COVID-19 caught the world off guard during the opening months of 2020. There has been a scramble by businesses to adapt to changes and take steps to build resiliency moving forward.
At the heart of these changes is expanding and promoting virtual work capabilities. Doing this means taking advantage of the best practices and the best tools for improved collaboration, productivity, and the continuity of culture.
Many individuals and teams have had to take on new roles and expanded leadership to ensure success. Organizations reluctant to embrace expanding technologies have had to make an abrupt shift as these new technologies, or technologies new to the organization, are the foundation of virtual collaboration.
An example of this is VPN technology. Many organizations use VPNs in a limited way. Now that their workforce works primarily from home, they have had to adapt to the use of VPNs as a measure to successfully safeguard their data while allowing their employees to have the same access to their organization’s network that they had before. Only by taking the proper steps can organizations create the organizational resilience necessary to maintain business operations at an optimal level while functioning virtually.
But most of the time that’s not the case. Many companies as well as their employees weren’t ready for the work from home environment. Securing employees’ devices while working from home has been a major issue, making them one of the easiest targets for cyberattacks. According to the IBM report, 76% of remote workers say working from home would increase the time to identify and contain a breach.
While a data breach is a kind of threat that could potentially damage a company permanently, it’s not something that should be taken lightly. Companies must invest in their cybersecurity infrastructure and educate their employees on how to secure their devices while working from home. That means that some cybersecurity measures like creating strong passwords, locking devices properly, using a highly encrypted VPN service, installing a reputable antivirus software, and so on, must be a part of employees’ standard practice.
How The Pandemic Made The Future Come Sooner
Most organizations realized that the future of business was work from home. They realized that they were going to need to integrate work from home technologies and practices into their organization if they were going to remain viable.
However, prior to March 2020, it seemed like companies had time to slowly transition into what would be the future reality. However, the pandemic brought the future sooner than most had expected. Organizations that were already embracing forward-thinking principles with their work, their workforce, and their workplace found it easier to transition to the post COVID-19 world. Others have struggled to catch up.
Resiliency means embracing the role of machine learning and artificial intelligence. We live in a digital world. There are some things that machines can do better and faster than humans. This does not mean that machines replace humans, but a resilient organization will understand the role that humans and machines play and will create an environment that will allow both to work as a team or independently to do what they do best.
Part of this means revisiting the idea that work needs to be performed in a set location or a set place. When possible, steps must be taken to digitize some or all the work using cloud technology, the Internet of things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and advanced robotics.
We will always need humans. However, the role of humans is becoming that of innovation, creativity, and solving problems that machines can never tackle.
Embracing Remote Work And Building Resilience In The Workforce
An interesting and unexpected side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that areas that used to be considered prime real estate are now experiencing vacancies for the first time in decades. This is because as work becomes digitized and people can work remotely, many are opting to move to places that are less expensive and closer to the people and things they care about.
Embracing remote work will mean that organizations will need to reevaluate how they identify their ideal workforce. The goal must be to attract and engage with individuals who have the experience, skills, and determination to help the organization achieve its purpose and mission. This means recruiting outside of geographic boundaries.
Most countries have regulations that dictate when and how businesses can hire foreigners. It is unlikely that these regulations will disappear soon. However, a business in New York could now entertain the hiring of employees living in Minnesota, Oklahoma, California, Hawaii, and any of the other 50 states. Since the work is done remotely, people will not need to physically move to be a part of the team.
Communication is at the heart of this new work environment. Workers need to interact with each other and with key stakeholders regardless of where they live in the world. Forward thinking organizations will embrace communications technology to make life easier for themselves and their employees.
Embracing Remote Work And Building Resilience In The Workplace
Of course, no one is saying that the physical work environment will disappear anytime soon. It is more likely that there will be a mix of physical and virtual environments.
The challenge moving forward will be to create a consistent employer identity that embraces physically present and remote employees. This identity will need to extend to contractors and stakeholders.
The goal has always been to help people perform their best. Remote work means that workplace hours and business hours may need to be adjusted to reflect the personal circumstances of each employee. This will require employers to have an agile mindset. Doing things as they have always been done seems to be less of an asset and more of a liability.
In the mixture of virtual and physical workplaces, collaboration platforms, and tools designed to facilitate dynamic work locations and asynchronous collaboration are major keys. Adaptability is now and will probably continue to be more important than procedure.
What Remote Work And Virtual Work Will Mean For Individuals
Success depends on each individual understanding what remote work will mean for them. They must train employees to communicate often using the tools provided by their employer. Self-sufficiency and work efficiency are going to be prized qualities in work from home employees.
Working efficiently means designating areas of the home specifically for work and creating a routine that works best with their schedule. In the same way that organizations must embrace technology, employees must use technology for virtual conference meetings and collaborating in virtual workspaces. Good old-fashioned phone communication is going to play a role.
Resiliency has always meant adaptability and flexibility. We are seeing the value of those qualities now and will probably continue to see their importance as the world keeps adapting to the changes that have led to a work from home environment.
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