The working world looks quite different today than it did, say even three years ago. While office spaces were flooded and hard to come by in 2018 and the years leading up to it, now, it seems like there’s an abundance available. Commutes have all but become extinct, and there are very few valid arguments to return to the ‘way things were. This is a topic of some friction in the business community, but the truth is that many organizations saw almost no loss in productivity from employees working in remote environments, and employees reported much higher levels of work-life balance. This is a win-win and summed up very nicely by Dan Price’s work-from-home policy.
“If you get your work done, that’s all that matters.”
-Dan Price, CEO, Gravity–
The Permanence of the Virtual Work World
Accepting and embracing the longevity of the virtual work world is a key aspect of integrating into the new economy. Embracing the permanence of remote work environments allows organizational leaders and decision-makers to create impactful and effective strategies. Not only this, but it also shifts the perspective to allow for constructive solutions that address some of the ripple effects that remote work environments have.
“It helps if the teams can stay connected somehow or another. It doesn’t have to be the way it used to be – a lot of people work from home now, full time even. That’s not an issue at all. What we’re focused on is how we keep the comradery between our people. We want people to love their job when they work here, and part of that is helping them love their teammates. Even in virtual settings. ”
-Drew Sherman, Director of Marketing & Communications, RPM–
It didn’t take long for the benefits of remote working environments to be noticed by employers and employees alike. Once the benefits were realized and no longer conceptual, other companies began jumping on board, too. Choosing to put the safety, lives, and comfort of their people above the need for in-person communication.
“If we can do it from home, why not? It’s safer, it’s more convenient, and it’s sometimes even easier to get incredible collaborations that way. In essence, that’s what technology is here to facilitate: human-to-human connection. I’m not going to let a country or an ocean stop me from collaborating with someone whose work I admire and respect.”
-Amanda E. Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer, HIDE–
The Impact of Isolation
One negative impact that work-from-home situations can have is an increased feeling of isolation and in some cases depression, amongst employees. This feeling of isolation can easily be compounded if the specific individual lives by themselves or has a limited inner circle. However, there are some simple ways to address this. One solution is to make sure that employees are aware of mental-health-associated benefits in their benefits packages. Another is to hold regular video meetings with team members, and to schedule optional in-person events, as well.
“Things have gotten a lot better already this year, but still definitely a lot of people are feeling the impact and gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic. It feels like it’s over and done in a lot of ways, but that’s not exactly the case. Either way, though, it’s helpful to have conversations about these sorts of things. If not with loved ones, with a professional, or with a confidant. Someone you can trust.”
-Melissa Rhodes, CEO, Psychics 1on1–
Emotional support animals are also a very real thing that many people rely on for comfort and support. Especially in emotional times. Animal companions can be an excellent addition to any household, no matter how big or small, and can do wonders in combating the blues.
“It was absolutely important for us to schedule virtual events and check in on one another during those times that we simply couldn’t come into the office. After we got used to it though, it’s nice knowing we’re able to operate just as efficiently in a remote setting as we are in person. I’m really proud of our team for coming together in that way.”
-Alan Ahdoot, Founder/Partner, AA Law–
Finding New Ways to Connect and Empathize
While it may seem new or foreign for some, technology actually offers a wide array of ways for people to interact with one another. That’s really the driving factor behind most technology when you think about it. Whether it’s social media, games or other forms of entertainment, new smartphones, or anything else – it functions, in one way or another, as a platform through which people can connect, collaborate, and commune. This is important in a day and age that not only relies on technology but also emphasizes empathy.
“Utilizing technology to connect and work together was pretty much what we did already, so now we’ve just leaned into it a little bit further. It’s amazing what technology is capable of these days and we feel seamless. The nice thing is that there are so many different ways to connect with one another through technology, too, that the experience can really be catered to the individuals connecting.”
-Datha Santomieri, Co-Founder and Vice President, Steadily–
The push for remote connectivity and work-from-anywhere functionality also led to many companies innovating. This created an additional wave of start-ups and entrepreneurs into the market as well, adding an extra boost to the tech and mobile markets at that time.
“Our entire company is about connecting grandparents and their grandkids through a video platform that is engaging for the child, and easy for the grandparent. So, yeah, the remote connection is really what we’re all about. I think it’s great, too, that so many companies are allowing their employees the flexibility to work from anywhere. There are still plenty of ways for team members to stay connected with one another, and we’ve seen higher reports of work-life-balances too.”
-Jim Marggraff, CEO, Kinoo–
Company Travel and Retreats
While the virtual work world is likely to persist for the foreseeable future, certain other industries have started to operate again. One such industry is travel. This is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the many regions of the globe that rely on tourism in some capacity or another can hope to revive that influential arm of their economy.
Additionally, it means that companies can bring their people together for conferences, retreats, and other travel-based in-person events. Creating a perfect opportunity for team bonding in person.
“Bringing the whole team together from time to time, usually annually, is really awesome. It’s so refreshing to see everyone’s face and to get together and actually hear the laughter in the air. It’s awesome. Sometimes it makes me miss going into the office every day….sometimes. I’m definitely happy with how we’ve managed to transition to mostly remote operations without sacrificing our internal connections.”
-Liza Kirsh, CMO, Dymapak–
In team bonding, it’s just as important for colleagues and co-workers to blow off steam and have fun together as it is for them to be productive and work hard together. This is what makes company retreats and paid travel trips so valuable for employees. It allows the people in the organization a chance to relax and bond away from the office and the associated paperwork.
“It’s totally necessary to just have fun from time to time. It’s refreshing, it helps me think outside the box, and it certainly helps me relax. I think companies need to recognize how hard their people are working for them and show them that appreciation from time to time, outside of the payroll.”
-Trey Ferro, CEO, Spot Pet Insurance–
The virtual work-world and work-from-anywhere culture is very likely here to stay. In this day and age of remote connection; human connection remains vital. Flexibility is one of the many benefits that come with working from home and gives employees a chance to establish a strong and high-quality work-life balance.
“In many places, remote-work opportunities are no longer just a luxury option, they’re a standard feature.”
-David Hassell, CEO, 15Five–