The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of employees to work from home. In the months and years ahead, experts say remote work will become more prevalent. In this article, we take a look at the influence COVID-19 will have on organisational changes to their remote workforce policies.
COVID-19 accelerates the growth of remote workforce
Although working remotely is now widely seen as a temporary measure, experts say it’s more likely to become the norm. They are recommending that we treat the temporary remote work situation caused by the lockdown as the trial run for a permanent and expanded remote workforce.
Technology leads the way
According to remote work strategist, Laurel Farrer, it typically takes six to 12 weeks for a smooth transition from on-site to remote work. Companies are now having to make the leap immediately without the time to plan the process correctly.
Many companies have had to adjust on the fly to deal with a lack of equipment and policies, insufficient broadband access, missing or inadequate software, appropriate cybersecurity measures and other elements that would typically fall into place given weeks or months to plan.
The working world has gone from looking at remote work as an option to realizing it’s an inevitability. “It went from, ‘Is this happening?’ to ‘It’s here. How can we make this sustainable?’” Farrer said.
“Too many companies are concentrating on finding a collaboration tool when the bigger issue is training people how to work with others in remote work situations,” said Jack Gold, founder of J. Gold Associates.
“It’s as much (or more) about the ‘how-to’ than ‘the technology required to do it, and many companies don’t know how.’
Strengthening the human element
It is no simple feat to transition all your employees into a decentralised, remote workforce. Those companies that were in the process of moving to a remote workforce model are the lucky ones. They have had time to plan and prepare. The rest of the world has had to do it immediately, on the fly.
With the onset of COVID-19, management has been forced to make some hard decisions around remote work to ensure the survival of the company. One of the big changes is the notion that you cannot manage your workers if you cannot see them. However, COVID-19 has changed this forever. You are now obliged to practice social distancing from your employees but fortunately, by making use of available IT technology, you can remotely see them and interact with them.
Shifting to a remote workforce
Shifting from mostly on-site to fully remote is considerably more complicated than just sending employees home with laptops. It also requires significant shifts in management practices and communication methods.
COVID-19 and beyond
The COVID-19 pandemic will force us to change the way we do business. The most obvious change is the accelerated adoption of a remote workforce by a business. Working remotely is entrenched in the IT industry and business will use their experience to roll out procedures and policies to the rest of the organisation.