Preserving Humanity With Tech in Our Rapidly Changing World: Part 3
For a number of years, a few evangelist companies have preached the benefits and touted the rewards of working remotely. However, the vast majority of companies have dragged their heels on this topic- at least until last month.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the hands of companies from across industries to embrace remote working almost overnight. It’s no longer just an option; it’s a necessity to keep our economy afloat through this challenging time. But I daresay without the current crisis, most companies would have taken at least 3 to 5 more years to truly embrace working from home.
Though the remote work revolution may have been forced upon us, I don’t believe we’ll ever go back to the pre-pandemic status-quo. Why? Because this experiment is already proving itself successful. Companies are seeing success and productivity. And workers are becoming accustomed to the convenience and flexibility offered by the remote work lifestyle, they won’t want to rush back to long, arduous commutes and fixed office hours.
But- these wins don’t mean that we’ve got working from home down to a perfect art. We’re still fine-tuning many nuances when it comes to working and maintaining human relationships virtually.
Businesses have faced a variety of challenges connecting workers with the right hardware they need to do their work at home. This includes computers, monitors, ergonomic chairs, keyboards, and the other peripherals required to work effectively at a computer for extended periods of time.
When the pandemic hit our Vancouver office, our very own COO had to resort to a cloak and dagger mission fitting of any James Bond movie just to drop a laptop off for our Head of Project Management, as he was confined to quarantine upon returning from an overseas trip!
Another somewhat overlooked need for your fully remote team is the ability of utilities to support the bandwidth needed to make it all possible. With more and more people working online- and spending their free time there too- existing internet connections are feeling the stress.
On the software front, tools that enable connection, collaboration, and productivity have been around for a long while now. Productivity software was already a hyper-competitive and booming market before COVID-19, and now its front runners like Slack, Google’s Productivity Suite, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are set for a period of even more growth. Video conferencing services take connection one step further. But do these tools really make up for the lack of physical interaction?
It depends. Theoretically, yes. But only if we can use them to maintain the human connections that make all the rest of the work we do possible, and perhaps more importantly — worthwhile! Right now, even with these tools, barriers still stand in the way of video conferencing feeling as intuitive as speaking face to face. Comfort with video conferencing tools like Zoom has especially been a challenge for older users, and there’s been plenty of coverage on how tiring communicating via software actually is.
Familiarity with collaboration and productivity tools doesn’t just happen overnight. More than a few workers have had to re-acquaint themselves with an entirely new system these past few weeks, adding stress during a crazy time — call by call, day by day, we’re getting better at it though.