For years, the trend for businesses was moving away from remote work. This year has flipped that paradigm on its head. Now companies big and small are scrambling to get everything online as quickly as possible.
This is the future the world holds. Like it or not, remote work is likely here to stay. Instead of fighting it, your best bet is to accept this shift, look for guidance from companies that have already transitioned, and focus on learning as you go.
This is the new normal.
Large corporations are making the shift towards leaving their offices behind. Amazon is dropping the lease on an entire building in Seattle. Facebook is working to hire more people from diverse locations and plans on keeping as much as 50% of its staff remote. Twitter is allowing much of its staff to remain remote indefinitely if they choose to. Other companies like Slack and Shopify are following suit and plan to all but eliminate physical offices.
While resistant to the change, after making the switch, many companies aren’t seeing the need to go back to the way they did things before. They see the advantages of working remotely and are working to bridge the gaps that still exist.
Up to 77% of workers feel they are just as productive at home as they are in the office. They often feel more at ease while at home and don’t feel as stressed by their work as before. Many people are avoiding lengthy commutes and are gaining hours back to their days.
The biggest holdout has always been a lack of trust on the part of managers. The prevailing thought was that employees would get less done if left to their own devices. However, as that myth turns out to be false, the urgency to return to the office is dissipating.
The pandemic is what forced this change, but what is likely to keep it in place is the money. Leaders see that their expensive offices aren’t as critical as they thought. As companies brace themselves for a continued downturn in the economy, saving money without sacrificing productivity will be hard to turn down.
Look at successful examples.
While tech giants are new to having so many white-collar workers logging in from home, there are others who have been going remote for years. These tireless advocates are happy to share the wisdom they have learned while growing remotely by choice.
Look at Automattic, the company behind WordPress. They have been working remotely without issues as long as they have been in business, and the company has no plans to change. Even before this pandemic, they saw the advantage of keeping their offices virtual. They have worked long and hard to stay that way and have developed ways around all of the problems that you are likely facing.
Automattic already has guides to help you with everything you probably need to get started remotely, offering advice on topics like:
- Setting up a remote work strategy for companies and individuals.
- The basics of remote management
- How to meaningfully communicate with people long distance
- Detailed looks into everyday life
- Establishing morning routines
- Finding the best tools for collaboration
- Effectively communicating asynchronously
- Staying mindful during video conferences
The companies that manage to thrive in these new scenarios often have a few things in common. They take the time and effort to invest heavily in cloud-based tech. It just makes sense with a virtual office to have the ability to communicate and share data without issues within the company.
The companies that make it are the ones who are confident to trust their employees to stay on task and get things accomplished. If done right, managers have less over the shoulder work to do while employees have the autonomy to get things accomplished on their terms. Companies that invested in trust before the pandemic are the ones who are seeing this trust carry over. These entities have already focused on putting in place a culture that values being open and flexible. Micromanagement has never been particularly helpful.
Finally, these companies are making an effort to connect their companies together virtually. They are supplementing the connection that is the biggest thing employees miss with virtual chats and events. Virtual happy hours, meditation, exercise classes, and networking events are allowing us to cultivate a healthy culture and blow off some steam without having to be in the office physically.
Learn as you go
Some of the biggest obstacles will be things like transitioning from synchronous to asynchronous communication. A thriving company will have to find a happy medium that allows them to get things done without constant meetings.
Adopt new tools and sharpen the ones you already have. Look for new software that can facilitate what you need to get done. Find new and creative uses for the subscriptions you already use.
These problems are the same for everyone on your team. Tackle them as a community. Brainstorming and talking things over will help your employees solve issues and feel more connected while they do it. Don’t just find a boilerplate solution and then force it down their throats.
Have everyone share their personal solution to building an ergonomic workspace. Discuss what equipment they are in love with and what kind of desk is working best for them. Figure out how the team is staying active and what they are doing to stay fresh during the day. Get managers to set up strategies to focus and stay focused. Develop new ways to remain autonomous but still have accountability.
With the transition to remote work becoming required, the need to adapt is real. Working on systems and developing open communication within a business will allow it to thrive during these difficult times.
By focusing on solving the issues we have as they arise and looking for examples of companies who have already been successful, the path will become clear. Working remotely is a game of give and take, but we can reach an ideal compromise by learning as we work.