Perspectives on Remote Working in the Age of COVID

How much can we talk about “unprecedented” or “unusual” times? For more than six months now, all of us have had to make changes to our daily routines. For some, this has included becoming part-time teacher, IT “expert” and meeting production coordinator. Just a few short months ago, we used video conferencing mainly for personal chats, rarely for business. Now, we’re all proficient in Zoom, Teams and a host of other platforms. Making a phone call is so 2019.

We’ve changed where we work and how we work, but work continues. Early reports indicated a loss of productivity, with employees working longer hours from home. Because they could. Everyone was unsettled, adjusting to the new conditions. Impromptu coaching and check-ins didn’t occur. We were all too busy with our scheduled video meetings. But as folks adjusted both mentally and physically, things started moving forward. Because we had to get things done!

So where are we now? A number of businesses have reopened offices – with appropriate social distancing measures, of course – while others have announced extended work-from-home dates, some through the third quarter of 2021. It’s hard to find conclusive overall data, so here are some unscientific observations:

  1. We’ve created new routines and processes. Some were long overdue.
  2. We’re “getting back to business” – moving from maintaining through the pandemic to addressing business issues and opportunities NOT related to COVID.
  3. Across organizations, there’s increased communication. Making sure we communicate effectively is an ongoing challenge.
  4. People are looking for new ways to develop new business beyond traditional sales calls.

We’re more connected than ever, yet we miss the human connections. Will we ever go back to working in centralized work environments? My bet is yes. 2D is not as good as 3D. Some of us, though, really enjoy our short commute. The thought of rush-hour traffic that was previously just an annoyance now seems intolerable. But while remote work may be here to stay, I suspect we’ll eventually band together in our offices again in some capacity. After all, humans are social beings. 

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