The recent global health crisis has driven a majority of businesses to move to remote work settings in an effort to practice social distancing and manage the spread of COVID-19.
This sudden surge in remote work caused a society-wide discussion on the best ways to approach bringing teams and companies together from afar. For many companies, remote work is already a large part of their culture, for others, it is a new concept that they are just beginning to navigate because of the recent COVID-19 induced work shift. This transition puts a spotlight on remote work and meetings for the future of business continuity.
Now is the time to refine best practices across organizations. The question now is what will remote work look like in business after the pandemic wanes?
How will companies approach remote work, virtual meetings and company collaboration and communication?
I highlight perspectives on the future of remote work and corporate collaboration, and predictions on considerations that business leaders will face as we begin to recover from this health crisis.
Effective long-term remote work relies on better meeting spaces in addition to better home offices
Now, a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of the professional workforce has moved its staff to working fully remote. Many people have now been remote since March or earlier — and companies are still trying to figure out the best way to get connected with one another and keep team communication, morale, and motivation high.
And now that we’re all dispersed, sharing everything from notes, to annotations, to whiteboarding has to be digital in order to be effectively shared. Some of the advantages of going digital is that meeting information can be easily seen, saved and shared beyond the meeting.
This skill will also be helpful in the phased release back to work, so that meeting rooms that are all digital can easily share video, data, annotations and whiteboards to team members anywhere, including other meeting room endpoints and personal devices. Moving to all-digital meetings allows everyone to see, share and understand so meetings can be more effective.
The way that meetings happen has also had to shift during this change – morning team standup meetings, one-on-one check-ins, large board calls – in a very short amount of time, all types of meetings have been forced to take place remotely, which puts a spotlight on the importance of effective tools and meeting spaces, even when things have returned to normal and businesses are again fully operational.
The right combination of software and hardware, developed specifically for bringing teams together both in-person and remotely, is critical for ensuring success whether a meeting is happening physically together in a board meeting or huddle space, or from several different home offices.
Another change we’ll see come from this time in history is that businesses will be more prepared to have employees work from anywhere – whether that is home, on the road, or anywhere else – and this will impact meetings and collaboration as well.
As more employees leverage corporate collaboration tools like Zoom and Skype, or project management and communication apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack for the first time to stay connected, they will also be better prepared to use this technology when they’re back in the office. The effectiveness of these tools now will further solidify their importance to communication strategies in the future.
Once travel and businesses become fully operational – changes to meeting culture will be reevaluated
Once businesses re-open physical offices, there will still be a big delay in travel spend. This is for a lot of reasons – most notably, to cut costs as businesses are taking a big financial hit right now and there will still be a lot of apprehension around travel from leadership and employees alike.
There will be a need for meetings to extend beyond the four walls of a meeting space to include communication with remote employees, global teams, and others in the organization that are contributing to the business – this requires a shift in meeting culture. It’s no longer enough to have a static meeting space with maybe a few outlets, a conference phone, and a projector.
To effectively bring teams together, companies are investing in interactive displays that provide touch screen capabilities as well as integration with video conferencing software. The displays provide the ease-of-use akin to traditional whiteboards, but with the ability to share, by showing cloud-based real-time annotations with (and from) everyone on a call and then saving and sending the meeting’s ideas and edits.
It’s essentially like having your touch-screen laptop at room scale and accessible to everyone on the call. With this technology, team meetings are easy to set up and they encourage confident decision-making, improving and expediting team relationships and even reducing meeting frequency, in turn bolstering productivity and bridging communication gaps.
After spending so much time in virtual meetings, the new work culture will likely have a renewed optimism about using video for calls. Video enhances the conference call experience in many ways – it maximizes the meeting time by keeping people accountable, for example, as people are more likely to arrive early or on time to video calls as it is more difficult to sneak in unnoticed.
Video also allows for nonverbal visual cues to be a part of the call experiences and can also attract interest from younger demographics who are more comfortable with video as a digital communication tool.
The value of in-person meetings will also be underlined after this time of such widespread remote work. It is likely that teams will value their time spent in-person more and will not take it for granted. This will lead to more focused and intentional time spent together when people do meet in person. Organizations will look at how they can improve upon meeting operations and corporate collaboration space in their physical offices – and they will need collaboration and communication solutions-providers to support them in this change.
Remote work will become more accepted and policies will be more clearly defined
When we’re on the other side of the pandemic, it is likely that organizations will reevaluate their position on remote work. Before COVID-19, remote work culture was already a growing trend, yet there are still many companies that prefer to have employees in physical office spaces as much as possible.
As this sudden transition has made remote work the de-facto way of keeping businesses running, there will be a lot of lessons-learned and best-practices developed on the most efficient ways to implement remote work policies. Technology that ensures that teams are using the best corporate collaboration tools effectively will be an instrumental part of developing remote work policies in the future.
As companies use this time to perfect home offices and create productivity channels for virtual communication, the next step will be to set up meeting spaces to connect to local and remote employees — effectively, efficiently and quickly.
For companies that already offered fully remote work or as-needed remote work before this crisis, this time will likely serve as a reminder of the value that flexibility in work location brings to employees and their lives, and its ability to inspire morale and job commitment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put an emphasis on the large impact that digital transformation and strategy plays in an overall organization’s business implementation. Companies are learning that it is important to set employees up to communicate effectively from afar, but there are also key components of work-culture that, even with the best intentions, are hard to completely replicate.
All of the lessons we’re learning now will help manufacturers and other solutions-providers in the industry to better understand the specific needs that the modern workplace faces such as the challenges that come with teams working remotely, and how they can develop new solutions to help mediate these challenges.