The coronavirus pandemic is affecting many facets of our daily lives, especially the way we work. A lot of governments as well as employers are requiring their people to work remotely as part of the efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, based on research completed just recently by Lenovo, a majority of employers in five countries — US, Italy, Germany, China, and Japan — believe that this may have a long-lasting impact on how employers view remote-work policies.
According to the research, workers feel at least somewhat ready to make the shift to working from home if required (87%), which is becoming a likely scenario as the majority of companies have either encouraged (46%) or required (26%) remote work since the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved globally. During these disruptive times, technology can enable us to keep moving forward.
“At Lenovo, we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our employees, customers, and communities,” said David Rabin, vice president of global commercial marketing, Lenovo. With that in mind, Rabin gives four ways on how to use technology to make working from home effective.
Stay flexible and connected through portable technology
Lenovo’s research team found that of the employees working from home, 71 percent feel they have access to the technology they need. Just like in modern workspaces, people move with their laptops in hand from a desk to a huddle room, to a couch, or even to a walking treadmill if the company has one. When working from, the new form-factors and easily portable laptops and mobile workstations allow employees to keep the same pace, so they can stay active. You don’t have to sit in the “home office” base or one setting throughout the entire day. Instead, you might move to your sofa or kitchen island with your laptop. And you no longer have to worry about battery life. The improved smart stand-by features in laptops give you 30 percent more battery usage, so you can be free to move around. Staying active will, in turn, make you more engaged and efficient while you use these technologies to fuel your work.
Leverage productivity and collaboration tools
Consider productivity enhancers like a monitor, webcam, as well as collaboration tools such as a headset or conferencing tool.
A monitor is a major productivity tool in the office and at home. If you are used to having two monitors, your laptop and a larger monitor at work, you should consider duplicating this set-up at home. In case you are working on a lot of spreadsheets, graphic design items, architectural plans and detailed work that requires larger screens, an extra monitor is immensely helpful.
Video is key to the remote working environment. It’s an engaging style that enables employees to feel connected and avoid that feeling of isolation typically reported when working from home. It’s important that companies make sure their employees are armed with the ability to use the best video-conferencing technology. The latest laptops, desktops, and workstations all have enhanced video and audio features that provide microphones for 360-degree reception and a four-meter far-field performance.
With all these capabilities your PC now acts more like a smartphone with an optimized user experience ensuring more phone-like, always-on, always-connected state.
Enhanced visibility through collaboration tools. In our office space, many of us use the latest collaboration tools for conferencing like one-touch start devices to meetings in a huddle-room. At home, we can use personal collaboration devices or PCs that are enhanced with collaboration software platforms.
If working remotely makes you fear losing your visibility among colleagues or worry you’ll feel isolated, take advantage of Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, or other video-conferencing tools. Taking even five minutes to chat with someone with whom you haven’t connected in a while can shift your entire mood or workflow for the better. Never underestimate the importance of a chatroom or a direct message. Keeping a team chatroom open all day will make you feel connected and aligned. Some employees are even utilizing their company’s video-conferencing solutions to ping a colleague and grab a virtual lunch together. The right technology provides not just productivity, but personal connectivity.
Encourage flexible work schedules
As COVID-19 impacts childcare and other services, be sensitive to the ways your colleagues may be juggling work and home responsibilities in new and challenging ways. Chances are you’re no longer the only one in your household dealing with the effects of coronavirus in your community, so make sure to communicate clearly to let your household know that it’s work time. Starting and ending work at the same time each day will help you separate professional and personal time. At the same time, be flexible understanding that others might be working from home as well. This is where an extra pair of noise-canceling headphones could come in nicely.
Lenovo’s reach found that 61 percent of employees feel they are as productive if not more productive when working from home versus working elsewhere, the primary reasons employees choose not to do so in normal conditions or feel they are less productive at home, are distractions like TVs or an inability to separate work and family life. Setting some boundaries and daily schedules will help eliminate those distractions and increase your ability to focus.
Communicate often as this might be the new norm
“As managers, it’s our job to make sure our team feel connected and happy. Because employees are uncertain as to how well normal business operations will be if the majority of employees need to work from home, clear and open communication is vital during these transitional periods,” said Rabin.
As we move forward, company policies are evolving and will continue to do so. The many uncertainties presented by COVID-19 challenge businesses to find new ways to collaborate with their teams while working remotely. According to Lenovo’s global research, 77 percent of employees feel that companies will be more open to or even encourage letting workers work remotely once we get through this period.
The employee experience in the workplace was already changing before the pandemic. Technology capabilities had already ushered a new global workforce that stays connected in a work-from-anywhere world. According to Lenovo, since 2005, the work-at-home population has grown 159 percent and is still trending up. The situation we are in right now is only confirming that the investment employers are making in technology right now won’t be wasted as most people feel productive at home and believe that the workforce will move more in this direction after.