The Shift to Remote Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The global pandemic has forced companies to allow their employees to work remotely over the past few months. Some have thrived in a remote environment while others have faced challenges. As states begin to slowly loosen restrictions, the question becomes, “do we go back to how things were before?” Do we keep people remote?  Is there a hybrid model?

Moving Forward

With many tech companies like Facebook and Twitter announcing they will allow some of their workforce to continue remote working permanently, it will be interesting to see how other companies choose to move forward. Tech savvy companies have the tools which allow employees to work from home. Many employees of such companies are not interacting with clients. But what about service companies? How do you provide great customer service in a remote setting? How are sales professionals going to provide a personal touch if everything is over video calls? Is it possible to have both? And what do the employees want? Do they want to go back to the office?

A Hybrid Approach

While some companies are evaluating and either-or approach, still others are considering having a hybrid approach, where employees are able to work remote under certain conditions. For example, employees who have demonstrated competence in their duties and shown acceptable levels of performance.  Even then, a critical factor is ensuring working remote is not viewed as a reward, where working in the office is a punishment.  Finding a solution offering balance and options where employees who may thrive remote are able to do so will offer a huge increase in the available talent pool.

Things to Consider About Remote Work

Other considerations for remote workers is unreliable bandwidth in homes, which can impact customer interactions if calls are interrupted and servers can’t be accessed.  Additionally, new tools and business intelligence capabilities may be required for a whole new level of performance monitoring.  And having a cadence of meetings or other informal communications to keep people connected will be paramount.

And last but not least, evaluating people who have both an interest and ability to excel in a remote environment will begin to impact talent acquisition organizations worldwide.\

According to a Wall Street Journal article, in the past month, LinkedIn recorded a 28% increase in remote job postings and a 42% increase in searches using the terms “remote” or “work from home”. This could be due to high unemployment where individuals are looking for jobs in other cities, or it could be employees have grown to enjoy the flexibility of working from home.

Over the next few months, we will start to see how companies evolve and embrace change. It is unlikely we will return to how we conducted business 3-months ago, but we also will not likely see 100% remote work forces. In the weeks and months to come, it will be a balancing act, and an interesting trend to witness.

How is your company viewing working from home? As an employee, have you liked remote work or do you find yourself eager to get back into the office? We want to hear your stories.