WE ARE ALL TRYING TO NAVIGATE THE EVER-CHANGING NATURE OF THIS PANDEMIC AND FIND WAYS BACK TO SOME KIND OF NORMAL. POLITICAL AND WORLD LEADERS ARE SCRAMBLING TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF THIS VIRUS; COMPANIES, CITIES AND EVEN ENTIRE NATIONS ARE ON LOCKDOWN. INCLUDING THE WORKPLACES THAT DRIVE THOSE ECONOMIES AND, TO REOPEN, MANY OF THESE ORGANISATIONS WILL HAVE TO ADJUST TO REMOTE WORK.
For those of us already working from home, we know that there are positives and negatives to managing yourself and your own workspace. The digitising of an office and shifting of work and communications online can be hugely beneficial, especially in a world where ‘social distancing’ has become common terminology. Remote workers are motivated by choosing where they work, digitising, the comfort of home and saving money, petrol and the environment.
For years, technological and digital innovations have meant that working from your home is no longer a luxury but, a necessity for organisations and individuals who want to get back to work and their pay check during this pandemic.
Remote work during a pandemic
The technology that has made remote work more accessible, even preferable, has inadvertently prepared us for the challenging shift in business operations and how workers do their jobs. This global pandemic is exposing how many modern jobs can be done via the internet. Having to isolate ourselves from others means that remote work is on the rise, possibly, expediting changes to what “going” to work has meant over previous decades.
Four-fifths of all LinkedIn users want to work from home at least one day a week. Imagine the potential demand for remote work when those men and women realise their jobs can be done from their homes. There is a discernible shift away from presenteeism and towards an emerging culture where the quality of your work is more important than where it was completed. Covid-19 is a highly contagious virus whether the ill are showing symptoms or not. It is more dangerous and deadlier than other communicable diseases with similar virality, like the flu.
People are scared and this virus has caused us to re-evaluate close-quartered spaces and busy offices. After the pandemic calms down and economies begin opening up again, will we be more cognoscente of the danger infectious diseases? Will we avoid unnecessary exposure to diseases or refuse to go back into a normal office building?
Digitising workplaces and maintaining communication
Experiences of the ever-digitising world – and the challenge of keeping up with it – will depend on your type of work, your online capacity and how much of a digital infrastructure your company has already built. The correct application of remote work will depend greatly on the ability of that organisation to replicate and improve their organisational culture and team mentality, virtually. Technical innovations allow companies to emulate their work environments. The company culture, personnel morale, communication and community that are built on interpersonal connections and need to carefully adapt their feel and function.
It is vital for businesses to utilise the right tools and technologies suited to their requirements. They must know which and why different tools are used to create an effective, centralised hub for communication, information sharing and support. Executives, teams and individuals are able to use chat boards, instant messaging and video conferencing to make staying connected easier during a time like this. Communication is key to feeling like a team when apart and maintaining the morale of the team, who are going through similar experiences and demands.
Remaining productive and punctual can be difficult when colleagues are separated and creating a central hub can hold those workers accountable and inspire the same work ethic and comradery of their regular workplace. Learning new skills, supporting co-workers and improving productivity are all made so much easier when the digital workplace becomes is centralised and accessible.
Should companies operate remotely?
Flexible workplace policies will become more expected as potential and demand for remote work increases in the coming years. We do not know what work will look like after the pandemic. It is imaginable that most will re-enter traditional office environments while many others will want in-office requirements changed to reflect the adaptations companies adapting are making during the pandemic. Face-to-face interactions, client meetings and afterwork drinks will continue to play a significant role in company culture and service delivery. Whether it is time saved, reduced carbon footprints or newfound opportunities there are many desirable consequences to shifting business operations online.
Here are some ways companies and workers could benefit:
- No more travelling to work, spending over 30 hours a month sitting in traffic, decreasing your risk of injury, accidents and insurance concerns whilst combating climate change.
- The extra time, focusing on results and working from home can help workers boost people’s morale and productivity and recharge their creative batteries.
- Disperse potential risks, like internet access going down, load-shedding or illnesses spreading in the workplace.
- Modern communications tools are continuing to evolve on the back of improving internet access around the world. Co-workers and clients can be anywhere and maintain their access and interaction.
- Workers are not locked into a location based on proximity to an office. They can be anywhere in the world and provide the same benefit to that company
- Digitising can make a company more resilient and adaptable. Generating business practices that will stand up to the test of time.
Is the future of work from home?
The future of work has so many potential roads to potential destinations that look very different from our current and – past – conceptions of work and workplaces. So, is the future of work built by men and women working from home rather than an office? Yes and no. It is possible. These lockdowns will have shown us our potential to digitise the workplaces – our current trend – however, there will also be some longing for normalcy and regular (not virtual) workplaces.