In only a few short months, the work landscape has been forever changed. Prior to COVID-19, few could have imagined an incident like this. While many organizations prepared for disruptive incidents in their business continuity planning, almost no one was ready for the devastating impact of a global event.
Not only that, businesses are having to be flexible with the challenges affecting employees’ personal lives, such as school and daycare closures. For many parents who are fortunate enough to be able to telework, they are having to juggle work with homeschooling and childcare. There are other challenges employees are having to balance as well, including their health and well-being.
Pre- and Post-COVID
There is already an obvious difference in the pre- and post-coronavirus eras. As the crisis is not anywhere near over, we can expect this to continue changing. However, as of right now, the most noticeable difference is the changing attitude toward teleworking.
Previously, many organizations preferred face-to-face engagement. Companies required their employees to be in the office, at least most of the time. Teleworking was either not an option, and option for a select few, or available on a less-frequent basis.
Leaders at more traditional companies found it difficult to fathom how employees could be as productive or more productive when working at home. Even many IT companies required their employees and contractors to be road warriors, sacrificing time at home for what they saw as more productive in-person meetings for client engagements.
Teleworking is working
Teleworking is now a necessity for ensuring business continuity. In the wake of COVID-19, companies could no longer mandate in-office work. Jobs that “could not be done remotely” are being done – in part because workplaces are investing in the resources necessary for seamless remote access.
Employees on average are working more hours at home (a 40% increase in the United States). Those who were less tech-savvy have adapted to become fluent in Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx. Supervisors are figuring out how to manage people without questioning every move or log-on.
How to succeed moving forward:
This new working environment will not change any time soon. Many companies are already rethinking their brick-and-mortar locations, office sizes, etc. They are investing in remote access and the hardware, software and tools needed to support a virtual workforce. Teleworking is here to stay, and there are a few things that will set you above the rest:
Support your employees. Review your policies for using vacation time. Find ways to offer mental health resources. Reconsider your standard working hours to give people more flexibility.
Use the right tools. By now, most companies have adopted some form of teleconferencing tool, like WebEx, Zoom, or GoToMeeting. Collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams offer a versatile and robust experience for your employees to communicate and work together, enabling their productivity.
Invest in Business Continuity. We’ve seen that organizations with a strong Business Continuity Plan fared much better than those without. For a deep dive into the subject, we developed a list of IT considerations and guidelines for your Business Continuity preparedness.
Push security training. Employees need security training to be less susceptible to cybercrimes. It’s more important than ever that you invest in teleworker security to protect your remote workforce. Even if you have the right technology, your users need to be educated on security.
Review your expectations. Accept that long-term teleworking can look very different from the short-term crisis your teams are working through right now. A true teleworking environment means that your employees have childcare during work hours and an at-home setup with no distractions.
Think outside the box
Furthermore, if you are bringing workers back into the office, make sure that you have considered every aspect of that transition. Among other things, you will probably need to change your sanitation policies, alternate workdays, redo physical office layouts for maintain distancing between people, update sick leave policies, implement temperature checks, and adjust access to kitchens and other shared spaces.
People are innately averse to change. COVID-19 was an unscheduled, worldwide change – and it’s still unresolved. As companies assess whether their current business model is still viable, it might be the time to think outside the box. Adapting to the current situation requires a paradigm shift your leadership mentality as it pertains to the workforce.