6 lessons learned from the forced remote workforce

 


The coronavirus pandemic has affected every segment of American life, and particularly the way we work. Businesses had to rethink their operations, notably shifting from on-site to fully remote workforces in cases where it was possible and workers looked to their employers for timely guidance and information.

Not surprisingly, such a profound switch raised a lot of issues about the future of the workplace. To help companies plan their way forward, let us examine some of the lessons this forced transformation has taught us.

Productivity is possible remotely.

According to a survey by Mercer, "94% of employers say productivity has remained the same or improved since employees began working remotely." These findings contradict many early fears that a stay-at-home workforce would slack off. It also suggests that business leaders might be more open to flexible working arrangements when the pandemic is safely under control.   

Information management is crucial.

In such volatile times, workers looked to their places of employment to lead – and many businesses learned that their internal information management systems were sorely lacking. Connecting employees to the information they need where and when they need it, connecting people to processes and technology, harnessing the value of information, and turning that information into advantages for workers and companies is vital ALL the time – but has certainly been highlighted during the pandemic. 

IT support is critical.

Businesses need to ensure that their remote workers have the right technology and apps to create, communicate, and collaborate seamlessly with colleagues and clients. But more importantly, business leaders need to make sure that remote workers have access to a dedicated information technology support team to quickly address technical disruptions and keep schedules running smoothly.

Cloud computing is growing.

A recent report from IDC found that investment in cloud services has stayed strong and stable while other IT spending has declined. Revenue from the cloud has spiked for providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, suggesting that businesses will continue relying on cloud services in greater numbers as the pandemic lingers. 

Cybersecurity remains a priority. 

The threat of cyberattacks was a problem before the pandemic, but the danger is arguably greater now because of workers who use public WiFi or personal devices without updated protection. In a survey by OpenVPN, 90% of IT leaders said that remote employees pose a bigger security risk than onsite employees. These concerns aren’t likely to go away, so business leaders would be wise to have regular training sessions on security protocols for their remote workers. 

Video conference fatigue is real.

It's not surprising that the number of video meetings has skyrocketed, but more concerning is the rise of something dubbed Zoom fatigue: the exhaustion that comes from participating in meetings via video, leading to workers with depleted energy, engagement, and morale. Some companies are combating this by holding "no meeting days" or training workers to schedule video conferences only for urgent items.  

As we move forward as a collective workforce, it is valuable to examine what this unplanned remote time has revealed about how we work – particularly when it comes to connecting employees and information -- and consider what must stay around permanently.

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