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3 remote working lessons we should take to 2021

Change is inevitable, but who would have expected a global shift to remote work overnight? Close to a year on, and it’s a new reality. 

While the initial transition was tough, organizations quickly began to eye the benefits of access to a wider distributed talent pool, better productivity among staff, and a lack of physical office overheads. Technology is an enabler and for many business leaders, it just doesn’t make sense to go back to old ways now.

But that’s not to say things can’t be improved. As we head toward 2021 and a further embedding of hybrid and remote working practices, there are lessons we can take from the last year that can ensure remote work operations remain robust, effective, and viable.

Invest in IT infrastructure 

Effective remote working starts with the basics — a fast, stable, and secure internet connection, and an ergonomic home office set up. Many firms already well on the path to digitization accelerated the roll-out of cloud solutions they were already using, whether that was Zoom, Salesforce, or otherwise. 

However, a large number of businesses have had to learn quickly — the IT infrastructure of an organization has a huge influence over its readiness to go remote. Security of data should be a primary consideration for any business allowing colleagues to work off-site. This means companies must ensure IT security practices are up to date, from the very basics of password management right through to the adaptation of security policies.

Taking security seriously 

Security concerns add a layer of complexity to the technological side of remote working and can have serious consequences, especially when employees are not aware of safe practices or switch to unauthorized tools to get their work done. Adopting a strong yet practical approach isn’t easy. Doing it right requires giving employees the tools they need to be productive while managing data confidentiality and access. 

Businesses mostly must have learned by now that making it easy for employees to comply with security requirements while investing in strong safeguards, is the best way forward.

Stay agile and expect surprises

Since no one can be sure when this crisis will be over, by the time the world moves past the pandemic, there may have been lasting effects on the organization’s bottom line and business operations. The industry, market, and economy may also have undergone various changes by then. Put simply, organizations should expect surprises and remain flexible. By now, businesses must think of ways to remain agile so as to maintain business continuity in the long term. It’s possible that many large-scale organizations will continue to have hundreds or thousands of their employees working remotely in the post-Covid-19 era in order to cut costs.

Businesses also should be ready to recognize what isn’t working and changing it fast. Leadership teams that continuously learn, actively identify best practices, and rapidly set up mechanisms to share ideas across the organization tend to be most successful in the long run. Done right, remote working can boost productivity and morale; done badly, it can breed inefficiency, damage work relationships, and demotivate employees.