When COVID-19 hit, we were all told to work remotely to respect the social isolation efforts. There were many challenges in doing so, but ultimately we got to a working state. Now with a “new normal” of remote work evolving, organizations are finding new barriers to overcome.
I had just returned from a vacation from Barbados when the orders came that anyone returning to the country needed to self-isolate for 14 days. Then came the orders from my employer, the Canadian Federal Government, that non-essential personnel were to work from home.
Like many other private and public institutions, new ways of working needed to be devised. The best technology platform for video conferencing needed to be chosen. The IT infrastructure was taxed to its maximum and needed upgrading. Managers needed to reach out proactively with their staff to deal with the mental stress of the situation.
Then a new stasis was reached. Everyone adapted more or less to the remote work from home. The hope was that this would be temporary and we could go back to regular operations soon.
It is now clear that there is no defined end in site. Organizations will need to continue to have remote workers. When a trend is sustained long enough it will establish a new normal. We are now at that tipping point. Managers need to establish solid new work parameters to accommodate remote and perhaps a hybrid of remote and on-site workers. A sustainable model for the new workplace is called for.
To build a new workplace model, we need to examine what has worked and not-worked so far. The Wall Street Journal posted this week some of the findings. On the plus side, it was found that incredibly most companies went home and did something incredible.They got their work done, seemingly without missing a beat. Executives were amazed at how well their workers performed remotely, even while juggling child care and the distractions of home.
But as time stretched on, there are some cracks starting to emerge. Projects take longer. Training is tougher. Hiring and integrating new employees, more complicated. Some employers say their workers appear less connected and bosses fear that younger professionals aren’t developing at the same rate as they would in offices, sitting next to colleagues and absorbing how they do their jobs.
As a result there is an emerging sense that the current model is not sustainable. The early productivity gains have peaked because workers left in March with a sense of doom, that their jobs were at stake. Now people are showing signs of fatigue.
Organizations, such as the Canada School of Public Service, have put out good practice guidelines for remote work. It is however, up to individual work units to implement them. And this is a new demand on managers on top of trying to keep the workflow going.
There are companies, such as Virtual Team Builders, who have years of experience in advising and guiding managers navigate the remote work force issue. They provide a situational assessment of your current context and develop a training roadmap towards a more effective and efficient work model to accommodate both remote only and hybrid remote/on-site workers cases.
In summary, it was easy to go remote fast in an urgent scenario. It doesn’t mean that it was great. New challenges are emerging that require a new work place model. Yet managers are left needing to implement this.
Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to further discover how Virtual Team Builders can help you meet the new demands of the work place.