The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected the way we look at virtually every aspect of our lives in one way or another. And the way we work is far from an exception. As a society, we learned quickly how to adapt to the “new normal,” especially in the way we do business. That’s because failing to adapt would have led to a failure to survive.
There were 3 main business-related questions that arose from the crisis. They were:
- How to stay connected
- How to find and keep our motivation
- How to be productive in the new environment.
And in every case, the systems we had in place to answer these questions were, at the very least, inadequate to maintain the status quo in the pandemic. And, to be honest, who could’ve predicted the changes that we saw?
But now, a full year into the pandemic, it’s plain to see the way things are shaping up. Based on a joint study done by HubSpot and Canva, we now know that roughly 73% of workers have been working from home for at least the last three months. That’s a shocking number. It’s not just a majority. It’s nearly a 3/4 majority! And what’s more, it’s expected that as many as 48% will continue to work from home after the pandemic has passed. If that doesn’t define a “new normal,” I don’t know what does!
But all of this change has brought about some negative consequences – especially given the short period of time in which it occurred. Right now, roughly half of workers find it more difficult for their teams to make decisions. 72% have faced more difficult planning processes. 70% have found it difficult to deal with feedback without face-to-face interaction. And 66% of workers believe that their teams’ productivity has diminished.
In short, change has come, and it has brought with it plenty of baggage. But with all of this change has come solutions. And these solutions have come in the form of technology. We are now using our office technology in ways we never imagined before. Or, in some cases, we’ve dramatically expanded the scale of existing practices.
But which technological trends are likely to stick around after the crisis has passed? Let’s dive deeper to find out. Here are five relevant observations.
1. Communication and Collaboration Platforms
An increase in outsourcing has led to a rise in dependence on communication and collaboration platforms such as Slack or Zoom. While it’s true that we can no longer pop our heads over the cubicle wall to ask our coworkers questions, the need for that kind of communication is still there. Especially since many of our teammates are now thousands of kilometers away. Consequently, video calling and quick messages, rather than prairie-dogging, have become the new standard for collaborative communication.
2. User Friendly Graphic Design Platforms
With less accessibility to face-time with customers, businesses have been more reliant on visual content for digital marketing than ever before. And this increase in demand for image-based content has resulted in increased reliance on user-friendly graphic design platforms such as Canva.
Older, more complicated systems required a highly trained, skilled person to collaborate in the office with a broader marketing team. But now, both the marketing team and the office have largely disappeared. Instead, a small core of workers is using simpler platforms to create quality visual content for marketing purposes.
3. User-Friendly CMS Platforms
Content management systems are becoming simpler and more user-friendly. In much the same way that visual content demands have changed the nature of graphic design platforms, a need for simpler, more user-friendly content management systems has likewise arisen. Content management now must be handled by fewer people, all of whom work remotely. And that need for remote collaboration amongst fewer workers requires tools to be simpler. Consequently, tools such as HubSpot CMS are becoming more popular.
4. Virtual Social Support
The advent of virtual social events has sprung from a need for social support within the structure of a virtual office. The same technologies which now effectively facilitate on-the-job collaboration, are now also used to host virtual holiday parties and even team-building activities. And these platforms can also serve as a medium to support health-related benefits such as virtual therapy. While this isn’t a new and separate technology, it is certainly a new and separate use for an existing one.
5. Digital Monitoring of Remote Workers for HR Purposes
Businesses are increasingly using digital tools to monitor and manage employee performance. While virtual clocking-in and out are not a completely new concept, they are certainly growing in use. Businesses can also monitor work-computer usage and keep tabs on employee emails and internal communications. Of course, this raises a whole host of new ethics concerns, but most would agree that there’s little hope of avoiding it completely. For the sake of compensation and feedback, businesses have to know what their employees are doing. This article at PC Magazine reviews and ranks the top 10 monitoring programs.
As you can see, the pandemic crisis has dramatically impacted the way we use office technology. And these new trends have changed the landscape permanently. Even as the pandemic winds down and the world returns to some semblance of normalcy, the benefits and freedoms of remote working, along with the cost savings of outsourcing, will ensure that these changes stay with us, into the future. Contact us now at Virtual Done Well, to see how we can help you better implement these changes for your own business, or even help your transition go more smoothly.