Last week, IBM released the results of a study it conducted about how American's views are changing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are too many interesting takeaways to possibly write about all of them, but I did want to touch on one thing that stuck out.
American's aren't going to be interested in going back to work. At least, they aren't necessarily excited about going back to work in an office. According to the survey, 54 percent of Americans want to keep remote work as their primary mode of work, and 70 percent say they'd like it to at least be an option.
I've been working remotely for years, and I enjoy it, but that stat is staggering to me. Is your business ready for this to be a long-term way of work, as opposed to a temporary solution to a short-term challenge? Those are, after all, two very different things, and they require different approaches.
Companies didn't get much time to prepare for their entire workforce to suddenly work remotely, but it isn't too late to start thinking about what it might mean for work from home to continue long after the current pandemic is over.
Here are three questions to ask yourself to ensure you're ready to provide the best work environment for your team.
How do we measure productivity?
The first, and biggest shift is in how we think about work and how we measure productivity. There is no question that working remotely is different than working in an office--it just is. And that difference isn't just about having an office in your home, or working from your bedroom. There's a fundamental difference in how you should approach work, especially when it comes to measuring productivity.
I generally encourage companies to think in terms of measuring outcomes, instead of activities. That's actually a good idea even if you aren't leading a remote organization, but it's especially true when you aren't able to walk past a desk and actually see what someone is working on.
What systems do we need in place?
After you've decided what "work looks like," the next step is to figure out how to support that work. In many cases that means redefining roles to better match actual work, and streamlining systems for onboarding, training, and accountability.
It also means that your people policies should take into account that remote work situations are very different. For example, how will you account for working hours? Do you still expect people to be available at specific times? Those are important things to consider before you are at a point where people are acting on their assumptions.
What tools does our team need?
Finally, decide which tools your team needs to be productive. Over the past few months, many people working from home are using their own devices. While that works in many cases, it may not be the best solution long-term. What happens when an employee's laptop dies? That's something you have to figure out before it becomes an issue.
This also includes the software and technology to help your team stay connected and engaged. I've written plenty about the different communication and collaboration tools that can help remote teams. You've probably been using some, even if you hoped they were a temporary solution. It's time to build your stack, which should include everything from team communication tools, project management, and video conferencing.
All of that might still seem overwhelming, and honestly, that's normal. This is new for millions of Americans, which means it's okay not to have it entirely figured out yet. On the other hand, it's probably worth doing the hard work now, since according to your team, they may not be as excited as you are to get back to the office.