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~ by Heather Strohm, Regional Extension Educator, Community Development – Purdue University
Before the pandemic, a digital media company in Denver with 100 employees, was embarking on an expansion to double its size. On March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID outbreak a pandemic, the company’s plans were halted and its employees began to work from home. This company’s employees, like their peers across the country, were thrown into remote working without any opportunity to “skill up” and be prepared for all that would entail.
“One trend that will outlast the pandemic: remote work. Many large employers, from Amazon to MasterCard, have extended work-from-home policies to the end of the year. A handful plan to do so indefinitely. In the end, more jobs will be done remotely. About 37% of U.S. jobs could be done from home full-time, according to one estimate. And over 80% of employers say they will have more-lenient work-from-home policies after the pandemic, per one survey. Some of these changes will help reshuffle the current geography of jobs, allowing more workers who don’t want or can’t afford to move where the jobs are—mainly pricey urban areas—to essentially work from anywhere.”~ Kiplinger Letter, November 2020
Remote work is not as easy as it might appear. It requires a specific skill set to achieve success. Companies want to ensure effectiveness and efficiency for both the employees and the business. The employees want to meet their obligations and grow professionally while balancing the demands of job and home life.
To help employees with professional development who were thrown into remote working last year, as well as assist those seeking a permanent remote work position (whether that’s at their current place of employment or through freelancing or entrepreneurship), the Purdue Center for Regional Development now offers a Remote Work Certification Program. It takes four weeks (about five hours a week = 20 hours total) to complete the course and costs $250.
Each week, and its corresponding online workshop, focuses on three modules (for a total of 9 in all) that cover topics such as: your work day, communication, workflow, productivity and time management, teams, compliance, critical thinking, virtual careers and remote job development. The last week allows for an exit interview and a final online workshop.
“Research has shown performance benefits (to remote work). A 2015 study by Nicholas Bloom and co-authors found that when employees opted in to WFH (work from home) policies, their productivity increased by 13%. When, nine months later, the same workers were given a choice between remaining at home and returning to the office, those who chose the former saw even further improvements: They were 22% more productive than they had been before the experiment. This suggests that people should probably determine for themselves the situation (home or office) that fits them best.” ~Harvard Business Review, November/December 2020