What a difference a year makes. Back in 2019, remote work was seen as highly desirable by many workers, but businesses were still reluctant to offer that kind of flexibility. In fact, just 3.4% of employees were working remotely full-time.
Then COVID-19 hit, and overnight, remote work went from an outlying trend to the reality for a significant number of businesses. And it looks like it’s here to stay. Many companies plan to adopt more permanent remote positions, while others have already announced that employees will be allowed to work from home permanently.
A roundtable discussion with SINC
We’ve learned a lot in 2020 about taking remote work from theory to practice and about what employees really need to succeed when working from home. To discover more about how IT leaders are enabling success within their organizations amid this new normal, RingCentral partnered with SINC to discuss the new requirements for a distributed workforce.
“[The pandemic] was a wake-up call for many businesses,” said Ken Zeng, RingCentral’s VP of Product Marketing. “A lot of folks were dabbling (with work-from-home arrangements), and this really forced the issue.” Even for businesses that already had WFH plans in place, the realities of remote work meant refining tools and strategies—and exploring their results reveals an improved roadmap for remote work 2.0.
The #1 imperative for better remote workplaces
While the pandemic proved that it’s possible for employees to get their work done remotely, the next challenge for businesses is optimizing tools and workflows to make the results of working from home even better.
“That’s really where I think the opportunity right now is, to actually take it from a responsive, reactive type of thing [to being] proactive. How can we build a better experience with our customers? How can we deliver service better? How can it be more enriching? How can we get you that information faster?”
Overwhelmingly, the consensus was that communication makes this happen.
Lorenzo Hines, Global Senior VP of IT at Citi, said remote productivity took off when employees began widely using tools such as internal instant messaging, team intranets, and phone calls to stay in constant contact. He’s also shifted the frequency of meetings to create more opportunities for virtual face time.
“I have required daily meetings with all of my individual teams,” Hines said. “We do that every day. That way… everybody gets the same information. [Before], I would have a weekly one-on-one and a weekly team meeting. Now that’s daily.”
But implementing new communications technologies can trigger new challenges, from the complexity of managing multiple apps that perform functions that were once seamless in person to new security imperatives. The good news? Simplifying tools can relieve many of these pain points. “A single application can actually help accomplish all of that,” Zeng said.
From mitigating security risks to the impact of remote work on recruiting and integrating new employees moving forward, IT leaders have a lot to say about their experiences of the last few months—and what we can learn about positioning remote workers for success.
Originally published Sep 10, 2020, updated Sep 15, 2020