When the businesses were forced to shut their doors during the pandemic and have their employees work remotely, some did not fair well and had to permanently close shop. Those that were able to adapt to the new normal found ways to keep running while their staff was sitting in their living rooms staring at computer screens. Of the companies that did make it through this unprecedented shift, other challenges presented themselves in the form of employee disengagement.
Some managers who never had to oversee a purely remote workforce did not know how to handle the lack of control and chance to manage their employees work, even going so far as to have software that took a picture of the worker to make sure they were on the computer. Others would monitor the time each employee was on Microsoft Teams and questioned every absence. Some parts of the workforce became disenchanted with these kinds of tactics to manage their every movement, while other people decided to cash in on government subsidies rather than deal with these issues of balancing work and home life.
The truth about the workforce
Many organizations started to understand how certain employees who may have been quiet and unassuming in the office, were now top performers and able to manage themselves effectively. Others who may have been perceived as effective employees were now mediocre because they were unable to benefit from the work of others. The lockdown showed management how their views on performance measurement may have been skewed and now that everyone was working remotely, it really separated the weak performers from potential leaders.
Adapting to a new normal
Before Covid-19 forced 60% of the workforce to do their jobs remotely, only 31% of total workers had worked away from the office. Some managers were ill-equipped to deal with a workforce that wasn’t in front of them every day and had to switch how they gauged performance almost overnight. Remote meeting software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams took a huge leap forward in capabilities and within a few days, a whole new vernacular for meetings was born. What once was an easy matter of meeting in a boardroom to go over details of a project now became a technological feat to those who were not adept at using a computer. Staying engaged with employees was a challenge that some companies struggled with as they learned to navigate technology that was itself going through immense changes. The bugs had to be worked out of the whole system.
Separating the under performers from the future leaders
While companies were undergoing this monumental shift in business methods, there was one element of their staff that became obvious. Those employees who had been flying under the radar for years because they were part of a personal collaborative environment stood out like a sore thumb in an electronic world.
Being part of a team allowed them to reap the rewards of their team’s efforts while doing very little on their own. These individuals were forced to step up and become more productive because their contributions to the collaboration process were more obvious. It became a sink or swim situation, which became a blessing in disguise for some companies.
As the new leaders in the company were discovered, those individuals became candidates for higher positions and furthering education opportunities. They also became part of a workforce that made it clear they preferred to work remotely. Something as complex as getting a DBA online, has now been made possible because of remote setups. A DBA is a great way for professionals to advance their knowledge within a chosen field and gain some essential transferable skills they can use in their day to day work.
Submitting work online made it easy for management to see who was contributing to a particular project, when, and for how long each day. This made it very evident to see who the main producers were. The employees who normally skated by on the work of others would have to change their ways or risk being let go. Additional work and contributions through channels like Slack could show managers how engaged certain employees were with other staff members. Programs like Google docs became a popular collaboration tool and could show a digital trail of who worked on a particular document. This was a monumental shift in how management could monitor the progress of their employees.
A more engaged workforce
Remote work let a lot of people who felt uncomfortable speaking up in a group or awkward in social situations voice their opinions. These people had excellent ideas and valuable input but were too intimidated in an office setting. Remote work brought out the best in them and allowed them to engage with their colleagues without feeling any pressure. The extra personal space also gave these introverts time to collect their thoughts before engaging in conversation with others in the group.
More space for creativity
Being able to have more personal space while working allowed employees the time to think creatively and engage in deeper work without interruption. Not everyone can concentrate well in a busy and open-concept work environment, so for those people, the work-from-home model was and is a blessing.
Organizations are still getting used to the hybrid and work-from-home models. Those that have embraced the benefits have more productive and engaged employees. These staff members understand how to monitor themselves from home while taking some time to enjoy the freedom afforded to them by being able to work remotely.