What 2020 Taught Us About Remote Work
The world of work has changed in 2020, and there are some valuable lessons to be learned
2020 has been a year like no other. Covid-19 has changed the world as we know it, including the world of work.
With stay-at-home orders in force across the country for large parts of the year, businesses have had to adapt to survive. Whole workforces have suddenly been required to work remotely with little to no warning, leading to enormous strains on the infrastructures of those businesses which were ill-prepared.
There are some valuable lessons to be learned from this sudden shift to remote working. As businesses get more comfortable with a remote operation style, it’s an excellent time to consider the key takeaways from 2020 to make sure that the positive elements are taken forward into 2021.
The remote work model has longevity
Although some companies are understandably keen to move back to a more traditional operating structure, research shows that employees are positive about remote work. In June, a PWC survey found that the majority of employees would like to be able to work remotely more frequently in the future, albeit with a mix of face-to-face contact with colleagues and customers to provide a good balance.
This gets straight to the heart of one of the main lessons of 2020. Satisfaction with work-life balance is often reported to improve with an increase in remote working, and for many companies, this operating model is here to stay. However, it has become evident that remote work requires a good, effective communications structure to keep colleagues in touch with each other. The remote work model has longevity and can help businesses save on office costs and overheads, but will only succeed when implemented within a good strategy for staff connectivity.
Remote work has become popular with employees
The importance of good IT infrastructure cannot be overstated
Those who manage complex projects across multiple locations already know the value of remote access, but 2020 was the year when everyone else caught up.
Employees must be able to access the information and systems they need instantly and securely. Data lags or slow loading speeds aren’t an option. Key applications need to be available online, and data needs to flow smoothly between those applications.
If you haven’t already, now is an excellent time to take stock of your current IT infrastructure to assess whether it’s fit for purpose going forward. Are your systems online-enabled and accessible from anywhere? Is your business-critical information hosted securely in the cloud? A major lesson learned for many businesses in 2020 is that you need to be able to answer yes to questions like these to be able to operate effectively remotely.
Planning for business continuity is a must-do, not a nice-to-have
While all businesses try and predict the challenges and opportunities they will encounter in the forthcoming months and years, very few would have predicted the massive scale of change experienced in 2020.
The pandemic has underlined the need to plan for the unexpected. This means having a tight, focused business continuity plan, which gives the flexibility to operate in-person or remotely with very little notice. The aim is to keep operations running as close to normal as possible, no matter what the operating circumstances.
A business continuity plan is a must-have for all businesses
Those companies who had a plan in place to allow staff to walk out of the office with little warning, and still be able to function effectively, were the ones who felt the least pain in 2020. Internal communications, external client meetings, regular reporting, financial controls; they all need to be covered in the business continuity plan. The hope is that you never have to enact that plan, but 2020 has demonstrated that sometimes you may have to.
Change is constant and is an opportunity to take stock
Although 2020 has been hugely challenging for many businesses, the change that it has brought has also presented opportunities.
Covid-19 has forced a rapid evolution of the way that many companies do business. That forced evolution has provided the chance to assess current work practices, identify broken processes, and streamline inefficiencies. It’s hard to visualize a working world where everything returns to exactly how it was before the pandemic, so 2021 presents an opportunity to ‘build back better.’
Accepting change, and that it could bring some benefits, is one of the key lessons from 2020. Not all of the changes of the last few months have been negative, and the key now is to look for the changes that have brought positive benefits and weave them into your future operating model.
The lessons learned in 2020 give a useful roadmap for the future
While 2020 has been a difficult year for many, taking stock of what the year has taught us about remote work can help strengthen business practice moving forwards.
It’s crucial to consider issues such as infrastructure readiness, hosting capacity, and your approach to internal communications, to make the most of the opportunities that remote working can offer.
One of the best ways to ensure you have a bullet-proof business continuity plan is to move your business-critical applications into the cloud. You need to ensure that your whole workforce has real-time access to the information they need to do their jobs, no matter their location. If this sounds like something that you would like to explore for your business, get in touch with our expert team to discuss the services we can offer.