5 key takeaways from COVID-19 about remote work

When we had high hopes for a bright new decade, none of us imagined that millions of workers around the world would trade their office cubicles for kitchen tables. It’s been an unprecedented year that’s prompted many sudden and unexpected transformations in the workplace. 

We didn’t think we’d pivot completely to online business meetings or that we’d only discuss work projects by phone or online chat. We had no idea that trainings and events would turn 100% digital or that it’d be a year devoid of business travel.

Attitudes about how and where we work—and the practices covering how we get work done—changed overnight. Businesses had to adapt fast—and they did. These changes will likely stay with us beyond the pandemic.

Eighty-four percent of US companies say they’ll offer permanent remote work after the pandemic passes. Others plan to implement a hybrid arrangement of working partly at home and partly in the office. Having conducted what’s turned out to be a vast work-from-home experiment, businesses have learned that it works.

Here are five lessons the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us about remote work:

1. Remote workers are productive

Without the distractions of a physical office, workers get more done. According to McKinsey, 41% of people working remotely say they’re more productive than they were in the office, and 28% say they’re just as productive. 

Businesses are also seeing healthy work practices that may remain after COVID-19 departs. Fifty-three percent report being more trusting of their employees, 49% are offering more flexible work hours, and 38% have virtual teams working collaboratively across multiple locations and departments.  

2. Cloud technology is essential in times of crisis

We’ve truly learned the importance of technology during COVID. In a Cisco study, more than half of respondents said they are now using technology that was available to them pre-pandemic but which they had ignored or rejected. Sixty-seven percent reported the pandemic accelerated their adoption of tools to take advantage of cloud-based communications, collaboration, and productivity.

Digital tools that let employees collaborate have become the new normal, and we’ll continue to rely on them after the pandemic has passed, especially video conferencing.

3. Social interactions enable collaboration

Working remotely has shown us the importance of social interaction. Sixty-four percent of study respondents report that not being able to socialize around the watercooler and in the lunchroom makes teamwork a challenge. 

They report that, instead, they’re using digital tools for social video conference meetups (67%) to communicate on social chat channels( (54%) and to hold interactive competitions (36%).

4. Employees’ personal lives matter

Remote work during a pandemic has taught us it’s important to consider employees’ personal lives. Not everyone suddenly forced to work at home has a quiet, organized home office without distractions. Some have children at home doing remote schooling. Many partners or roommates are also working at home. 

It’s a lot to handle, but managers can help by checking in regularly, often without a specific agenda, and asking how it’s going. Allow employees to adjust their work schedules to accommodate personal or family needs. Consider offering an extra PTO day for your employees to get some needed rest and relaxation. 

Some employees work more hours at home than they did at the office—remind them to stop at the end of their workday and put the laptop away.

5. Importance of business agility 

We’ve learned that companies need to be adaptive, flexible, and creative in an environment that changes quickly. 

Companies have addressed employees’ needs by creating COVID-19 crisis management teams, changing office rules, and adapting or creating work-from-home policies. They’ve transitioned their suddenly remote office staff to virtual tools and made other changes as the situation evolves. 

Preparing for the future

While we don’t know what the future holds, we know that business won’t return to normal. The pandemic disrupted our work lives in unprecedented ways, and businesses are planning for a future of work that looks vastly different than it did before COVID. – Read more

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State of Remote Work

How employees across the US feel about working remotely in a post- COVID-19 world, their new workplace expectations and what employers need to know to recruit and retain top talent.

2020 is the year the world went remote.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations around the world to quickly adapt to a new remote reality, in some cases for the first time, in the largest work-from-home shift ever. We’ve officially fast-tracked to the future of work.

Meetings suddenly became Zoom meetings, with video calls happening 50% more than before COVID-19. Not only did people embrace remote work, they have now grown to expect it. After six months of working from home full-time, we learned that one in two U.S workers won’t return to a job that doesn’t offer remote work as an option.

For Owl Labs’ 4th annual State of Remote Work report, we partnered with the leading remote analytics firm, Global Workplace Analytics, to learn more about the current state of remote work in 2020 and what lies ahead. We wanted to uncover remote work statistics and gather the current work from home trends to provide you with a comprehensive remote work benchmark report during COVID-19.

In this report, you’ll learn:

  • How people are adapting to remote work
  • How companies are handling the COVID-19 guidelines for telework
  • Current remote work statistics and trends
  • How the new work-from-anywhere movement affects lifestyle decisions
  • What leaders and companies should know to support today’s employees’ needs
  • How key findings from 2020 compare to the Owl Labs State of Remote Work Report from 2019

Executive Summary

In this survey, we learned that almost 70% of full time workers in the United States are working from home during COVID-19. While working remotely, individuals are facing a more difficult balance between home life and work, adapting new technology by leveraging video meetings, and staying productive in their home offices (or closets for 15% of survey respondents.) During COVID-19, there have been unexpected benefits and challenges—people are saving almost $500 per month on additional expenses, however, one in five reports working more hours per week during the pandemic.

Despite difficult circumstances for working remotely, 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, having the option to work from home would make them happier.

Leaders and managers: 80% of full-time workers expect to work from home at least three times per week after COVID-19 guidelines are lifted and companies and workspaces are able to re-open.

Remote Work Statistics and Trends During COVID-19

  1. Almost 70% of full-time workers in the U.S are working from home during COVID-19
  2. 1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after COVID-19
  3. 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, being able to work from home (WFH) would make them happier
  4. 75% of people are the same or more productive during COVID-19 while working from home
  5. In 2020, people are using video meetings 50% more than pre-COVID-19
  6. 1 in 2 people would move if they were able to WFH all or most of the time
  7. Working remotely saves 40 minutes daily on commute
  8. In 2020 after COVID-19, 80% expect to work from home at least 3x/week
  9. 1 in 5 people report working more during COVID-19
  10. Only 20-25% of companies pay or share the cost of home office equipment, furniture, cable, chair
  11. 80% agree that there should be one day a week with no meetings at all
  12. 81% of respondents think their employer will support remote work after COVID-19
  13. 23% of full-time employees are willing to take a pay cut of over 10% in order to work from home at least some of the time
  14. 44% did not find it necessary to get dressed up (think: clothing, hair, makeup) for a video meeting
  15. During COVID-19, on average, people are saving $479.20 per month

Table of Contents

Section 1 – Who They Are – Background and Demographics

Section 2 – Remote Work is the New Norm

Section 3 – Communication Reinvented (due to COVID-19)

Section 4 – COVID-19 Cautions

Section 5 – A New Era of Professionalism

Section 6 – Next Stop: Suburbia

Section 7 – Remote Work is the Preferred Way to Work

Section 8 – Remote Work Benefits: Employer Edition

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The 5 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Cloud Solutions

We believe there are many reasons to migrate your organisation’s applications to the cloud, not least of which are cost savings, streamlined operations, redeployment of resources, reskilling of your internal teams and talent retention.  

In this blog, I answer the five most common questions I get asked about moving applications to the cloud, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right thing for your organisation.  

1. Is it secure and where is my data? 

“Is it secure?”  is one of the most commonly asked questions about the cloud. But as the cloud has become universal in organisations, the nature of the question has changed. 

Every year, major cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft spend billions to make their cloud services stable, robust and secure. Security measures and compliance certifications are available for all to see, and Microsoft’s cloud offering is as secure as it gets in terms of compliance, governance and physical security.  

The result? Today, almost everyone accepts that the cloud is secure. The conversation now is less around how secure it is and more around data control. It’s essential that organisations understand where their data lives, where it may go and who can access it in order to feel comfortable with moving to the cloud. 

A lack of understanding around how the cloud works is a barrier to adoption for many organisations. In the UK, law firms are amongst some of the most cautious adopters of cloud solutions, largely because of questions about where confidential client data will reside and who can access it.  

There needs to be an understanding that, by its very nature, the cloud exists in multiple locations – and your data can too. Azure, for example, for resilience can have multiple copies of data in multiple locations. And this conversation isn’t always an IT-led discussion; it needs the business to decide in which country their data should be reside, and whether they are comfortable with it potentially leaving UK soil. The cloud gives customers choice here, different services having different options about where data is stored, but it’s important that well informed decisions are made in this regard. 

Organisations need to know what they are letting themselves in for and understand how data will be stored and accessed which needs a complex, but not impossible, discussion about trust and understanding. In our experience, anyone who truly understands the options and how the cloud works has been confident in making an informed decision based on facts not fear.  

2.  Will all my IT staff be out of work/redundant? 

Generally, there isn’t a direct correlation between adopting cloud services and IT staff being let go.  We prefer to see this as freeing up IT staff to focus on more strategic tasks. 

Whether they’re in retail, manufacturing, healthcare or any other sector, businesses are trying to be ‘the best’ and provide the best service to their customers. IT should enable them to do that. It should be a supporter and enabler for a business to do its job and operate at its highest level. And for organisations that are held back by inefficient, outdated IT systems, embracing the cloud is one way to make improvements. 

Few organisations today choose to use physical servers; they are costly, require office space and need people to maintain and manage them. Solutions like O365 and Exchange Online are making delivery of common IT services easier, better and lower cost, and like it or not, the requirement for on-premise skills will reduce as cloud adoption becomes the new norm. As IT evolves, the skillset of IT teams needs to evolve with it, or face being left behind.  – Read more