How did businesses readjust themselves to a remote model? What can a company do to better organize a distributed team? And most importantly, what changes to anticipate in the future?
Any crisis is a source of opportunities. When that world-shattering virus came and changed our normal pace of life, some spheres slowed down, while others accelerated. For example, such as automation, e-commerce, and most importantly, remote practices.
Working from home offices is not entirely new. It has been with us for a while. It just wasn’t that widespread, until COVID-19 brought about official restrictions and left the majority no choice. Luckily, the IT sphere has been the least affected, and most companies managed to reshape their workflows. Scroll down to learn what tools helped them better tackle the challenge, as well as what approaches and new ideas they used to succeed.
Surviving The Crisis Digital transformation doesn't come easy, especially when it’s forced by such extreme circumstances. Businesses had to explore new instruments, try new approaches, and make the best of the situation. This is how they’ve nailed it:
Tools Managing a team online is a hard task. Managers had to add extra 2-4 hours a day monitoring workflows and setting deadlines. Of course, most businesses learned the power of automation that comes with smart tools. The following instruments facilitated the digital shift the most:
The transition to remote practices is impossible without such software. Private face-to-face video chats and general meetings build a healthy environment, boost new ideas, and make ties between crew members stronger. This market is expected to grow to $9.7 billion in 2022, and leaders are such solutions as:
- Zoom (over 300 million daily users) - Google Meet (over 100 million daily users) - Skype (about 40 million daily users)
According to a big survey by HubStaff, 34% of managers experience trouble checking on the progress of team members remotely. It’s unclear what task they are doing, what their schedule is, and whether they are hitting their targets. With online management tools, everything gets transparent. The leading solutions in 2022 are:
- Trello (50 million registered users) - Asana (over 107 000 paying customers in the second quarter of 2021) - Zoho Projects (over 60 million users globally)
A survey by Hive proves that the majority of employees use real-time messaging apps to keep in contact with colleagues (61%). The best corporate choices in 2022 are:
- Slack (used by over 135 000 companies) - Microsoft Teams (with over 270 million users per month) - Discord (with over 150 million monthly active users)
Some businesses also prefer to track their employees’ time with such apps as TimeDoctor, HubStaff, and TopTracker. Their functionality is vast, from monitoring working hours to assigning projects and reminding about deadlines. But some managers are strongly opposed to disturbing others’ privacy and checking their colleagues’ screens. Nevertheless, it’s a great opportunity to see what stage the project is at. To make it effective, it should not be used as a horsewhip to stress people out.
Approaches Companies with bigger budgets and complicated inner structures preferred to hire professionals to help them build remote interactions and workflows. Most, however, did everything on their own, making mistakes and learning from them.
Luckily, now there are a lot of free and useful guides that help businesses go the right way. If you’re only about to dive into a remote world, we recommend Zapier materials: this workflow automation platform did a great job answering every question related to the topic. For example, it has valuable tips on how to organize teamwork online. Here are some ideas to mind:
Use video chats, apps, and whiteboards for effective brainstorming
Introduce small talks to make working conversations less tense
Give regular feedback to employees to encourage or correct them
A New Tendency At the peak of COVID-19, most workforces were locked at home. Some had unplanned vacations, others could work remotely. But when the restrictions were loosened a bit, some businesses came up with an idea of a hybrid schedule.
It’s a combination of remote and work-at-home life: employees come to the office only several times a week. It’s an elegant compromise for those who enjoyed staying at home and those who couldn’t stand it.
Big companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Intel have already chosen to keep such a schedule on a permanent basis. They don’t do this to cut expenses or gain any other financial benefit (for example, spending less money on renting office space). Instead, they found out that it provides a better work-life balance and increases productivity. This statement is backed by a survey, which involved 4 000 business and HR leaders. About 57% of respondents registered a significant productivity boost compared to the previous year. Over 63% of fast-growing businesses have already adopted a hybrid workforce model: it works.
Making Remote Practices Easier For Your Crew
If you have employees working online, there are some things you can do to make their efforts more efficient:
1) Create a digital working environment. Choose what platforms and apps will unite everyone. The market is huge: there are lots of options for different spheres, team sizes, and needs.
2) Make sure that everyone is technically prepared for remote collaboration and communication. If your budget allows it, sponsor such things as webcams and headsets for better web conferencing experiences.
3) Prepare guidelines on how to use remote tools (software and equipment) efficiently if it’s necessary. You can work them out yourself or find ready-made instructions. Offer educational YouTube videos and never leave employees alone if they have tech-related issues. Ask for feedback: your priority should be user satisfaction, not only user adoption.
4) Meet regularly. Encourage routine 1:1 meetings, department brainstorming, work-related and entertaining events.
5) Offer co-working opportunities. Concentrate your remote crew members in special hubs if they have problems operating from home or just crave face-to-face communication.
Work Of Our Future: Predictions
Our world has been experiencing lots of global shifts recently. Businesses respond to them and find new ways to benefit from any challenging situation. This leads to further changes, some of which are right at the doorstep: ready to become the "new normal". These are three solid predictions for the nearest future:
4-Day Week Will Be More Popular A long-lasting experiment held in Iceland (2015-2019) has proven the benefits of fewer working days a week. 2 500 people started to work fewer hours for the same salary. The results were impressive: reduced stress, improved productivity and job satisfaction. The same trials are conducted in Belgium, the UK, Germany, and other countries.
The Rise of Hybrid Offices Will Continue About 74% of US companies already use this model or are planning to. The same trend is true in other countries as well. For employees, splitting hours between home and office seems even more attractive than working completely remotely (32% vs 59% of respondents).
Tools for Remote Work Will Keep Getting Better Big market players have already created efficient online tools to connect crew members from any part of the world. For example, take all the cloud-based, project management, and web conferencing tools offered by Google. We’ll definitely see it grow into a better-tuned ecosystem, with even more convenient instruments to use for businesses and workers. Big names like Google, Cisco, Asana, Atlassian, and Salesforce will keep investing in their products, while new startups will also offer promising projects.
We hope this article will help you build better remote work processes. If you’re only planning to introduce work-from-home elements, search for talents with us. We have broad experience in finding IT specialists for remote or office work. Check out how we’ve found several QA testers or a Director of Information Security on the first try. Contact us for any information at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’ll be happy to answer any questions!
*Have a look at the second part of this article, in which we explore the pros and cons of home-based work for businesses and employees, as well as analyze their attitudes towards such a model.