesses fail to do this, because the root cause isn’t what they’ve been led to believe it is.

It’s usually not down to management skills, or HR practices, but technology.

Why Communications Technology Is the Key

Reason 1: Connectivity

If your connectivity is poor, then colleagues can’t communicate effectively with one another.

This can limit employees’ ability to contribute to important projects, to engage with company culture, and to be responsive during times of urgency.

This all makes for a very poor employee experience. Staff experience higher levels of stress, and they feel abandoned, unseen, and under-appreciated.

Reason 2: Availability Demands

For remote working to function at its best, businesses must focus on making communication clearer, more relevant, and more precise.

Unfortunately, “digital distraction” has become the standard, rather than the exception to the rule.

Platforms like Teams and Slack are designed to make things simpler but often lead to work doubling up instead. Especially when added to the other existing mix of communications channels such as email, WhatsApp, company phone lines etc.

Reason 3: “Busy Work”

In the office, employees can block out their time and focus on their work knowing that, if a colleague urgently needs their help, they can just tap them on the shoulder.

But with remote workers, this is simply not the case. As a result, they often feel more pressure to “prove” they’re working when not in the office.

This can lead to remote teams spending more time “looking busy” – hopping on last-minute Teams calls, checking emails, and responding to instant messages – and less time on “deep work”, which can greatly affect productivity and morale.

The Comms Capabilities to Invest In

Ethical business practices are driven by strong and effective communication. That shouldn’t just dissolve when an employee is in a different room to their line manager.

For remote working to function properly, you need business communications systems that make communication easier for employees, not more difficult.

Capabilities that aid communication will prevent the erosion of trust, and help businesses to uphold their corporate ethics – no matter where your team works from.

Geo Redundancy

Geo-redundant systems allow all employees, no matter where they’re based, to connect and communicate via the same strong, resilient, enterprise-level network.

No downtime, no technical faults, no erosion of trust, and no limits to contractability.

Unified Communications

Unified Communications systems consolidate all your channels of correspondence. So everything from phone, to email, to instant messaging can be sent and received from one single point of contact.

This makes remote teams more efficient and productive, and ensures less vital information gets lost or tangled up in fragmented communications.

User-Defined Call Forwarding

The best cloud communications technology grants user-defined call monitoring. This is a function that allows you to choose specific numbers which can contact you for a specific block of time, while all other calls go to voicemail, or another colleague.

This is perfect for employees that need to be productive and focused, without cutting themselves off from specific team members in the event of an emergency.

Cloud CRM Integration

Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) platforms give remote employees all the data they need to handle their daily duties faster and more effectively – whether they’re in HR, sales or contact centre.

With the right integration, these CRM capabilities can be connected to the cloud, enabling employees access to these capabilities from anywhere in the world.

This is a powerful integration that brings countless benefits to remote teams.

Remote Working and Corporate Ethics: Key Takeaways

In the current climate, the ethics and practices of businesses are under greater scrutiny than ever before.

There is a strong correlation between remote working and low employee wellbeing, which arises from a feeling of abandonment.

Research also suggests remote working in its current form is eroding trust between employees and managers.

The root cause of a lot of these issues lies with communications technology.

By investing in the right capabilities, such as geo-redundant systems, unified communications, user-defined call forwarding, and Cloud CRM integrations, businesses can elevate the standards of internal communication, and therefore the level of connection and care they can offer to their employees.

Author: Guest Author

Published On: 14th Feb 2023
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