Business Development

4 Lessons We’ve Learned From Remote Working

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In this guest article, Laura May from Just Another Magazine explores the lessons that they have learned from lockdown remote-working – and what this could mean for 2021.


The world of business has found itself in a unique position in recent times. With coronavirus sending employees packing and putting office life on pause, remote working has witnessed a huge spike out of necessity, rather than popularity,

However, working from home was becoming commonplace well before the pandemic struck. This is because it possesses many merits which were unattainable while working in an office environment – whether due to logistical issues, or simply because the status quo left little room for change before now.

The big question remains: will we ever see a return to standard working life now Pandora’s Box has been opened? It seems incredibly unlikely, especially considering what we’ve learned along the way.

Like a television reboot, if the office is set to make a miraculous return, then it will come with many changes. Read on to discover what the office could look like in 2021.


1. Good communication streamlines the working day

Back in the office, we were able to talk to one another at any point in time. Be it a natter around the cafetière, a tap on the shoulder as your work buddy swivels in their chair, or a quick gathering around the water cooler to organise after-work drinks.

When team members were separated and remote working became a reality, it was clear to see communication was something we previously took for granted. But the rationing of communication opportunities also has its upsides.

Collaborating online streamlines the way we ask for assistance or clear up confusion. If you’re typing an answer you’re less likely to deviate from the point, because there’s less room for digression and greater importance placed on conciseness.

Whether we find ourselves back in the office or not, 2021 will be all about balancing social and professional conversations at work.

While streamlining communication channels is incredibly important, you can experience problems with your motivation if starved of normal interaction. And too much socialising can have the opposite effect, leading to a drop in productivity if you’re constantly being distracted.

A way to solve both extremes is to mediate social interactions with colleagues. This can come in the form of daily briefings and coffee mornings. Each can be achieved in the office and further afield with video conference software like Google Hangouts or Zoom.us.

Either way, these informal meetings will come in handy as business adapts in the coming years. They are a valuable tool to set the day off right and establish a working mood for the rest of the shift.


2. Task management software is a vital investment

Remote working has posed businesses with a variety of challenges this year. And keeping track of tasks is right up there with the best of them.

At the office, we could benefit from a gentle reminder, but on our own, the burden is primarily on our shoulders: projects might fall by the wayside, important work will go unscheduled, and all-important deadlines will be missed. 

To combat this issue, many businesses have been investing in task management software developed by the likes of Asana, Trello, and GetBusy.com. Although these tools were widely used in the office in the past, now they have risen to dizzying new prominence as people are forced to work from home.

Harking back to the importance of effective communication, task managers allow you to break down assignments into concise instructions, thereby, avoiding the need to get up and ask questions in person (assuming we get back to working in an office environment soon).

As for remote working, task management software ultimately facilitates better organisation during a time where everything feels so dispersed by digitally mapping out your workload with reminders and set deadlines.


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3. Flexible hours are a must for work-life balance

Whether or not managers choose to trust their staff is one of the biggest factors in dictating the long term success of remote working. Attempting to micromanage people's home lives is a redundant business plan.

Remote working is can be chaotic, but that’s not to say people can’t be effective. Allowing flexible hours has proven to be a mutually beneficial solution for workers and managers alike.

Flexi-hours incorporate a disciplined working routine into the unpredictable nature of home life. Plus, they allow people to split up their day and take care of things at their own pace, without having the extra stress of finishing work in strict time frames.

Assuming there are no tight deadlines and providing the rest of the team is aware, it shouldn’t matter when the work gets done.


4. People’s work stations need a revamp

Picture the typical office setup: identical desks, monitors, chairs — a popular approach to ensure every one of your staff was on equal footing. And the right decision in many cases, but remote working has taught us to reimagine the office and optimise it for individual needs.

Everyone is unique and here to perform different roles, and working from home has allowed people to build a workstation which is right for them. So, when the time comes to move back to the office, owners should consider adding a little extra variety to their workplace.

Your workforce is a tapestry of different talents skill sets. Try giving each employee a budget to build their setup in the office. This creates space for an equally different landscape, rather than the greyish bore of old.

Whether you love it or hate it, remote working has shown the business world a new way to do things, from flexible hours and fancy new desks to better-integrated software and tech. If office life is ever to return, one thing is for sure: it will look very different.


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