If you were not already employing people working from home you will have had to send your staff into lockdown with whatever you had available. Fortunately many desktop computers had been replaced by laptops already and smartphones are now commonplace, so you have probably sorted out the hardware and software. The bigger question is not WHAT you are using but HOW it’s being used.
We are used to using email as a way of sharing factual information even when working together in an office, so this has continued much as before. However email is not a good way of sharing emotions or putting feelings behind the words. We need a substitute for the face-to-face meeting, the corridor conversation and the coffee time chat.
Over the lockdown many people have discovered Zoom and other video applications as a way of keeping personal contact going. This has happened outside of work as people meet up with relatives, have drinks with friends and join in the pub quiz without leaving home. It’s also happened in work with WhatsApp groups chatting away, informal gatherings on Zoom and phone calls in between. We’ve learned which technologies are best, depending on the need.
Now is a good time to get the team together and talk about how well you are using the various technologies available. Have they substituted effectively for the normal meeting? Do they provide the same degree of collaboration? What is missing compared with sitting together? How are we avoiding isolation while working from home? And now that there may be a partial return to the workplace: how are we going to keep in touch with some people at home and some back in the office?
Now we’ve learned how to work remotely, let’s continue to use technology in creative new ways to improve the quality of work.