Working From Home is The New Normal

Insights
Author: Mike Oitzman, Founder & Publisher, The Mobile Robot Guide

The world is upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s likely that you find yourself working from home at the moment. Is this your first time working from home for an extended period of time? Or are you an experienced “remote warrior”?

My prediction is that working from home is the new normal. Until this moment in time, most companies looked down on working from home, primarily from the perspective of productivity. HR departments didn’t know how to setup and manage a remote workforce.

However, as an experienced “work from home” worker, I am excited that the barriers to working from home have not only come tumbling down, but have literally been obliterated. One of the things that Meg Whitman destroyed at HP was a strong culture of productivity of a remote workforce. When she made the decision to pull everyone back to the office, I (and many others) decided that it was time to move on.

We still have multiple months to get through before there’s a return to anything normal, but now, organizations will adapt and evolve. It’s time to figure out how to be productive at home in preparation for a world where working from home is an accepted option.

Companies will finally learn that the best model is to hire the best talent, regardless of where that talent lives.

Working with the best talent worldwide

I’ve worked from home with various high-tech organizations since 2004 when I moved my family out of San Francisco Bay Area to a more affordable and rural place in Northern California. I’ve still been able to work for some of the leading high-tech companies in the market while connected to a globally distributed workforce. As a product manager, I’ve worked remotely with engineering teams in France, Israel and India. I’ve managed a field team of solutions architects and supported a worldwide sales team. Now, as a consultant and publisher, running an online publication while collaborating with remote resources and companies all over the planet is as awesome as it gets.

Use Collaboration Tools

Technology has evolved so much in the last 15 years. Cloud-based storage and document sharing make it simple to work with teams scattered around the world in different time zones. Webcams are now embedded in every cell phone and laptop, making it simple to hop on a video chat with co-workers. Every coffee shop is WiFi-enabled and it literally takes seconds to connect to a high-speed Internet.

New start-ups are popping up with innovative collaborative tools, which make interactions simpler than ever. Security protocols have matured and software tools are now designed to be accessed anywhere. There is simply no excuse that working from home is less productive than being in the office.

Find a workspace with a door

The hardest aspect of working from home may be finding a productive space to work, where you aren’t interrupted by the distractions of home. And true, that may be especially difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic with kids home from school and demanding attention. However, my recommendation is to setup a space that is for work only. We bought our current house because of two things: it was the only high-speed Internet in the area (15 years ago) and it had a finished office space behind the garage. My commute is 30 seconds from the kitchen to my unattached office space.

Your value is in what you produce

One of the important things to realize as a remote worker is that your value isn’t in simply “showing up” everyday. It’s in what you produce: What did you create today? What piece of code did you write/test/check in? How many sales calls did you make? How many sales did you close?

You will need to be proactive in both committing to what you will produce and THEN communicating what you completed. Not just to your boss, but also to the others who depend on your production.

So the good news is that you have those commute hours back. How are you going to make use of them?

Virtual events become the new standard

I predict that virtual events are going to be the new normal when this COVID-19 thing is over. If you can connect with customers, learn about new product releases and basically get business done without being out of the office for a week, then everybody wins. There will be additional investment and innovation in this space as event companies evolve to produce and deliver virtual events.

Business Travel becomes less essential

The airlines have devolved to become almost hostile to business travel over the last ten years. With less legroom, more crowded flights and generally cranky travelers, business travel is no longer any fun. We will see several airlines fail in the next three to six months, but I don’t believe that we should bail them out because there won’t be the need for the travel capacity when this pandemic is over.

Business is still happening albeit without travel. Business leaders are going to quickly realize that you can do a substantial amount of work without having to travel so often. It will still be important to visit clients for face-to-face and negotiations on big deals, but we’re going to see a lot less business travel when this is over.

A new world order

Unfortunately many things are going to change in the next six months. Some of which can’t be predicted yet. However, I predict that there is a lot of room for innovation in the digital interactions that are becoming the new normal. There will be business failures both large and small, but from those ashes will come opportunity for a new way of doing business.

And the opportunity for “remote work” to finally get the respect that it deserves.


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