Sergei Anikin is Chief Technical Officer at Pipedrive, a global sales CRM.
2020 has brought chaos to the world on a scale no one could have imagined, disrupting people’s lives and the global economy. The workplace as we know it has also been put to the test as the shift to mass remote working has swept the globe. How companies respond to the pressures of the pandemic will be remembered moving forward, and those who learned to be agile should be the ones to succeed.
However, with the worst of the lockdown measures behind us (for now), businesses need to strongly evaluate how to stay afloat and be successful going forward. With many teams working remotely, businesses have had to adapt and rethink their ways of working. This mindset should not be temporary, and workplace values need to reflect this.
Gone are the days of routine office hours and the daily commute. People are also drastically reconsidering what is important to them at work as a result of Covid-19 and are expecting a sense of flexibility from their employer when it comes to working hours and styles. Businesses must, therefore, incorporate new processes into their long-term strategies that encompass the flexible new norm that is replacing the 9-to-5 day.
In order for companies to thrive in a post-Covid-19 world, three key things should be kept in mind:
1. Companies need to put the right technology in place to power the new normal.
2. Companies need to increase organizational transparency and get employees directly involved in those changes.
3. Companies need to fully embrace change and increase their agility.
Technology Empowers Flexibility
At the core of having an agile workplace is going digital. With teams working remotely, employees need to feel both a sense of autonomy and strong support from their managers and peers. Physical distance does not need to hinder performance levels if there is a strong level of communication and inclusion. To achieve this, investing in a strong tech infrastructure and modernizing IT systems is imperative.
Archaic communication platforms are insufficient, and an endless stream of phone calls and emails could slow business down. Instant messaging, videoconferencing and workplace collaboration tools can form the trinity of keeping colleagues connected moving forward. It is no longer a case of having a meeting, but rather “jumping on a Zoom call” or collaborating via Slack. As a result, these new norms need to be embedded in the company, whether it’s knowing the deadline to respond to a message or having a standardized agenda for company video calls to keep up the pace of efficiency.
Employees should feel such collaboration tools are making their working day easier and are a good — if not better — alternative to conversations they were previously able to have in person. These technologies are only as effective as the employees who use them. The new digital way of working is here to stay, and businesses should accept this as a permanent way for teams to interact moving forward.
Transparency And Employee Involvement
It might seem like best practice to have senior management bear the brunt of redefining how the new way of work will impact the company, but this needs to be an inclusive, collaborative process involving everyone. If employees are being told about new updates on a weekly call without context or room for deliberation, they could grow to feel one step removed from the wider business. A supportive network that clearly displays a willingness to listen to individual needs can aid performance levels while making staff feel appreciated.
Transparency is key to fostering a more open and inclusive way of working. Without sight of the activity of their colleagues or an overview of how the business is faring, a damaging cohort of different views on how the company is running could start to emerge, and the business structure could begin to crumble. Transparency can be as simple as regular online company surveys that are then fed back to the team or frequent updates on the business’s fiscal status.
Embracing Change And Increasing Agility
These ongoing months apart have naturally caused many people to reassess what they want from their working day. Without the morning commute, set break times and, crucially, a separation between the home and physical office space, businesses must factor these changes into the way they operate and what they expect from individuals. For companies to keep employees engaged, they will need to showcase a willingness to be agile and accept change. Even before the pandemic, the world of work was witnessing a shift toward no longer looking for work-life balance, but rather how a job integrates into people’s lifestyles.
Business success means working toward shared goals and being mission-driven. Now is the time to pause and truly think about the long-term implications Covid-19 may have on staff well-being and to reassess how well the business is doing when it comes to inclusion, collaboration, communication and transparency. If it could be better, is this because the company has not embraced a distributed workforce?
Change is the only constant in the new normal. Businesses need to stop assuming the old ways of work will return and start organizing their staff remotely. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is a global experiment for everyone, but those who have a business continuity plan that embodies the needs and well-being of staff, who in turn feel supported and connected to one another, should enjoy long-term prosperity.
The future of work needs to be flexible. Facebook plans to have at least half its 50,000 employees working from home by 2030. A survey by Microsoft has found that those companies that ensure employees are making extensive use of the right collaboration tools are twice as likely to work better as a team compared to those with no such platforms. Those who put the right technology in place, increase transparency and employee involvement, and stay agile today will be the ones to thrive, not merely survive, the rapidly changing world of tomorrow.
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