The coronavirus outbreak has forced employers and employees to embrace work-from-home. In this regard, some HR and corporate leaders are planning for work arrangements permanently from home in a post-pandemic world.
In order to conduct this, the complete recruitment and management teams should expand the flexible work arrangements on a more permanent basis.
The idea about remote offices will probably grow with immense popularity, as it is now clear that it is possible for a lot of businesses to have full-time remote workers organized in teams, the same way as in regular offices.
However, this idea is not new, especially in the IT industry.
The remote teamwork in pre-pandemic era
Long before the pandemic, there were needs to build a dedicated remote team that would bring new experience and solve problems that in-house teams could not.
The goal was not to create a group of freelancers, but to make a fully functional team that will have the same rules and obligations as the regular team in the office.
Such remote teams can work from everywhere, even from other countries. If this is the case, such remote teams are called offshore teams and the business model is called offshore software development.
As this strategy may look ineffective at first glance, the benefits may be vast:
- Experienced developers
- Cost-efficient operational activities
- Ability to quickly adjust to new technologies
- A scalable, “Hands off Model”
However, in order to achieve these objectives, the companies that decided to try the offshore development model had problems as they were not experienced in building such remote teams.
This was the birth of offshore development centres, i.e. companies that offer services of building dedicated software development teams in another country.
These companies helped businesses create a remote team thousands of kilometres away. As the time passed, the offshore development centres became more and more experienced in finding experienced teams that will meet the expectations of various companies worldwide.
The model of remote offices and remote teams, such as offshore development, has become interesting to a lot of industries as it offers flexibility and reduced operational costs.
And now, a lot of companies worldwide are looking to create something similar, but because of different reasons – global pandemic.
The offshoring business model took years to be developed for the specific needs of the companies and it can work even in crisis situations, such as a COVID-19 pandemic, but most of the companies cannot adjust quickly.
However, the good thing is that this model can offer a good foundation for adjusting the global economy to new rules after this crisis passes.
So, how will remote teamwork look at the post-pandemic era?
The COVID-19 situation is showing all the benefits, but also the flaws of the remote working environment.
These are some problems related to remote work:
- Less effective video meetings
- Team members are inexperienced with project management software
- Lack of motivation because of distractions at home
This is expected since 90% of the companies weren’t prepared for this scenario.
However, remote work will probably become more methodical around the world after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s see what are the keep points:
- Operational changes
In order to keep this remote working effective, some things need to change, not only from the organizational aspect, but also from the worker’s point of view.
For example, one needs to separate the workspace from the rest of the house. This was one of the main problems for the freelancers and now it has become a problem for the remote workers as well.
Moving forward, all team members have to be practical and focus on effective communication. This will help reduce the need for video meetings, which are now a necessity in order to share information quickly.
One way of solving this would be the use of effective communication tools and project management solutions. The company should support the team with the right tools for staying connected, as this will be a smooth transition from on-site to remote work.
It will take time for the management team to focus on overcoming problems related to equipment and policies, broadband access, missing or inadequate software, cybersecurity measures and other elements, but once this is solved, the remote working model will become sustainable.
In time, the remote, or home-based workers will become well-trained and experienced. The risk of miscommunication between employees and companies will become reduced, so there won’t be a drop off on productivity.
The teleconference will become more mainstream than ever after the COVID-19 pandemic. The other significant part of this model is that remote work is often flexible and better for the environment.
- Interactions with clients
As mentioned, effective communication is the key between remote teams and the company, but also between clients and the company.
Adopting the multi channel communication for instant messaging with the clients can boost the sales actually. Most organizations consider this the trickiest aspect of the virtual workplace.
But, COVID-19 pandemic showed that companies became actually better with online client service than a traditional face-to-face meeting.
The organized and courteous set up for a video chat or phone call increased the efficiency of interaction. This interactive setup and compatible communication system by the workplaces become appreciated by both parties.
The reality showed that the companies that conduct video conference training sessions for clients, prospects and others got an enhanced benefit.
So, are the companies prepared?
On average, no.
The reason is that the predictions of such a crisis were very low, maybe similar to the catastrophic events such as hurricanes.
While most companies have already formulated continuity plans in case of some types of crisis, most companies were not quite prepared for the challenges set by COVID-19.