The long months of restrictions and global lockdowns imposed by COVID-19 gave rise to what many are calling ‘the great remote working experiment’. Joseph Farrugia, Director of StreetHR, believes there are many lessons to be learnt as a result.

“I have been residing in UK and working normally for our Malta office for the last month,” begins Joseph in an exclusive interview with MaltaCEOs.mt, posing the question: “How could this have been possibly done a year ago, with so many people accustomed to face-to-face settings?”

“We learnt that we can run better, efficient meetings that start and finish on time (literally on the minute), we made leaps in better use of technology, and we also realised that we can keep our roads free from traffic jams if we opt to take this experiment to the next level,” he continues, listing the obvious benefits.

 As Director of StreetHR, Joseph maintains that his experience of the past months has been much the same as most, revealing that “initially I felt lost, and it took me some time to get accustomed to online meetings and other adjustments we had to make. I used to still go to the office (then alone) and work there, simply because that was my norm.”

Joseph Farrugia

In time, however, the Director says that he learnt to let go, to explore new ways of working, to trust more and most importantly, to focus on results and on what really matters as opposed to ‘attendance time’.  “We also learnt,” he adds, “that even in the midst of a pandemic with all the challenges (and loss of business) we have encountered, there are opportunities emerging every day if we choose to see them.”

On a local level, Joseph believes it is now time for businesses to embrace remote working and flexible working models, and while he acknowledges that “there is always the ‘danger’ of many wanting to reverse the clock back to ‘normality’, my view is that we must resist this temptation and keep looking ahead to take this to new levels.”

Describing it as “a unique opportunity for the whole community to make a leap forward”, the StreetHR director makes a case for looking at the big picture, asserting that Government and policy makers have a huge role to play in order to continue inculcating a culture receptive to remote working, flexible working models, results and performance-driven businesses and cross-border (remote) collaboration. “There is a need of a top-down support approach at this juncture,” he maintains.

Delving into the main advantages of such models, Joseph believes that “businesses who adapt to such models are businesses who are adapting with a world that is coming and not with a world that is past.”

“We must stop correlating remote working with a pandemic and instead start associating it with a better way of running a business,” he continues, maintaining that in doing so, “this will attract better talent, support retention and staff engagement and give room for more innovation (and continuous improvement). It will also open the door for the generations that are coming to pick this up from here and evolve it further.”

Indeed, on a national level, the Director posits that it is now time for policy makers to think outside the box and introduce new schemes and incentives for businesses to adopt more flexible and remote working models. “What if we start by promoting a minimum of 3:2 (office:remote) working, for example (naturally where possible)?” he asks, attesting that this measure alone would translate into an average of 16 hours of remote working per employee per week.

“Can we imagine the impact this would have on people’s lives, traffic management, technological evolution and more?” he asks.

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