Dogs barking, babies babbling, pots and pans clanking—this is the new soundtrack for many people who have been working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this new reality, employees must now devise clever workarounds—learning how to mute/unmute at lightning speed, mastering the art of virtual meeting set-dressing, seeking out a genius hiding spot for deep concentration, or resorting to posting hand-scrawled “do not disturb” signs on doors.
But there’s one remote work challenge that’s not easily overcome with a clever hack—what to do when tech issues arise. Remote employees can’t turn to cubicle mates or nearby IT colleagues for help with technology issues or questions. Considering the recent exponential increase in remote workers due to COVID-19, that obstacle could easily become a formidable barrier to productivity.
Without a doubt, the surge in remote work is putting significant pressure on organizations and IT departments to increase investments in remote communication and collaboration apps, and to provide employees with a higher level of support.
Consider the following findings from a recent Glassdoor survey about COVID-19 and remote work:
- Almost 3 in 10 employees (28 percent) across all income ranges said their employer has done nothing in response to concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
- 3 in 5 US employees (60 percent) said they are confident they can efficiently do their job remotely, if they are required to work from home indefinitely.
Those sobering figures underscore the importance of training and support, especially now. A recent McKinsey article echoes the sentiment: “[I]t is important in these rapidly evolving times to reinforce the link between business outcomes and longer-term capability building. Learning doesn’t occur only in one-off, discrete events; it should be thought of as part of broader learning journeys that last 12 to 18 months and tie clearly to business outcomes.”
Companies that don’t respond to changing needs are risking a lot—employee productivity, engagement and motivation will surely suffer. According to a 2019 Harvard Business Review article, motivation accounts for 40 percent of the success of team projects.
Companies that don’t respond to changing needs are risking a lot—employee productivity, engagement and motivation will surely suffer.
As ingenious—and sometimes funny—as workarounds can be, they are not sustainable solutions. They’re clunky and often unnecessary—in many instances, employees use workarounds because they simply don’t know that more efficient tools or solutions exist.
Now more than ever, employees need guidance, training and support. Remote work is the reality today, and may be for the foreseeable future. It’s time for organizations to make it a priority.
Image: Designed by katemangostar/Freepik
Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.