Society as a whole has undergone radical changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the most significant was the transition from in-office to remote work across various industries all over the world. The sudden surge in remote work created a cause for global discussion regarding best practices for bringing workforce teams together from afar.
While many businesses already started adapting to remote work pre-pandemic, for others, it’s still a brand-new concept they are having to navigate while they adhere to social distancing measures. This evolution puts a spotlight on how remote work and meetings can be adapted for the future of business continuity. Business leaders are now being challenged with adjusting their office culture for when the pandemic subsides. Below I share a few best practices for the future of work post-pandemic and beyond.
The majority of the global workforce has been working remotely since mid-March, or in some cases, even earlier. Businesses large and small are still trying to figure out the best way to stay connected with one another while keeping team communication, morale, and motivation high. 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.
And now that we’re all dispersed, sharing everything from notes, to annotations, to whiteboarding has to be digital in order to be effective. Some of the advantages of going digital is that meeting information can be easily seen, saved, and shared after 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 digital meetings allows everyone to see, share, and understand so that team meetings can be more effective.
Implement Effective Collaboration Tools
The way that meetings happen has also had to shift during this change. 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.
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.
To effectively bring teams together, companies will need to invest in technology such as interactive displays that provide touchscreen capabilities as well as integration with videoconferencing software to support collaboration. 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.
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. Interactive displays require touch, which is an important consideration post-COVID and as companies look for ways to keep employees returning to the office protected. Our displays, for example, work seamlessly with latex gloves. Also, nearly all manufacturers offer a website that speaks to how to both disinfect and clean the display safely. Further, many of us are collaborating with companies that have anti-bacterial cleaning solutions, such as Austere Clean & Protect. And it was recently noted that it’s not likely that COVID is being transmitted via surfaces. But for those who do have that concern, it’s perfectly okay to disinfect and clean the display (as you should with all items in a shared room) or to limit hand exposure by giving everyone their own stylus to use.
Prepare for WFH
Another change we’ll see come from this time in history is that businesses will need to 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 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.
When we get to the other side of the health crisis, organizations will be faced with reevaluating their position on remote work. In many cases, the remote work culture was already a growing trend before the pandemic, yet there are still many offices across the globe that had not yet begun to adapt. The sudden transition has created many lessons learned and developed best practices for the most efficient ways to implement remote work policies. Technology that ensures that teams are using the best 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 that support social-distancing practices and can also connect to local and remote employees—effectively, efficiently, and quickly.
Dana Corey is the SVP and GM of Avocor.