In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely has become the new normal for many Americans. A wealth of technology has been developed and improved to increase working from home productivity and to ensure employees have the resources they need to do their jobs from home. And many aren’t feeling ready to return just yet. The pandemic is still infecting hundreds a day and many have fallen into a comfortable routine working from home.
Working From Home Productivity in 2020
In many cases, people have felt that working from home made them into more productive employees. In a survey taken of over 2,500 respondents, 51% felt that they have been more productive in a work from home environment than they had been in an office environment.
This is pretty astounding considering all of the added stressors that come with working from home as well as the pandemic. Finding suitable childcare while schools were closed caused complications for parents, the blurry lines between work and home could make concentrating difficult, and not everyone has a home environment suited for an office. Despite all this, productivity increased.
Some of these stressors will naturally dissipate as the pandemic gets under control. Schools and daycares opening back up will mean parents will have somewhere to send their children during the work day. And quiet work spaces like libraries and cafes will be open again for public use. This will help increase work from home productivity further.
How Technology Has Allowed People to Work From Home
Covid-19 would look very different if we didn’t have ample tech available to us to do our jobs from home. Without the conveniences of mobile devices and the cloud, working from home would be simply inaccessible for many people. These technologies have no doubt saved lives and jobs.
At the center of these useful technologies are communication applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack which provide a plethora of benefits to employees at large. These applications and those alike are not new to the work space however businesses have been leaning more heavily on them than ever before. They allow employees to have interaction with one another through virtual face-to-face meetings, communicate quickly and efficiently through threads, all without the risks of being in the same space. Thus reducing e-mail inbox clutter, encouraging group discussion, and saving time and resources, especially if attending a meeting requires a commute.
Once removed from the office, the need to securely access files and resources became a concern for businesses that did not have a remote work plan in place. Adoption of cloud computing and AI (artificial intelligence) has increased throughout the lockdown because of this. The cloud offers businesses the ability to be extremely flexible and resilient within their infrastructure. AI offered within the cloud provides solutions to business needing more creative options to meet demands; such as intelligent chatbots, digital payments, BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store), telehealth appointments, and interactive education classrooms.
Focus on Compliance and Trust
It’s important to note that these applications, though convenient, come with risks. Data security should be a paramount concern for businesses looking to adopt or continue remote options for their employees. The pandemic accelerated compliance and security issues due to the rapid implementation of cloud-based services.
Businesses should closely examine their own infrastructure to determine what is important to them, what they need to protect, and how educated their employees are for security. It is essential to develop a technology roadmap that includes security awareness training and security policies. Additional investments will likely need to be made in identity and access management securities in order to protect employees and business data from cyber-attacks, however not every step will cost money, but each step will save you money by decreasing the chance of a successful attack.
Benefits of Working From Home
While remote work offers flexibility and freedom for employees, it also has its benefits for employers and businesses, including opportunities to cut costs and generally happier, more productive employees.
Benefits for the Employee
Employees working from home have seen a whole host of benefits. Their schedules can be more flexible, which means that scheduling appointments or shifting work hours to accommodate personal matters are much easier. Parents with children can be there when they get home from school and are more available to participate in their sports and activities.
Employees who work from home can make the space theirs in many cases, increasing their comfort level and, in turn, their productivity. And remote employees often have better mental health, as it is easier to maintain a good work-life balance. And, without a commute, employees spend less time and money on transportation.
Benefits for the Employer
Happy employees are productive employees, and working from home increases job satisfaction among a team. Businesses lose billions of dollars a year to work place distractions, with an in-office employee taking multiple short breaks where-as a remote employee tends to take longer breaks, which have shown to increase focus and productivity. One study has shown remote employees worked 1.4 days more each month compared to in-office productivity, which equated to three additional weeks of work a year, with no difference in the quality of work being produced.
Businesses can save money on space, too since a partial or remote team mean less space and resources need to be provided, and location is not prohibitive. A business can hire the top talent regardless of where they live.
Preparing for the Future of Remote Work
Although there are numerous benefits to working remotely, businesses will still need to set some ground rules when moving to a remote option for their employees. Implementing security policies which address who has access and to what, which devices are allowed to connect to the network, enabling multi-factor authentication, and how to recognize cybercriminal tactics is vital. We cannot stress enough the importance of having an educated staff to be successful at securely working remote.