It’s not news that COVID-19 suddenly, unexpectedly, and dramatically turned the business world on its head. Business-as-usual changed all at once, without the benefit of the slow and deliberate planning we’re accustomed to. Those changes happened to keep employees safe while making sure work continued.
It was a seismic shift that not even the most forward-looking businesses could’ve anticipated.
What’s also clear is that when the pandemic is under control and we find our “new normal,” it won’t look like what we had before. Businesses have adapted, employees have changed, and attitudes about working are different. We’ve found new ways to do business successfully, and in many areas, there’ll be no turning back.
Here are four old practices that won’t work anymore post-COVID-19.
1. Employees working on-site only
Before COVID, a majority of businesses were uncomfortable with employees working remotely. In fact, 80% of US companies had no remote work program at all.
Employers suffered from inertia—after all, workers always came into the office to work. Without ever trying remote work, most leaders lacked the imagination to understand the potential of working from home.
They worried that employees working away from the office wouldn’t be as productive. They claimed many jobs were “impossible to do remotely.”
Then COVID-19 came around, however, and jobs that were previously “impossible to do remotely” suddenly found their remote wings. What’s more, they achieved good results too. A study by Harvard Business School and New York University found that people who work remotely spend 48.5 more minutes per day than they did pre-virus.
Other surveys found that:
- 44% of executives today feel employees have become more productive working remotely
- 41% of employees feel the same way
- 80% of people enjoy working from home
While many jobs require employees to work on-site, many others can support a remote workforce. Organizations will still need those work-from-home employees post-COVID-19, and they will need to continue supporting remote work.
2. Micromanaging as a management style
With many employees working remotely, management styles need to adjust. Monitoring employees that work in another location requires shifting your methods and expectations.
You can’t just assume an employee is working based on how much time they spend at their desk. Even when you’re at the same location and can see an employee sitting across the room, you don’t know how productive they’re being.
Evaluate their performance, instead, based on the outcome. How is their work? Are they meeting their goals? What’s the quality of their work?
3. Using too many collaboration apps
It’s easy to see how it happened. COVID-19 struck and companies quickly sent their employees home to safety. They hurriedly adopted remote work solutions for messaging, video, and calling—all the tools they needed to keep communication open so that work would get done.
But in rushing to choose new solutions, many ended up with multiple overlapping apps. Having two or more apps that provide video calling, for instance, is not sustainable long term. App overload causes employee fatigue and wastes a significant amount of time.
Seventy percent of workers say having disparate work apps makes it challenging to get their work done. More than two-thirds report wasting up to an hour of work time per day just navigating between various apps. Sixty-eight percent of workers find themselves toggling between different apps up to 10 times in a single hour.
Too many apps can also mean running the risk of employees switching to other unauthorized tools that can pose a security risk.
Because your employees will only utilize technology that’s easy to use, it’s more efficient to provide them with one platform they understand well and are comfortable with.
It’s not surprising that 66% of workers say they’d prefer to use one platform that integrates all the communications they need in a day.
4. Keeping employees in the dark
Remember that your employees always appreciate transparency, especially during uncertain times. They want to understand what’s going on with the business, management expectations, and their position. They want to be confident that the strong company culture they know and love isn’t changing.
They’re no longer in the office to hear news around the water cooler, chat casually with the boss, or celebrate wins in real time. But these are still valid communications needs, and employers must make sure they still happen.
Communication and transparency are critical—even more so now with COVID-19. They’ll need that after the pandemic, as well.
Post-COVID tools to support remote work
When we shift into the post-pandemic period, businesses will face a new work-life paradigm that looks nothing like before. From remote and hybrid work arrangements to new forms of communication, leaders will need to rethink those obsolete practices to stay competitive.
Having the right tools to support remote work will be one of the key differentiators. As work moves beyond the walls of the traditional office, employees everywhere will need technology that facilitates collaboration and drives teamwork.
Tools like unified communications make collaboration effortless by combining team messaging, video conferencing, and cloud phone into a single platform, allowing employees to choose how they want to collaborate and when.
By supporting tomorrow’s work-from-anywhere workplace—and shedding old practices that no longer make business sense—organizations are ready to drive success far beyond the pandemic.
Originally published Nov 06, 2020, updated Apr 26, 2021