The pandemic has brought innumerable changes to our lives. The global lockdowns not only affected economies but also the world of work. While remote work used to be rare, it has become the recommended setup. Small, midsized, and large companies who used to require their employees to come into the office all found ways to embrace remote ways of doing business.
Instead of holding face-to-face meetings, online meetings and gatherings became the norm. The 9 to 5 crowd were pleasantly surprised to find that appraisals, job interviews, status updates, and catch-ups could all be done virtually without negatively impacting organizations.
With remote work becoming the new normal, employees and employers all over the world are discovering its benefits. Many are left questioning if previous office-based work should be reinstated once the global health crisis ends.
While some are more conservative and less flexible than others on the matter, everyone has an opinion. In this article, we talk about what remote work is, its benefits to employees and employers, how it has evolved, and its future.
Remote work or telecommuting is a working style that gives workers the freedom to work outside of traditional work environments. The concept of remote work is based on the idea that the ability to perform job-related tasks isn’t confined to a specific office or building.
While remote work arrangements were more of an exception and a rarity before the pandemic, the last few years have seen more managers and employers slowly integrate more flexible working conditions for their employees. Such measures include allowing employees to work from home on certain days of the week, implementing 4-day workweeks, and granting flexible working hours.
The global pandemic has forcibly accelerated these changes with the exception of frontline workers who need to continue physically reporting to work to perform their duties.
Remote work allows employees more freedom and more time. Instead of spending time in daily commutes and staying in the office for a fixed number of hours everyday, they can set their own hours, take breaks when necessary, and cut down on costs from commuting and buying meals outside.
Workers who enjoy this flexibility have more time for family, extracurricular activities, and other non-work-related priorities.
Since work isn’t confined to a certain location, it’s easier for them to take vacations, work in places where they feel most productive, and take their job with them wherever they go.
Commuting every day and working long hours in front of a desk without much movement impacts our health. By freeing workers from long commutes and stuffy desk jobs, remote employees can more easily pursue healthier habits.
Whether it’s by going to a gym in between tasks, having more time to prepare healthier home-cooked meals, or just getting up and moving around, such practices are easier to integrate when people don’t need to stay in an office or spend time commuting.
With better work-life balance comes a renewed passion for the job. When employees don’t feel constantly stressed and tired, it’s inevitable that they’ll report to work with greater interest and appreciation.
Since remote work also requires a certain amount of trust between workers and their employers, employees feel more confident and capable of performing their duties.
Lower productivity is one of the primary concerns of employers who are hesitant to shift to a work-from-home arrangement. However, this rationale is contrary to research findings. According to a 2-year study of over 800,000 employees belonging to Fortune 500 companies, most people reported the same or even higher productivity levels when working from home.
Yet another study conducted by Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom found that remote employees are 13.5% more productive than employees who reported for work. They also took less breaks, less time off, and less sick days.
When employees have more control over their working environment, they can create workplace settings that enable them to perform at their best. Whether it’s loud music, no music, working from a bed, a desk, or a coffee shop, in pajamas or while on a treadmill, it’s up to them.
How much have employers saved in overhead costs since the lockdown started? With employees working from home, employers no longer incur costs like leasing a building, paying electric and water bills among other expenses.
Additionally, many remote workers use their own equipment like laptops and other devices for work. It’s a great cost-saving solution.
This is another misconception that traditional management has about remote work. On the contrary, the same Stanford University study we cited earlier also reports that remote workers are 9% more engaged with their jobs and 50% less likely to resign.
Higher engagement rates among remote workers tie in with the other advantages we mentioned in this article. It follows that if employees have more flexibility, passion, and are healthier, they would naturally be more productive and engaged in their jobs.
Of course, remote or otherwise, engagement still needs some direction and initiatives from management, but there are ways to address the issue if you have a remote setup. The point is a remote workforce doesn’t necessarily mean lower engagement. In fact, it may have the opposite effect and can improve it.
For the most part and before the lockdown, remote work and its benefits were largely untapped, particularly when it came to large corporations. Quarantine and safety measures greatly sped up their rollout of flexible work arrangements.
It probably came as a surprise when 85% of business owners noticed greater operational efficiency among their remote workers.
Additionally, 75% of remote employees stated that the ability to work from home has afforded them better work-life balance.
While not all professions can be done remotely, there are still many office-based jobs where remote arrangements bear exploring. However, if the effectiveness of a remote workforce is measured in terms of engagement, productivity, employee well-being, cost-efficiency, and higher retention rates, then remote work is certainly effective.
Technology has been a catalyst for the growth of remote work. The ability to send and share emails, files, pictures, videos, and other materials instantly has created a borderless workplace where employees and their managers need not sit in the same building, city, or even country in order to work together.
As technology has become cheaper and more accessible for everyone, mobile phones, laptops, imaging technology, and the wide variety of applications have allowed more people to participate in a digital-driven world.
Technology’s pervasiveness has often left us constantly connected to one another and has removed the demarcation between work and non-working hours. This is perhaps more common with remote workers since their managers may work in different time zones or may not have clear or fixed ideas about their working hours.
After the COVID-19 health crisis hit, the number of Americans working from home jumped from 17% to 44%. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has left an indelible mark on the traditional work culture and our concept of work.
The popularity of remote work is expected to continue post-pandemic. In fact, more than half of US employees who are currently working from home expressed the desire to continue with their current work from home arrangements even after the health crisis is resolved.
Upwork, a job site that connects employers with remote freelance workers, predicts that the number of US remote workers will grow to 36.2 million by 2025, an 87% increase compared to pre-pandemic levels.
It’s expected that developments in AI, the release of new tools and equipment, and applications that foster collaboration across distances will continue to drive the growth of remote work opportunities. While it’s impossible to predict the extent to which large traditional companies will adopt work from home practices after the pandemic, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay and will only continue to grow.
Understanding Commercial Cleaning: A Comprehensive Overview
While many of us are acquainted with residential and workplace cleaning, commercial cleaning may be a less familiar term. So, what exactly does it entail, and how does it differ from other cleaning services?
On the surface, the difference between domestic and commercial cleaning might seem straightforward. Yet, as businesses adjust to the new normal, it’s crucial to comprehend the myriad of cleaning services available to select the right one tailored to your establishment. Delving into the Different Types of Cleaning Contracts:
- Definition: Essentially, domestic cleaning refers to services aimed at maintaining homes and is generally contracted by the residents.
- Scope: Whether you’re an owner or a tenant, if you hire a service to manage tasks like window cleaning or installing internet, it’s still categorized as domestic cleaning. The usual services here include daily household chores, possibly extending to washing dishes or changing bed linens. Key tasks comprise dusting, vacuuming, and sanitizing kitchens and bathrooms.
- Special Note: For those adapting to the work-from-home culture, your home office still falls under the domain of domestic cleaning. However, suppose you operate a specialized business from your residence. In that case, you might require the expertise of commercial cleaners to maintain your professional environment optimally.
- Definition: The term ‘commercial cleaning’ is an umbrella phrase, covering cleaning services for various business premises, ranging from retail spaces to retirement homes.
- Tools and Specializations: Commercial cleaners are armed with a plethora of advanced equipment, such as floor buffers and industrial-grade cleaning tools. However, it’s noteworthy that commercial cleaning services Chicago can be highly sector-specific. For instance, the cleaning requisites of factories, data centers, and healthcare facilities differ substantially from those of entertainment venues like nightclubs. Several commercial cleaning firms narrow their focus to cater uniquely to these varied demands, channeling investments into specialized equipment and staff training to deliver optimal results.
- Focus Area: As implied by the name, office cleaning specializes in maintaining office environments. At a cursory glance, cleaning an office might seem rudimentary. However, offices are intricate spaces comprising fragile electronics, server rooms, pantries, restrooms, elevators, staircases, diverse surface materials, and a constantly moving populace.
- Complexity: This dynamic environment is a challenge to sanitize without causing disruptions. The continuous footfall impacts the longevity of office amenities. Over time, even durable office carpets can exhibit signs of wear and tear. Leveraging specialized commercial carpet cleaning can rejuvenate them, prolonging their lifespan and enhancing the ambiance and aroma of your workspace.
Evolving Workspaces: Is It Time to Reassess Your Cleaning Schedule?
As the global workforce pivots towards hybrid work models, combining remote and in-office work, businesses’ cleaning requirements are undergoing transformation. Certain enterprises might consider reducing their cleaning frequency due to decreased on-site staff. Conversely, some are intensifying their cleaning cadence as a protective measure against illnesses.
Even with diminished office attendance, the health risks remain—ranging from COVID-19 to other commonplace germs reintroduced as workers return. Therefore, in these evolving times, prioritizing cleanliness is paramount, ensuring a gradual and secure reintroduction to the workplace for everyone.
Workplace Accidents Have Significant Costs for Businesses
Businesses put a lot of effort into building and maintaining a great reputation, but it can only take an unfortunate incident to damage it. In the workplace, nothing comes before employees’ safety and well-being. Or at least this should be the norm in every organisation. Unfortunately, many ventures fail to understand the importance of having clear health and safety policies in place.
Not prioritising this aspect can lead to workplace accidents, which have costly consequences, including compensation claims, lost productivity, damaged property, and tarnished reputation. It’s worth noting that such incidents don’t only cause suffering to the injured worker – they also affect the bottom line of a business. Therefore, it’s crucial to take employees’ health and safety seriously and avoid the significant implications of workplace accidents on your company.
Safety failures have a considerable impact on workers
According to the ILO, around 340 million work-related accidents happen annually. If employees are injured, the human costs are significant. But the costs of replacing the injured employee aren’t to be neglected either. The workload of the individual must be shared among other team members, and although this may be manageable in the short term, it can cause stress in the long run if the worker’s recovery is lengthy. Ongoing absence requires replacement, but recruiting new talent can become difficult when your business’ reputation is damaged due to failures in health and safety practices.
Workplace accidents leave only one impression on employees: they are not valued. On the other hand, hiring new employees means allocating resources (namely time and money) to provide effective training for them. But more often than not, in-store colleagues are the ones to deliver this training, and unfortunately, this is inefficient, as they don’t have a detailed understanding of OSHA violations. In this situation, two scenarios are possible: either the training isn’t fully delivered, or the new recruits fail to comprehend it entirely. This only causes more health and safety issues, adding to the pressure on employees to carry out their duties.
Workplace accidents can affect customers’ experience, too
If an employee is injured, customers can also experience the effects of such an incident, impacting their loyalty to your business. Even if employees try to cover multiple tasks, they can still miss some of the most important ones. In a store, this could mean empty shelves due to employees’ lack of time to restock or waiting too long for a checkout because only a few cashiers are available. Or, the negative experience could simply be due to an interaction with a stressed employee. Customers can easily get frustrated if such things happen, likely determining them to look for a better experience elsewhere.
Investing in health and safety: where to start?
According to https://www.how-to-sue.co.uk/, as an employer, you owe a duty of care to your employees. In other words, you are legally obligated to ensure they always work in safe conditions. This is important if you want to run a lucrative business and ensure both employees and customers have a positive experience at your company. After all, you depend on them to succeed! Employees who feel that their well-being matters are more likely to stay committed to their work. Having a health and safety plan in place is key to creating a positive work culture and boosting employee morale, which in turn, will result in reduced turnover rates and increased productivity, saving your business money in the long term.
Businesses are under great scrutiny, and a workplace accident can instantly ruin their reputation. Investing in health and safety is a way to demonstrate that you prioritise the well-being of employees, thus protecting your reputation. Here are some actionable steps you can take to reduce workplace accidents at your company:
- Carry out a risk assessment. This means evaluating the possible risks and hazards in the workplace that may cause harm to employees and brainstorming solutions to reduce them. Risk assessments are crucial for all businesses, as they can not only protect employees but also save your business money.
- Conduct regular inspections. It’s important to inspect equipment on a regular basis, as this helps ensure everything works properly. For instance, in the construction industry, workers use heavy machinery, so conducting inspections regularly can save lives.
- Provide effective training. As a business, you must legally train your employees on health and safety practices. However, more often than not, ventures treat training as if it were nothing but a box-ticking exercise. Unfortunately, this has significant consequences. It’s crucial to take this aspect seriously and provide employees with effective training. For instance, you can use mobile learning to offer them informative and engaging content on the best safety practices.
- Offer personal protective equipment to employees. Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is necessary to reduce exposure to workplace hazards. This equipment can include gloves, face masks, hard hats, and high-visual clothing, and it’s very effective in decreasing workplace injuries.
- Encourage workers to report accidents. Accident reporting allows you to determine whether the safety measures in your company are working. Moreover, it enables you to investigate how an accident happens, so you can remediate the problem and prevent similar incidents in the future. However, it’s important to ensure the process is accessible and efficient and provide training to workers on how to report accidents.
- Promote open communication. In many instances, businesses don’t include employees when implementing health and safety practices. However, since they are directly impacted, involving them in the process is essential. So, you should encourage open communication at your company and ask for honest feedback on what is and isn’t working. Using surveys can be incredibly effective because you can easily disperse them to workers and tailor them to your needs, making it easy to collect and evaluate the results.
Workplace injuries have consequences for employees and employers alike, so safety is a critical investment every business needs to make to avoid costly consequences. Ventures that use their resources to ensure workplace safety do better than those that don’t, both on a financial and organisational level, so it only makes sense to prioritise this aspect.
5 Common Machine Learning Interview Questions and Answers
Machine learning is a rapidly growing field, and many companies are looking to hire talented individuals with expertise in this area. If you’re preparing for a machine learning interview, it’s essential to be familiar with common questions and how to answer them. To help you prepare, we’ve put together five common machine learning interview questions and their answers.
Question 1: What is overfitting, and how do you prevent it?
Overfitting occurs when a machine learning model becomes too complex and begins to overfit the training data. This results in poor generalization performance, where the model doesn’t perform well on new, unseen data, as it has become too specific to the training data.
Several techniques can be used to prevent overfitting:
- Cross-validation: This involves splitting the data into training and validation sets and using the validation set to evaluate the model’s performance. It helps to identify if the model is overfitting or underfitting.
- Regularization: This technique involves adding a penalty term to the loss function to discourage the model from fitting the training data too closely.
- Early stopping: This involves stopping the model’s training when the performance on the validation set starts to decrease, indicating that the model is beginning to overfit.
Question 2: What is cross-validation, and why is it important?
Cross-validation is a technique used for evaluating the performance of a machine-learning model. It involves splitting the data into training, testing sets multiple times, and evaluating the model’s performance on each split. This technique helps to ensure that the model generalizes well to new, unseen data and is not overfitting.
Cross-validation is essential because it provides a more accurate estimate of the model’s performance than a single train-test split. It also helps to identify potential issues with the model, such as overfitting or underfitting.
Question 3: What is the distinction between supervised and unsupervised learning?
Supervised learning involves training a model on labeled data, where the output variable is known. The goal is to learn a function that maps input variables to the output variable. The model can then be used to predict the output variable for new, unseen data.
On the other hand, unsupervised learning is training a model on unlabeled data with an unknown output variable. The goal is to learn the underlying structure or patterns in the data without any specific target variable in mind.
Question 4: What is gradient descent, and how does it work?
Gradient descent is a popular optimization algorithm used in machine learning to find the optimal values of the parameters of a model. The basic idea behind gradient descent is to iteratively update the parameters in the direction of the negative gradient of the loss function, which represents the rate of change of the loss concerning the parameters.
The following are the steps involved in gradient descent:
- Initialize the parameters with some values.
- Compute the loss function for the current values of the parameters.
- Compute the gradient of the loss function concerning the parameters.
- Update the parameters by taking a small step in the direction of the negative gradient.
- Repeat steps 2-4 until convergence, i.e., the loss function no longer decreases.
Question 5: What evaluation metrics would you use to evaluate a classification model?
Evaluation metrics measure how well a machine-learning model performs. In the case of a classification model, the following evaluation metrics can be used:
- Accuracy: This metric measures the proportion of correctly classified samples.
- Precision: This metric estimates the proportion of true positives among all predicted positives.
- Recall: This metric measures the proportion of true positives among all actual positives.
- F1 score: This metric is a harmonic mean of precision and recall that provides a balanced view of the model’s performance.
- Confusion matrix: This metric provides a detailed view of the model’s performance by showing the true positive, true negative, false positive, and false negative values.
Preparing for a machine learning interview requires a deep understanding of the position. By familiarizing yourself with machine learning interview questions and practicing your answers, you can demonstrate your suitability for the role and increase your chances of landing the job.
However, it’s not just about preparing for the interview itself. Another critical aspect is to develop your knowledge and skills in machine learning to demonstrate your commitment to the profession and make yourself a more attractive candidate to potential employers. One way to do this is by enrolling in machine learning certification courses offered by top institutes in India. These courses can help you acquire new skills and knowledge to enhance your resume and make you stand out in a competitive job market.
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