COVID19 & remote work
Many companies are working remotely. Is it possible to sustain our GDP with that work model? Conversely, would things be much worse if we were not a well-wired economy, where remote work was simply not an option?
Oakey: Remote-work situations are directly dependent upon the industry and the specific position requirements needed to complete the assigned tasks. This directly correlates with sustaining the GDP. Companies should ensure they have a plan for remote work to ensure the delivery of products and services. If remote work is not a normal business process, it will be helpful to include specific positions and processes within their business-continuity plan to have available during any unplanned crisis. Due to technological advancement, we have improved communication with our professional cohorts. This makes it possible to work remotely and deliver within our position without severely impacting the GDP. We would not be able to have success in our roles without the many ways of virtually connecting.
Popelka: The situation around COVID-19 is developing rapidly, with new information being revealed every day. While remote work is enabling several industries and businesses to continue their operations, this is not business as usual. We are being forced to reimagine how we work, regardless of company size or industry. How do we collaborate best with our teams? How can we be the most productive while also taking care of young children? How can we best engage customers and stakeholders without events or in-person meetings? First, we must start with empathy and an understanding that business will change. Things won’t go back to the way they were. But we will see a significant amount of innovation and creativity to adapt to these circumstances—from industries where remote work is an option and those where it isn’t. Businesses will pivot and create new business models, and new solutions and innovations will be created to address the challenges and changes we’re experiencing.
Meade: While we are fortunate that many sectors of our economy are telework-ready, many are not. The key question for all of us is how long this disruption will last, as teleworking will not be the answer for so many of our citizens.
Hamilton: The current situation has forced many of us to transition completely to remote work. The interesting challenge is that it’s not just a question of technology and tools—don’t get me wrong, that’s a huge part of it; it’s also about adapting to a different way of work. We’ve created a COVID-19 dashboard in Smartsheet as an on-demand way for our employees to stay up-to-date or log a request. We’re also using Workplace by Facebook to share updates, like our recent live-streamed All Hands meeting, and connect employees during this difficult time and Zoom, where we held a town hall to answer manager questions about our COVID-19 response.
Sethi: Firms that introduce remote work for the first time are going to experience a learning curve, but we’ve seen that firms that invest in the right tools and offer flexibility and remote work can be more productive. In fact, the data show from hire to retire, workers prefer flexibility; slightly over half of job candidates said they would forgo higher salaries for more flexibility. About 77% of business and HR leaders said they’re able to attract talented people by providing good work/life balance and flexibility over hours and working locations. There’s not a one-size-fits-all formula, but really understanding your employees is key.
Mathews: Key factor employees have adapted so well to this unprecedented time. Although an exclusively remote workforce isn’t the reality of all businesses operating today, it is thankfully the greater portion of our workforce.
The pandemic crisis we are facing is truly horrific and will leave a mark on our global economy and psyche for the foreseeable future. Had this crisis emerged a few decades ago when remote work was not an option, the implications economically and socially would have been far worse. Fortunately for many of us, we are equipped with the technology and tools we need to continue driving growth and profitability for our businesses, so let’s be resourceful.