Before the pandemic, working from home has been a luxury reserved and enjoyed only by entrepreneurs, as a special arrangement to accommodate an employee in specific cases, and any other job that does not require an office space. COVID-19 changed all that and forced the dissolution of traditional office landscapes and many sectors were to adapt and begin working at home.
The global pandemic brought about by the coronavirus strain COVID-19 dramatically disrupted how we live our everyday lives, how we run our businesses and how we work. Businesses were suddenly obligated to decide whether to adjust, to pause their operations or to close their businesses.
Redefining the Workplace
The pandemic greatly redefined the workplace and compelled business leaders from all sectors to reassess their businesses, including their operational structures. Those who chose to remain operational have shifted their workforce strategies, adapted and implemented work from home policies for the safety of their employees.
The transition to remote work or working from home began before 2020. Though COVID-19 contributed to the abrupt shift, working from home began accelerating.
The bulk of online remote work can be attributed to freelancing. The improvement of technology also contributed a major role. With this, attitudes towards the workplace shifted, as more flexibility in working hours and location are factors that drove the transition faster.
New Investments in Digital Technologies
Adapting to what is now perceived as the new normal for working environments all over the world, businesses who had invested in digital technologies seamlessly adjusted to work from home by employing cloud-based applications, and modern IT infrastructure. It is, however, a different tale for most businesses.
Pre-pandemic, investments in digital technologies were considered not a priority due to its being perceived to be a cost. The resulting “thrift” of these companies caused their operations to be paralysed and is now left in a predicament thinking of ways to remain afloat.
As companies scrambled to equip their employees with devices and software, a natural progression affected the surge in sales of laptops and tablets alongside subscriptions to cloud based productivity software and tools.
Shift in Work and Attitudes
It used to be rare to be working from home as far back as a decade ago. In more recent times, telework and teleconferencing developed into an advanced state that it became possible for many businesses to function with remote teams and allow their employees to work from home on certain days of the working week.
Most companies today make it a conscious effort to plan how they are going to operate in the new normal. Working from home imposed a paradigm shift on how we traditionally do things and go about our business.
Though working from home is not a viable option for all industries, those who do, have to consider several factors to be successful, apart from investing in technology. They now have to consider, define, and monitor their employees :
- Job profiles and responsibilities
- Working environment status with regard to their equipment and connectivity
- Mental attitudes and health
Until this pandemic is over, these companies will have to constantly reassess on how to make things work. It is therefore prudent for these companies to move fast and get up to speed. And even if things go back to normal, the new office work ecosystem might persist because the workforce has now learned and adapted to new behaviors on how they conduct work.
However, many companies that have not initially invested in office automation and digital technologies, they have now taken steps to keep up and employ strategies and experimentation that would work for their employees and their organisation to remain operational and survive. Sadly, not everything will work, and many of them will fail.
Back then, most employers were hesitant to allow their workers to work from home. Their major concern is the notion that there would be loss of productivity. They feel that an employee would be idle when not in constant supervision.
An obvious fact that benefits companies with work from home strategies is that they save on office operational costs and utility expenses. It has also been proven in surveys that office workers who chose to work from home environments are more productive when working in the comfort of their own homes.
Employees are freed from the morning and afternoon traffic rush. They found more time and flexibility balancing their professional and personal lives. Company executives and leaders now have to contend with a twofold challenge: How to manage their stress and anxiety, as well as making sure in assisting their subordinates does the same.
The anxiety of not getting clear expectations from supervisors or managers tends to make an employee anxious. In work from home situations, the need for clarity is prime and each task is well defined, queries are immediately addressed, and timetables are much more efficiently met.
As such, business organisations must improve on their work from home or remote work policies and capabilities. When done right, employers and employees alike tend to focus more on what would be beneficial for both company and employee – performance. Actual work performance can be easily monitored rather than be swayed by an indication of productivity and favouritism in a traditional office environment.
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