Most business owners will have entered the coronavirus lockdown and the new age of remote working with more than a hint of trepidation. For years industries have weighed up the potential for working from home and pondered whether more job roles could be sustained away from the conventional office.
As the nation appears to be moving further away from the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic, we’ve delved deeper to understand the innovations that businesses have adopted during lockdown and how these changes could optimise the way industries operate for years to come.
Embedding all employees in the same communication channels
The reality is that remote working actually helps some businesses be better connected than if they were all physically in an open-plan office. IT security firm, Digital Interruption revealed that their teams working remotely were able to be “embedded in the same communication channels” more easily, says co-founder, Saskia Coplans. Some workers struggle with the lack of privacy that an open-plan office brings, resulting in introverted workers going into their shells. Remote communication channels make it easier for workers to liaise with one another on a level that suits everyone.
Onboarding new starters with ‘buddy systems’
Although recruitment may have dried up in some industries due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis, those businesses that have taken on new staff have had to be creative to onboard new starters. GuyKat, a custom eLearning platform, has devised new ‘buddy systems’ and ‘mentor systems’. The rule of thumb is that the mentor should be at least one level above the mentee, while the buddy should ideally work at the same level as the new starter. This encourages new starters to be proactive when reaching out for support.
Fostering a sense of play in the workplace despite being apart
The COVID-19 lockdown has wreaked havoc with the events and hospitality sectors. London-based PopUp Business School, which educates fledgeling entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses, has been forced to move their events exclusively online. However, as normality slowly returns, the school’s founder Simon Paine has sought to create new ways of encouraging play and socialising in the workplace, despite colleagues never being so far apart. The introduction of online games to decide which person chairs the next company meeting and so forth help to bolster morale.
Take a leaf out of the book of Dutch employers who offer budgets for home working setups
The coronavirus lockdown had the least effect on workers in the Netherlands, given that over 14% of the Dutch workforce is already remote. If British employers are planning on moving in that direction going forward, they should take a leaf out of tech firm Auth0, which sets aside individual budgets for remote workers to spend on kitting out their home office, ensuring a comfortable and productive working environment.
Will there be a more permanent shift towards remote working even after the epidemic subsides? Quite possibly. Many of the unanswerable questions about the potential for remote working en-masse have now been answered. The nation’s connectivity infrastructure has survived the increased workload and businesses have ensured their IT systems can be accessible and secure to remote workers in any location.
Maintaining such a trend will require work on behalf of businesses to find new ways to foster company culture, but that’s a small price to pay for the green benefits of reduced commuting and meeting costs and a better work-life balance for all.