Is Working from Home the Best Long-Term Solution?

Due to the current pandemic, many people are now working from home. While working remotely has many benefits – no commuting issues, wear sweatpants all day, work with your dog! – is it the best long-term option? Will it be sustainable for most companies to continue to have a remote workforce and still remain successful? There a few things that will impact whether remote working is really the best long-term solution for an organization.

Changing Culture of Collaboration

Today’s collaboration technology allows people to connect and collaborate easily from any location or device. And because of the recent trend towards more remote working that started before the pandemic, many companies already had established remote working strategies that included tools set up for teams to collaborate effectively. That meant companies with good standards and systems in place were used to things like video conferencing and UC collaboration, so they could quickly pivot and accommodate for an increase in remote workers.

However, many companies had little to no experience dealing with a remote workforce and did not have any strategy in place at all. They are really just winging it and trying to find the best solution on the fly. And this quick response means many solutions might not work in the long-term, or are causing a big adjustment period as people get used to using new technology and collaborating in a different way. The solutions might not have all the tools necessary for teams to work together effectively, and they might not be flexible enough to also work once people are back in an office environment.

Depending on the strategy and approach, some companies are set up better than others to adjust to ongoing remote interactions. This will also influence if working from an office or from home might be the best option for them moving forward. Often the ways teams best worked together in the past will influence how they work together moving forward, regardless of location. That is why spending time understanding the specific needs of each group within an organization will help determine the type of tools that will be required to make them successful.

The Emotional Impact

Remember Suzy from Production who used to drive you nuts at the office with annoying stories about her cat? You are starting to miss Suzy just a little bit, right? That is because humans in general, crave social interaction. Not only is social interaction an important part of emotional wellbeing, it is also essential to effective teamwork and creativity.

A recent Google research project found that groups are most productive and creative when they have “psychological safety” – confidence in their team and their ability to speak up freely without being embarrassed to come up with new ideas. And it is things like office banter, water cooler chit chat and random in-person interactions that helps create these types of bonds and makes the most creative, productive work possible. Working remotely means you are not having incidental conversations with other coworkers, just those necessary to complete your specific projects. And it is often talking with those in the office that are not part of your day-to-day job requirements that helps improve teamwork, build culture and influence company loyalty.

Working by yourself can also be lonely and stressful. Research shows that always being accessible when working remotely leads to the blurring of work and non-work boundaries. A recent report found that 41% of remote workers had high stress levels, compared to 25% of office workers. Also, another study saw that over 60% of remote workers didn’t feel engaged with their team. It’s the loneliness that will drive many to crave the interactions that can only be achieved in an office environment.

Slowly Transitioning to a New Way of Working

In all reality, for many reasons, most companies will need at least some of the workforce to be in the office in order to operate successfully. A 100% remote workforce will not be an effective or practical solution. However, because of health concerns and new government regulations, a gradual transition to working in the office will more than likely be the most common approach for many companies.

As companies slowly reopen, they will have to readjust their cubicles, meeting rooms and shared spaces to accommodate for the new requirements. Conference rooms that previously were for 16 people may now only safely accommodate 4. A cubicle space for 16 can now only fit half of that. And new regulations regarding temperature checking and other health precautions will also influence the new office environment.

Companies will need to adjust their collaboration strategy for the new way of working, ensuring they have the appropriate tools in place for a more remote workforce while also adjusting for a new normal in the office environment. It will be essential that all solutions allow people in meeting spaces to easily connect and collaborate with remote participants and feel safe while working in the office.

Consider partnering with an AV expert like Cenero for a tech consultation for what type of collaboration strategy might work best for the office of the future. We can work with you to understand the ways your company meets, what technology will be needed to allow people to do their jobs most effectively and how to solve new issues that will inevitably pop up due to new regulations. We can also provide recommendations regarding new tools that might be needed, like Temperature Check Kiosks. Reach out to Cenero for a tech evaluation.

p

By Rob Gilfillan, President of Cenero

As President of Cenero, Rob oversees all customer facing aspects of the business and helps shape overall market strategy. By focusing on the customer and integrating technology to streamline business processes, Rob has created a unique business model that produces cost effective solutions for customers while also delivering specific applications that will improve overall value to an organization. Rob has been integral in developing a discovery and design philosophy that addresses criteria typically missed by other integrators. He has been an integral part of designing, deploying and supporting thousands of collaborative solutions for education, corporate and non-profit institutions.

ts