Work From Home: Where Is it Heading?

April 8, 2020 12 Min Read

The world is changing. While this may sound like a line out of a dystopian novel, the current events have accelerated a number of global transformations that were only simmering a few months ago. The exploding adoption of work from home (WFH) is one of them. 🤖

In this article, we take a closer at the possible impact of COVID-19 situation on the remote work environment. We also analyze some of the challenges (and possible solutions) employers and employees will encounter along the way.

👥 4 Aspects of the Work From Home Transformation

In the age of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, many employees have found themselves in a peculiar situation. Forced out of their cubicles, they’re now told to jump on virtual meetups, use collaboration tools and manage their own time.

While this situation won’t last forever, it’s bound to leave a mark on the way we *think* about work in general.

But can we predict how the global workforce will look like once the lockdown is over? Will we stick with remote work for longer or go back to business as usual?

1) Work From Home Won’t Be Optional Anymore

Let’s make one thing clear: WFH is nothing new. We’ve been talking about the future of work being remote for a while now. Flexible schedules, no commuting, extra time with the family…no wonder employees love it.

But for many employers, it used to be a no-go. After all, who in their right mind would let employees *supervise* themselves? And let’s not forget about all those office spaces that would stay vacant if everybody went remote.

But now that distributed teams are being established by necessity…

Let’s just say companies will have fewer excuses to bar WFH once COVID-19 is contained. Sure, the current processes have been created ad hoc and are far from perfect. But there’ll be plenty of time to improve and introduce proper telecommuting workflows once the economy stabilizes.

2) Multitasking Will Be a Skill to Learn

Anyone who’s worked from home for even a day knows this: It’s not an easy environment to get work done.

  • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧 You have little kids running around
  • 🍕 The “call of the afternoon snacks” is hard to resist
  • 🐕 It’s always your turn to walk the dog
  • 💤 The opportunities for procrastination are everywhere

On top of that, during traditional 9-5 workdays, you have only so much time carved out for breaks. But when you work from home, there’s no strict schedule that would keep you glued to the desk.

Many “fresh” telecommuters haven’t had the chance to build the right habits and are more susceptible to procrastination. They take little breaks here and there, juggle household chores and work duties and try to keep a shred of work-life balance while doing so.

Whether we like it or not, multitasking is back and it will be the key skill to learn when signing up for remote job opportunities.

3) Remote Collaboration Will Grow Big

Longing for lazy afternoons in an air-conditioned conference room? Think again. With social distancing in full swing, social life won’t go back to normal anytime soon. Yes, that means no watercooler chit-chats, at least for now.

But there’s also good news. As we’re physically separated, technology comes to the rescue. With the rise of remote collaboration tools, we have an invaluable opportunity to make the world more connected than ever before.

A few months back, many employees believed remote collaboration was still a song of the future. Now it’s become the new norm. Perhaps this mindset will grow past the pandemic and tip the scale in favor of true telecommuting even further.

4) Sustainability Efforts Will Gain Traction

Let’s be honest: The concept of sustainability has been reduced to a mere buzzword. It’s often more important for companies to seem sustainable than to change their business practices in a meaningful way.

But now, due to the work-from-home exodus, companies going 100% remote are contributing to environmental efforts without even trying. Want to know how? Read our article “How Remote Work Can Impact Our Fight Against Climate Change 🌳” to find out.

tl;dr At the most basic level, fewer on-site workers mean fewer miles traveled, which translates to a significant decrease in the production of greenhouse gases. And that’s just a start. The hypothetical calculations from a few weeks ago are becoming a reality.

😫 WFH and the Challenges of the Corporate Culture

Yes, the COVID-19 situation has accelerated the adoption of telecommuting. But before we all cry “Hurrah!” and fully embrace work from home, it’s important to understand the challenges that come with it.

🌟 The (Somewhat) Hidden Importance of Corporate and Team Culture

Although the concept of “corporate culture” rubs many people the wrong way, it *does* serve a purpose in the modern work environment.

  • 📈 According to a Gallup study, workplace culture fosters employee engagement, which in turn can boost profitability by 21%
  • 🚨 A 2015 survey of 1,300 CEOs and CFOs found that more than 90% believe corporate culture is important at their companies

Here’s the problem, though: Many of these benefits are not immediately obvious or even measurable. You can foster corporate and team culture, but there’s no KPI that would give you feedback on your efforts.

The major challenge here is that many of the best practices related to building culture require in-person interactions. Some employees may find it difficult to feel engaged and on the same page with the team when the only time they see their co-workers is during video conferences.

🤔 Building Culture in a Remote Work Environment

So, is building team culture in a remote setup difficult? Sure. But even when your team is fully distributed, it’s still doable. All you need to do is focus on a few key mechanisms:

Make these mechanisms a key element of your business strategy going forward. Just don’t expect overnight results. Building a digital team culture is more of a marathon than a sprint and takes time to get traction.

💻 Use Remote Collaboration Tools to Close the Gap

Although it’s been over a month since WFH became a global phenomenon, many companies are still trying to preserve their regular, on-site workflows. Handling paper documentation, relying on texts and phone calls…anything to keep the “old” ways alive.

But long-term, that approach isn’t sustainable. The way we work *has changed*, and while some of us may bounce back into commuting and regular office hours, others are likely to hang on to remote work for longer.

This leads us to digital communication tools. It’s impossible to think about the changing work environment and overlook the tools that made the transformation possible. That’s why video-conferencing software, live chats and remote collab tools are gaining so much traction right now.

Here’s what you’re going to need.

WFH Essential Toolbox

  • 📱 Real-time collaboration. Forget about using several tools to get work done. Modern productivity apps (wink wink, nudge nudge Taskade 🐑) will let your team manage projects, share files and communicate without friction
  • 🌍 Scheduling across time-zones. If you’ve never managed a team across time zones, it may be tricky to naturally adjust to time differences. You may want to use tools like Calendly, Every Time Zone or…Google Calendar to keep everything in check
  • 🛡 Digital Security. Is your team up to date with cybersecurity best practices? Although you can take their word for it, a much better approach is to roll out a digital security policy. At the very least, make sure everybody’s using a VPN and a password manager

💡 The Future Present of Work From Home is Bright

The future of work that seemed like a sci-fi movie a few months back is already here. In defiance of all the nay-sayers, work from home has not only become an ad hoc, emergency solution but a viable replacement to redundant and inefficient 9-5s.

The question is, are you prepared to embrace it?

On the off chance that you need some help getting started, jump over 👉🏻 here to sign up for a free Taskade account. Whether you want to manage projects, tackle to-dos or just chat with your team, we have your back. No strings attached. 🐑