With productivity being a massively important metric for every business, situations like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic create a lot of fear and uncertainty; especially with businesses having to find new ways to go about doing things so that they can keep revenue coming in. This week, we thought we’d take a minute to look into how businesses have made it this far and how each element of a business has had to react to the ongoing crisis.
Prior to the pandemic, it was relatively rare to see a business that embraced remote working en masse. Sure, some positions were outsourced, and on the rare occasion where it was necessary, they would allow an employee to work remotely. All in all, many businesses viewed the practice as taboo. This wasn’t just because business owners would seemingly lose control over their employees, as many have posited, it was just that in this day and age, it is hard to build a company identity, with positive company culture, if you never see the other people.
Looking back at it now, it was a combination of a little too much fear due to the uncertainty behind it all. As COVID-19 made it necessary for businesses to move their workforces out of their brick and mortar locations, it became pretty clear that much of the fear of remote work was misplaced. Even today, where a large portion of information workers remain out of the office, there are problems with remote work. The most pressing include:
- Lack of face-to-face collaboration
- Individual dips in productivity
- Lease on brick and mortar location
- Depleting company culture
These concerns persist and businesses are trying to establish plans to get their workers back into the office as much as possible. Workers, however, have a different view.
Every organization has employees that are simply better off coming to the office every day, but the vast majority of newly remote workers are now balking at going back to the office full time. It’s their position that there are just too many benefits of working from home, and since it is evident that they can do their jobs from their home (or wherever they do their jobs from) that returning to the office is just an arbitrary move by business owners to take back control over their businesses. This issue, while not as pressing presently with variants of the COVID-19 virus still causing problems, isn’t going to go away; and, it figures to change the dynamics of employment for information workers going forward.
Workers like the flexibility of working from home. Even if they work an hourly job at designated periods of the day, the lack of travel (and pants) give workers more control over their lives. Of course, there are some workers who aren’t cut out for the responsibilities of working from home, but the lion’s share of workers are adamant that they don’t want to go back to the office full time. This is where you see the conflict. Workers that don’t want to go back to the office, plenty of remote-only jobs available, and experience working from home creates a situation where business owners cannot just demand they go back to an office. Turnover is extraordinarily expensive.
Many businesses have considered going to a hybrid strategy where people work in an office in a rotation to get the most out of their time in the office. This is a compromise, and many businesses are in the process of setting up metrics that can measure a person’s ability to work from home and their contribution inside the office. Over time, this is probably the work strategy many businesses are going to go to. Employees in the office for meetings and collaborative tasks and out of the office for productivity. It’s a lot of moving parts just to do the same job people have been doing for over a year remotely, but it will allow businesses to get their people back in the office and give them an opportunity to see what’s best for their company.
The important motivations are always going to be the same in business. It really doesn’t matter where you do business... as long as you make a great product or service, market and sell it proficiently, and make sure it is supported, you should be golden. In order to do this while your workforce is dispersed, there are some specific technologies that you will need to utilize to maximize the value to your organization. Some of these technologies include:
- Collaboration tools (cloud-hosted productivity, project management)
- Communication tools (telephone, email, video conferencing)
- Document management
- Customer Relationship Management (customer support, ticketing, client communications)
- Business management software (time management, task management)
- Training applications (security, software, process training)
- Human Resource Management (applicant tracking, onboarding/offboarding)
- Cybersecurity tools (network monitoring, firewalls, spam filtering)
- Remote desktop or Virtual Private Network
This is a very short list of things you will need to facilitate in-house and remote workers at the same time. A lot of businesses have migrated over to cloud-hosted platforms so that they can cut the costs of managing their own infrastructure, but that is a determination that you and your IT administrator should make based on the importance of the data and applications used in each system.
The IT experts at One Up Solutions Northwest can help you ensure that you have the right technology that you need to maximize your remote (and in-house) employees’ ability to be productive and support your business during a very confusing time. Give us a call today at (503) 278-5011 to learn more.