Covid-19 has been a mass trial run for remote working that no one expected. Before the outbreak of the global pandemic, many organizations may have hoped that they could trial run remote working but never got around to it. Some organizations allowed remote working for certain business divisions and not others and many organizations never wanted remote working to be part of their culture.
Whichever way you felt about remote working previously, the chances are that it is here to stay.
Remote Working Is Not Actually So New
Despite the shock experienced by many people and businesses when governments worldwide announced strict quarantines and lockdowns that prevented normal working routines, for millions of people it made no difference. In the US 3.4% of the population were working from home pre-pandemic and in the EU more than 22 million people were working remotely already.
“I have worked remotely for 10 years for writing sites in the States and the United Kingdom,” says, Hayley Nicks a HR at Writinity.com and Researchpapersuk.com. “The biggest change for me is that I can’t travel like I used to – for fun or work, but my working day is the same as it was.”
We’re Not Out of The Woods Yet
According to the US Government, Covid-19 vaccines will be available by the end of 2020 if not before. That means, at a minimum, we have seven more months of uncertainty, maybe more. Businesses will have to make choices along the way. Stay as they are with the entire workforce at home or, if allowed, work a staggered system of shifts with fewer people on work premises at any one time. With the physical adaptions needed for workspaces, such as desk screens, canteen spacing, increased cleaning services, and fewer people per office, there is a considerable expense to be occurred before letting people back into workplaces. Many businesses may decide to cut their costs by abandoning their rented offices and keeping the workforce at home for the unforeseen future.
Technology Is Easy and Affordable
Cloud technology has been a blessing for businesses and organizations forced to shift their teams to remote working spaces and home working. An article on the Hosting Tribunal website at the start of 2020, estimated that 90% of organizations were in the cloud. For them, the disruption would have been minimal. The CRM, email, accounting software, and more will have been the same. The location and daily routines will be what differ. Nearly everything that is needed for the average workplace workday now has a cloud alternative.
Not only is this technology available but it is also affordable. Swathes of businesses were already opting for cloud-based IT systems instead of inhouse IT teams because of the cost savings. Communications too are largely affordable. The world has embraced video meetings thanks to the flexibility – and cost-free options – offered by sites like Zoom and WhatsApp.
“There’s no excuse now for a lot of businesses to have no remote working policy”, thinks, Austin Vaal tech blogger at Draftbeyond.com and Lastminutewriting.com. “This quarantine has proved we can adapt and that the technology needed is simple to use.”
We Know What Works Now
This global trial run has proven what will and what will not work from a remote working perspective. Any road bumps will have been highlighted by now, like work from home burnout and video meeting fatigue, enabling businesses to pre-empt any issues and put in place systems to overcome them. Innovative business solutions have come from the Covid-19 lockdown to help organizations manage remote worker productivity and importantly, employee wellness from afar.
What Happens Next?
As restrictions begin to ease worldwide, organizations are faced with big decisions about remote working. They will need to assess if it is viable to keep those that can work at home as remote workers permanently or if they expect a full return to work sites and with it the risk of contagion.
Workers are faced with their own dilemmas. If they are expected to return to work premises, how will they travel safely, and will there be adequate care options for dependent children that allow them to return to work as before?
Only when these questions are answered will we truly know if remote working is the new normal.