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Work from home part of the future — Wayne Chen

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to impact businesses across the globe, some stakeholders are indicating that remote working may very well become a semi-permanent fixture in the future of work.

The onset f the coronavirus pandemic has pushed many companies towards a complete or partial work-from-home approach to stem the virus spread
(Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Speaking at this month’s edition of the Caribbean Economic Forum held under the theme ‘The future of work is here’ Wayne Chen, president of Caribbean Employers Confederation said that calls were now being advanced for the formalisation of remote working and working from home.

“There are challenges but there are also opportunities. The pandemic has had casualties, but it has also made a lot of smart people who have jumped in and found opportunities. We just have to keep pushing that process. I think the fundamental thing is for organisations to stop focusing on inputs and [instead] start focusing on output,” he said while speaking in the virtual forum held last week.

“As a country we need to focus on measuring output, activity, and results…as work should no longer be defined as a location.”

– Lois Walters, President of the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica

Chen said that in facilitating the smooth process of this evolving trend, it is critical for mindsets to be reset and long-standing cultural ideologies revised and for societies to now begin in accelerating the changes that have been talked about for a long time.

“Many of our management understands management as being control, they want to be in control and they figure that if they are not seeing workers at desks working, work is not being done, fortunately there are other managers who have seen the opportunity of remote work,” he added.

According to Dr Rochelle Haynes, international human resources (HR) management specialist and Gig HR expert, as the world changes, it also carries new opportunities and requires new opportunities in the labour market.

Work should no longer be defined by location but rather output and productivity, says Lois Walters, President of the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica.

Using the rapid evolution of the Gig economy as an example, she said that these platforms have managed to secure vast growth because of the level of flexibility and freedom that they present to employers. She noted that through these type of work arrangements, which are mostly digital, people get the chance to offer diverse skills and services to their employers without direct interfacing, as everything is done online, for example, Uber.

“Skills for the future include digital skills, coding and creating digital products among other hard skills. The world is changing so rapidly, and while these skills may be important to know now, 2020 has taught us that we don’t know what will happen from day to day,” she reasoned, noting the need for organisations and employees alike to become savvy and agile so as to be able to pivot and take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.

The Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica (HRMAJ) just this week also made calls for the reinstitution of work-from-home orders for people in cases where they are able to do so, following the spike in cases of the novel coronavirus on the island.

“As a country we need to focus on measuring output, activity, and results, rather than relying upon traditional methods of workflow management, as work should no longer be defined as a location,” stated Lois Walters, president of the association in a release.

–Kellaray Miles