Well, it’s been a weird couple of months hasn’t it? The entire world has been in lockdown, we’ve had to quickly fashion a home office out of a kitchen table and a couple of books under your laptop, and only seeing your co-workers only in the form of a buffering video call - but the remote experiment is seemingly coming to an end.
That means things are going back to normal, right? Well, not quite. A new business climate is emerging, one that aligns with our evolving, changing values. Perhaps hold off cancelling the systems you’ve put in place for remote working just yet.
Flexibility is the Future
During lockdown, you will have no doubt heard the phrase “the great remote working experiment”. For a long time businesses and employees alike had a hypothesis they needed to prove, and yet before the pandemic, no one was willing to volunteer to make the jump. Unfortunately, this experiment was hampered by the fact this “experiment” has not been remote working as usual. Having to homeschool kids, not being able to work from coffee shops, or be location independent in any way, meant that the main benefit of remote working, increased flexibility, wasn’t able to be experienced.
Despite this, many businesses and employees alike have found a new love for remote working and want to continue it post-pandemic. Of course, there are those who are desperate to be back in the office too, so it brings us back to flexibility. Moving forward, especially in the next few weeks, returning to the office is expected to be staggered, splitting teams between remote and office-based. In order to manage both successfully, you need software that’s going to work anywhere - office or otherwise - and as we move forward this flexibility will be even more of an issue.
Once children return to schools, and employees realise they can do their job from anywhere so don’t want to live in expensive cities, or they simply prefer the quiet focus, flexibility will become a prerequisite not a perk, and to stay competitive with others in your industry, you’re going to need the infrastructure that comes with using software and tools that work both for office-based and remote employees.
Practically speaking, according to scientists, the likelihood of a second peak in Winter is extremely high, so staying the course using remote software until after the second peak seems like the least disruptive way to run your teams, whether they’re currently working in the office or not. Obviously tools like Zoom aren’t necessary if you’re all in the same room, but status update and collaboration softwares, like Wundamail, can be used whether you’re all in the office, wholly remote, or somewhere in between.
This way, you can offer your team some consistency. Even if there isn’t a second wave, coming back to the office at the moment is going to be unusual, disjointed and uncomfortable for a lot of us. Keep some consistency by carrying over the processes that your team have become accustomed to over the past four months. We’ve been through enough change, so make it easier for yourself and your team and think of the software as location independent software, rather than remote - after all it works as well in the office as it does at home.
Don’t Default Back
It’s logical to want to default back to “normal” once you’re back in the office, but this is an opportunity that cannot be squandered. Much like how not many managers wanted to give remote working a proper try until a pandemic forced the issue, a lot of businesses didn’t want to try new software or ways of working until they realised their existing systems didn’t work successfully outside of the office (and that’s if they ever really worked at all).
During lockdown, we had to quickly adjust to a new way of working and for the majority of us, that meant ditching the red tape and focusing on what matters. That included getting rid of lengthy meetings with no workable outcomes, having to implement software that visually organised projects and their different stages in real time for the whole team to see, and condensing our daily status updates into a few short lines to save time and free up time to be more productive.
Why would we want to go back to how things were? This was a step in the right direction for productivity, efficiency and inclusivity. If we’re ditching anything on our return to the office, it should be these inefficient processes, red tape and protocol, and not your remote software. The beauty of remote software is that it allows your team the ability to work from anywhere as well as if they were in the office. The use of remote-friendly software doesn’t mean that you have to let your entire team become digital nomads, but it allows them to work from home once a week if they need to pick their child up, or can still stay in the loop if they’re out of town at a conference, or if certain employees work better at home it opens that possibility up, and that’s what flexibility is all about.