Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs, examines how technology and communication will need to adapt for remote working.
Adapting to change is never easy, especially the recent and far-reaching changes made to nearly every business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst many industries have had to close completely for periods of time this year, almost every employee has seen the way that they work change and evolve over the past nine months. The British workforce has seen a dramatic shift, with the advancements in technology making it both accessible and affordable for businesses to incorporate tools which allow greater flexibility and autonomy for remote working. But the sudden switch to remote working has required an adjustment for many. As government guidance and rules continue to change whilst they attempt to keep control of the virus, business leaders need to adapt quickly to ensure that their business and employees are able to keep up, stay safe, and perform whilst working remotely.
While the number of working adults continuing to work from home has risen, jumping to 24% from 21%, especially after the government updated guidance for people to remain at home and avoid public transportation, workers still crave personal connections; whether having a “water-cooler” conversation, or asking a colleague a question in-person. During a time in which teams are not able to be physically together, it is vital to keep up company morale and ensure information is flowing freely throughout the company.
Connection is key for remote teams
After months of remote work, employees have adapted and found ways to work that are best for them; however, with the shift away from in-person collaboration, it is easier to focus on getting tasks done rather than necessarily building stronger connections with colleagues. It’s easy to lose sight of how important team collaboration is, not only from a well-being perspective, but from an overall business perspective.
Recently, Owl Labs released a data report on the State of Remote Work, which surveyed 2,000 full-time UK workers, revealing that 44% of UK full-time workers plan to work a full five day working-week from home, with 15% willing to take a pay cut of 5% to continue to work remotely. As employers rethink the workplace, they must make sure their decision will be the best for all and be supportive of their employees throughout the decision making process, since many workers find it difficult to efficiently collaborate with their teams spread across multiple locations.
A recent study conducted by Riverbed found that business leaders reported that their team faced technology performance issues whilst remote working, with poor quality of video meetings being the most common problem. As we enter into new ways of working, companies will need to be agile and open to employee expectations when navigating the changing working environment and working life. 2020 has pushed the ‘work from anywhere’ movement forward, and leaders need to put employees first and accommodate different workstyles in order to adapt their company culture to a remote environment.
Providing the right technology for better communication
Whilst difficult, workers have had to adjust to not being in the same room as their colleagues, and thus the reliance on telecommunication has never been so high. As we become more dependent on such tools moving forward, business leaders need to make sure the virtual experience is frictionless and positive for all parties involved, wherever they may be.
Technology has, and will continue, to play a large role in developing the favoured term of the ‘new normal’. As we’ve already become accustomed to collaborative tools like Slack and Zoom, such technology will power new workflows between people and locations, allowing for seamless communication and collaboration to keep distributed teams engaged and productive. Additionally, these tools can help to remove time-consuming tasks and allow workers to focus more on maximising their own skills and helping the business achieve its goals.
Hybrid working is here to stay
The future of work will rely on company cultures that focus on being inclusive, interesting and purpose-driven, according to a recent Poly report. There are big opportunities for companies who can move fast to recruit the best talent regardless of location, to cut operational costs with smaller offices, and have a happy workforce by offering flexible hybrid working to better fit in with employees’ work-life demands.
People can live, work, and communicate from anywhere, but the challenge is maintaining human connection despite location. Strong communication is key, and while remote working provides employees with flexibility, it can also bring a feeling of disconnection. When not able to be physically present with teammates, having access to technology that allows workers to feel as if they’re in the same room can create that feeling of being part of a team that’s very much missed.
With some much uncertainty still in front of us, along with another national lockdown, having job openings available to distributed workers can expand a company’s talent pool, and employees will be happier knowing that they can do their job from wherever they are.