If you would have told me 6 months ago that a large proportion of the Western World would be working remotely and making a success of this, I would have laughed at you.
In fact, I think that there’s a percentage of people who still do not think that this is an effective move for the economy/ working practices. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been talking to peers and doing some research for the some of the positive aspects that we can bring from this pandemic and what might be a game changer for organisations moving forward. Please note, that I do not want to minimise the devastating effects of this disease on the world, nor do I try to belittle what a massive change this is for organisations.
Reduced Travel time vs. Efficient working
Reduced travel has not only given our environment some breathing space that it desperately needs to recover, but has also meant that people are now enjoying having more time in their day for their families, sports and other wellbeing activities. During my interviews, the one predominating thing that came out of it was: “I’m not sure how I’m going to go back to my commute when I am so much more effective working from home!”.
Lisa W: ” I have never worked from home because our organisation did not support it. Since moving to working from home, not only am I more efficient with my time as I am not constantly interrupted but I have three more hours a day to do sport. This pandemic has brought me from the brink of burn out to normality”.
Virtual Communication / Collaboration
Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Messenger, Webex and Skype for Business. Never before have virtual conferencing platforms been so demanded or used by the working population. It’s been really interesting to see how many people are learning these different softwares and using them not only for business use but also for private parties.
I am part of a virtual running group and we have been meeting up on Webex for our ‘virtual drinks’ and coming together to support each other. These are people that I would see two or three times and year and we are now meeting once a month to touch base and share stories or our day.
Collaboration tools have really shown organisations that although physical presence has its advantages, it does not necessarily need to be mandatory.
William K said: “Before last month I had never used Microsoft Teams really. Now, I am using it every day and it’s become integral to keeping in touch with my teams and making progress on my projects. I would not want to work without it”.
Reliance on IT Infrastructure
Several high profile organisations in the UK decided to run trials before allowing their entire workforce to work remotely to see if their infrastructure could hold up to the increased usage and consequences on speed/licenses etc. I really hope that one consequence of this exercise will be that IT Infrastructure is no longer considered as an after thought but as an integral part of project and organisations success.
Bart K said: “Our company did two trial days with different locations and teams and we really tried to break our network to see if it could handle the load. Luckily, I was able to support users logging in for the first time remotely and we’ve been handling a lot more remote support calls which has definitely added complexity and workload to our list”.
Business Continuity / Risk Management
When hosting workshops, I often quote the “Act of God” that is usually put as a red herring in all Risk Management Plans. I also say that in my entire career I have only ever seen one Act of God occur during a project but now I think that I’ll be changing that statement! Insurance companies and Business Continuity Departments are running in overdrive to be able to support and work through the output of what this entire pandemic means to organisations, supply chains as well as to the employees themselves. Many governments are stepping in to support companies that need to furlough their staff or keep their teams running in different ways (e.g. alternate shifts etc).
Travel Cost Savings:
Most airlines are offering to change flight bookings free of charge. Many hotels are offering free cancellations on bookings. Whilst it is not advisable to travel, it also offers organisations the cost saving of not having their staff in the air/travelling. Travelling costs the organisation in not only employee time spent on the road but also money in air/rail/car costs.
Yannick T said: Normally, I would spent roughly $5,000 a month on travelling and travel expenses. As a result of the travel ban to the USA, I am now not travelling and saving my company these additional costs. We are not likely to lose any business as a result of this so it’s a win-win all round!
As of today, we do not know how long this will last for but whilst we are all learning how to adapt and excel in these new working conditions, we can look at opportunities to improve and adapt for our projects, careers and organisations.
What positive things have you seen as a result of the pandemic? Is it giving you better work/life balance?