With a modest 1.3% of its employed population working remotely in 2019, Cyprus is recording a significant spike of the workforce being able to resume working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown, April through May 2020. According to the Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy Kyriakos Kokkinos, teleworking is greatly benefiting both employers and employees. Multiple researches report an increase in productivity, varying from 20% and up to 70%, bringing about a change in organizational structure and a whole new level of digital transformation of Cyprus.
With the exception of certain professions which are simply not location-dependent, e.g. health sector, food & beverage supply and distribution, retail, utilities supply, construction, manufacturing, etc, it’s safe to assume that the majority of the white-collar workforce in Cyprus including governmental and semi-governmental institutions, like Statistical Service of Cyprus, have been working remotely during the quarantine.
While some companies have been working remotely before – and will continue after – the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority will proceed to working-at-the-premises, at least for the time being.
Though the businesses worldwide report that teleworking has overall increased company productivity and have a 25% lower employee turnover, working remotely does have a considerable number of challenges, beginning with the loneliness and overcoming the remote disengagement hurdle. There are concerns around the balancing of worker privacy and safety rights with organizational data security, as well as the difficulty to unplug after the end of workday. Further, distractions at home can pose quite a challenge as well, regardless of having – or not – a family. It is also important to mention the significance of managing the well-being and morale, as much as the inclusive and cohesive cultures for distributed teams.
Lastly, even though there is a plethora of chat applications and videoconferencing software, there is often a mention of the difficulties in communication and collaboration between off-site and on-site colleagues. Our research states that the quality of communication between colleagues working remotely in Cyprus has reportedly remained the same for 74% of respondents, with 17% reporting better and 9% worse communication during teleworking. Skype and Zoom, followed closely by the Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp, have been the software and apps most frequently used in Cyprus to communicate between co-workers during the lockdown.
Though there is a significant acknowledgement on the island of the positive impact on the environment, as well as a substantial reduction in cost for the employers brought by the teleworking, whether it’s the lockdown-blues or the lack of stability, middle and high-skill workers in Cyprus continue to choose working at the office and keeping a healthy balance between personal and professional life.
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