The workplace has shifted online for a number of professionals around the work. In a Washington Post article, David Ignatius stated there’s no question that we’ll be living in a different world post-pandemic.” He writes that more than half of Americans “believe their lives will remain changed in major ways.”
Working remotely used to be the dream of people that wanted to travel while maintaining their careers. The shift happened much quicker than expected with McKinsey & Co. stating that private companies made the change 40 times faster than predicted. Estimates have stated that workplaces have gone 3 to 4 years into the future due to the pandemic.
Government is Changing Too
The private sector made the change but so have many local and federal government bodies. The new normal made a number of services available online that the government had been hesitant to optimize. Everything from driver’s tests to court hearings has shifted online. Telemedicine also saw an improvement in how virtual visits were billed when compared to physical visits. These were said to be temporary but the convenience and streamlined processes have been a welcomed change.
The government was surprised by the increase in productivity where remote work was implemented. The vice chief of staff for the US Air Force was quoted saying,”it’s changed the paradigm on how we’re going to do work” and that he envisions one-third of its workforce remaining in a distance work arrangement after the pandemic subsidies.
The adoption of remote work on a mass scale opened people’s minds in the private and government sectors. While it might have made certain employees uncomfortable, the speed at which people adjusted was remarkable.
Changes in Where Work is Done
The shift in mindsets over the last year has been incredible. This came out of need as people lucky enough to stay employed could have worked harder from home. Motivation has been an issue for some while others simply needed to establish a home office to optimize productivity. The implementation of Zoom calls that took over physical meetings has been done in business and personally when people needed outside human contact. A number of people thought that COVID-19 would inconvenience businesses for a few months before life and work returned to normal. With surges throughout the US, the end of the pandemic seems to be unknown even with promising vaccines being deployed.
Certain companies and industries, for example forex jobs and others that work in technology, have been using remote work as a perk for nearly a decade. With smartphones, there is a seamless transition and ease of contact if a manager needs to speak to an employee. Most estimated that it would take years for a majority of the country to make the shift. The shift was made out of necessity as employees can do a quality job from the comfort of home. There are so many tools available that can track employee productivity and even take screenshots of their computers. Remote work was once seen as family-friendly as an employee could take care of a young child and get the work they needed to be done from home.
How Management Has Changed
There is a misconception that a manager cannot do their job without seeing employees physically. Personal management has changed as well; as it can be easy to get distracted without a manager looking over your shoulder. There are a number of tips available online that can help motivate and manage remote employees. Personal autonomy has increased and job satisfaction is staying at healthy levels. Work-life balance can be tough however as employees might feel they should be working instead of enjoying time with their family.
Workplace guru Glenn Dirks states,”the more you go ‘virtual,’ the more the quality of management matters.” Goals have to be clearly stated for employees as it can be easy to get sidetracked by something you might have fallen behind on; even for things like business insurance quotes that might be important but not critical to operations. Managers have to learn to manage remote employees differently as non-verbal communication is not an option at this point.
There will be jobs that will never be done remotely like that of first responders or emergency medical care; most of whom are also required to wear the n95 mask commonly associated with the medical field. Most government work can be done remotely as the shift has been made and government leaders have adjusted to remote work.
Challenges That Still Exist
Challenges that are present are that of cybersecurity as some employees could be using personal devices. Creating relationships is also a challenge as this can be difficult remotely. Building rapport with a manager has changed since the shift to remote work started. With the immense amount of adjustment that has already taken place, these challenges will be solved with more time and experience working remotely. The workplace might have changed forever, and for many, this is a welcomed change.