5 Ways COVID-19 Has Changed The Business World Forever

Jimmy Kehoe, Head of Vodafone Business Digital Sales, discusses the future of work after Coronavirus.

Now that the world is a couple of months into dealing with COVID-19 and it looks like things will never be the same again, at least not for a long time. It got me wondering — how is this going to impact businesses and society after the pandemic passes?

For the past 15 years or so, I have been lucky enough to work from home when I need to. I have my own office space in our house, so I can work at the same level or even improve my productivity when I work remotely. But now that many companies have their employees working from home, what can we learn from this?

  1. Being Productive Without Burning Out

A recent Stanford study shows that working from home makes you more productive. You take fewer breaks, you are more rested as you don’t have to commute, plus you aren’t distracted that much. I can relate: home office drastically decreases the number of “do you have a minute?” kind of chats, plus I can just blast through stuff, follow up on emails, or just have time to think. And the numbers? It turns out that people working from home actually work 16.8 more days in a year than those who stay in the office. I’m proof, I start earlier and finish later because I’m not commuting.

However, how to keep all this high productivity without burning yourself out? By working hard both in your day job and housework you often prioritize your clients’, managers’, family’s duties before carving out time for yourself. Making sure that you take enough time to decompress and relax is essential to keep your best form. Why not start a new hobby? Harvard Business Review suggests that creating new can take our mind off our stressors and help us meet our work and life challenges.

2. Trust & Communication Always On

The greatest fear of business owners and managers is having their workers sit at home doing nothing. Trust is still a crucial part of any work relationship — so perhaps it’s time for managers to loosen the leash a little. According to a survey by Gallup, spending three to four days working from home greatly boosts employee engagement. Simply put, a remotely working employee is a more productive and a more enthusiastic one. Therefore — trust is key, but a tight leash is not. Leaders just have to become comfortable through necessity.

Communication is a key to having robust trust too. We have an open-door policy at Vodafone Business Digital Sales, and we keep it even when working remotely. This encourages two-way communication and closer teamwork, across businesses and time zones, both in and outside of the office.

3. Tech & Security Are Essential

Vodafone is a telco, and as such, has all the gadgets to make remote working work. Still, you do not need to be an innovation leader to let your workers work from home. A secure connection through VPN, a laptop, a steady internet connection, and you’re mostly good to go. If business owners are still afraid of productivity levels dropping, there are dozens of ways to monitoring activity. With tech solutions so available and easy, you can’t really blame it on the equipment anymore. It’s 2020, and it has never been this easy to work remotely.

Not just that, to address the concerns of data or network breach, today’s tech solutions can support multiple devices, with round-the-clock protection against network intrusions while ensuring that valuable data remains safe.

4. Fostering Digital Life & Engagement

Perhaps one of the least discussed aspects of remote working is the company’s responsibility. We can all fear of our employees not being productive enough, but if we are not providing the necessary training on how to stay productive, we can only blame ourselves. Studies show that a mere 17% of employees receive training on how to work from home while maintaining productivity levels. This should not be a big deal, though — just have a remote working policy in place, and make sure everyone knows what is expected of him or her if they are not in the office and that your managers are trained to manage, lead and engage remotely, it’s easy — just different.

With these unprecedented and uncertain times, the hiring activity has also moved to a whole new level. Companies across the globe, including us at Vodafone Business Digital Sales, are hiring, on-boarding, and training employees virtually.

5. The New Business As Usual (BAU)

What would be the new ‘business as usual’ be, I wonder? After this pandemic passes, we will live in a new world, trying to access what was the impact in our everyday lives and on how we work. With a half-full glass perspective, I’m convinced we will learn new things, new (and better) ways to communicate, and maybe see the world of business in a new light. We will be more aware of our capabilities and will know of new ways to overcome challenges.

Still, I can’t really predict how the impact on businesses and people’s lives by working from home for an extended period of time. But what I can tell from my experience is this:

Work is what we do, and not where we are!

Jimmy Kehoe is a full-time proud Dad & Husband. In his free time he’s training for his next triathlon, coaches junior basketball and spends his working days leading and inspiring the Digital Sales organisation within Vodafone Business.

Staying connected while we stay apart. As a provider of critical connectivity and communications services enabling our digital society, Vodafone has a five-point plan to help the communities in which we operate in Europe.

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