Technology Tips for Keeping Remote Work Gains After the Pandemic
No matter the industry, the Covid-19 pandemic forced many organizations to adopt new and novel ways of working in order to be able to continue operating during many months of uncertainty and constant change. But over a year later, now that pandemic restrictions are being lifted in the United States and in other countries around the world, it’s time for you to reflect on the major improvements your organization has discovered and implemented along the way, as well as decide which changes are worth keeping long term.
Evaluating the Workforce & Technology Gains from the Pandemic
The advent of remote work showed companies that they didn't need to spend as much on physical work locations and real estate as they did before. With so many workers reporting that they'd prefer to work from home indefinitely or part of the time, for many organizations, it’s no longer necessary to maintain facilities large enough to house an entire workforce and keep them running 24/7, resulting in significant cost savings. Decreased dependency on central offices also translates into a reduction of organizational carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions, since fewer employees have the need to commute to a single location day in and day out.
As PepsiCo put in their flexible policy for corporate staff as part of their work plans communication strategy, "a flexible workforce is a more sustainable one, too. With roughly 50% of corporate associates working remotely at any given time, pollution from driving will be dramatically reduced. In fact, for every 100 employees who work from home twice a week, PepsiCo will save 70 tons of greenhouse gas emissions."
Remote communication technologies and modern online collaboration software have also granted workers greater and more democratic access to shared resources than ever before, translating into significant equity and accessibility gains for many. As long as remote workers have the tools they need to succeed, many find they can thrive in the virtual space because they are no longer impeded by traditional barriers to participation.
These technological and accessibility gains are important because they represent a competitive advantage for employers looking for new ways to be more agile and attractive to an increasingly diverse workforce in a highly competitive labor market. So how can companies or institutions like yours make sure you keep similar workforce and technology gains that were made during the pandemic? Here are five areas to consider:
Technology Tips for Every Company
Focus on investing in and developing these areas of your technological infrastructure in order to maintain and enhance your post-pandemic organizational gains.
1. Remote Work
The benefits of remote work are so undeniable that many companies like Google, Salesforce, Ford, and Target are actively transforming their workforces so that they can become all-remote or hybrid organizations going forward. So for the roles in which it makes sense for your organization, you can look at adaptations that have been made to enable people to work offsite, and translate this into remote-friendly setups going forward. For example, if your organization invested in laptops and software for employees to do their jobs from afar during the pandemic, now is a great time to consider a permanent hardware and software shift that enables remote work going forward, rather than continuing to invest in technology and infrastructure that ties staff unnecessarily to corporate work locations.
If your organization, like many, began opening roles up regardless of proximity to a company worksite in order to recruit talent from everywhere, keep your permanently remote staff happy where they are by offering them stipends for coworking space memberships close to their homes as you are opening up corporate locations for other team members. It’s a great way to keep your in-house and remote employees feeling equally satisfied and supported despite the distances between them if you move to a hybrid work model.
2. Worksite Setups
In the event that your organization chooses to keep its physical offices, this would be a great time to downsize and/or repurpose them as coworking spaces that facilitate in-person and hybrid modes of collaboration and participation. So rather than give every employee a dedicated workspace and desk (as was done traditionally), consider building communal work spaces that are made to be shared and support flexible schedules. Feature first-come, first-serve hot desks and include teleconferencing equipment in every room.
3. Video Calls
During the pandemic, most organizations adopted technology to enable video calls to facilitate face-to-face communications between employees. Now it’s important to consider how to keep integrating this technology to facilitate connections between those working onsite and those working remotely. Making video calls a staple in your organization for most or all collaborative sessions is a great way to foster an environment that is inclusive to all its employees. Pro-tip: Try to use the same virtual meeting tools across the organization to avoid unnecessary confusion and frustration. And, consider implementing a video-call first standard, where every meeting includes virtual options, and every participant dials into the same meeting, regardless of whether they’re participating onsite or remotely.
If you’re already using video calls to facilitate communications between teams, consider including captions to these virtual conversations as an add-on. One great benefit of captioning is that it increases accessibility as it allows visually-impaired workers and/or employees with auditory disabilities to fully participate in virtual group conversations, sometimes even to a better extent than they would live conversations! (Another plus for putting a video calling standard in place for every team meeting, as noted above!)
5. Virtual & Hybrid Events
Now that virtual events have been widely adopted, it’s important to keep these options going forward so that you can offer equity and access to remote and hybrid teams. The key is accessibility and inclusion, and technology makes it easier for everyone to join in on conversations and important company events like employee onboarding, town halls, benefits fairs, ERG conversations, professional development sessions, and more. Virtual event platforms like Brazen’s offer an effective and interactive way to balance the unique needs of employees in a distributed workforce while offering ways to keep the company culture, branding, and spirit alive with each event so the experience is available for everyone to benefit from.
Moving Forward with Accessibility, Opportunity & Equity
Organizations have a lot to gain from a lot of the technology and workforce adaptations they implemented as a direct result of figuring out how to adapt during the pandemic, such as the higher usage of virtual communication technology and the adoption of remote or hybrid work. From economic gains to psychological ones relating to the inclusiveness and levels of equity within an organization, there are many benefits to considering what pandemic necessities could actually improve the way your teams work going forward. Now is the time to reflect on how you can improve employee wellbeing, satisfaction, and productivity by continuing to invest time and resources in maintaining and further developing these enhancements.
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