Coronavirus (COVID-19), HR Management & Compliance

COVID-19 Has Changed Work Forever—But What Does This Really Mean for Our Workforce?

When shelter-in-place and social distancing orders were first made in March, remote working became a reality for over 80% of U.S. organizations. Millions of workers were forced to work from home for the first time, transforming their personal spaces into offices overnight. Our way of working will never return to what it was before COVID-19, and it’s up to today’s business leaders to build the workforce of the future and ensure that no matter where an employee is, culture remains at the forefront.

COVID-19

Source: Rido / Shutterstock

Business leaders must address the top two pain points for remote work: loneliness and stress. Being aware of these pain points can help ensure people feel connected.

Here are three steps business leaders can take to prioritize mental health, positive culture, and productivity.

1. Turn Remote Work from a Negative into a Positive

COVID-19 has revealed that working from home is possible across many industries and job positions. With that, working from home should now be considered a right, not a privilege or an exception, which is how it was viewed by many pre-COVID-19.

Parents will have increased flexibility when it comes to child care, and commuters will save time and money, averaging 10 extra hours a week of productivity. Instead, we can accomplish responsibilities on our terms and work collaboratively without depending on geographical restrictions.

The next step after accepting remote work as a right is giving employees the flexibility needed to work against goals and objectives versus time. This includes encouraging employees to communicate when they might be unavailable to their teams or need time to get some fresh air, run an errand, or take a workout break.

2. Prepare and Mitigate Remote Work Challenges

A culture of just getting work done is no longer sustainable. The key is to help people reconnect and function as a community through collaborative virtual work. Today, over 88% of organizations have their employees working remotely due to COVID-19—a 20% increase from 2019. And 77% of people who’ve transitioned to remote working would like to remain in a remote capacity.

In 2019, 30% of office workers self-reported depression compared with 56% of remote workers. Additionally, 60% of freelancers reported work-related loneliness. We need to combat major work-from-home pain points head-on and create a safe space for employees to communicate these issues.

3. Create New Processes and Ways to Work

Developing a thriving remote work culture rests heavily on the technology we develop to resolve loneliness and isolation issues. We have already gone through many technological advancements, from cloud migration to streaming services to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. COVID-19 is introducing the opportunity for companies to experiment and develop new technologies that simulate the same in-person experience for team communicating and brainstorming.

Remote work isn’t just a short-term solution; it’s a test for the long term. To navigate remote work successfully, we must work together to create an open and a communicative environment to balance work life from home, identify the intangible issues of remote work, and share the technologies that allow people to collaborate effectively. The future of remote work will be different from what we are used to, and that’s OK.

Peter Jackson is the CEO of Bluescape, a secure visual collaboration platform used by teams across more than a dozen leading movie studios to collaborate and complete many of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster movies since 2016. Jackson is a serial entrepreneur and advisor with a broad and deep knowledge of technology, business, and financial markets.

Before Bluescape, Peter cofounded Ziploop Inc. (acquired by SNIPP in October 2017); served on the Boards of Eventbrite, DocuSign, and Kanjoya; took Intraware to IPO; and was President/COO of Dataflex following its acquisition of Granite Systems, among other achievements. Follow Jackson and Bluescape on Twitter, at @phjackson5 and @bluescaper, respectively.