With the rise of COVID-19, many businesses scrambled and managed to quickly re-deploy their teams into work-from-home operations.

But was it a blessing or a curse?

The last few months, though riddled with hardships, taught some very valuable lessons, especially for businesses. Companies across the world quickly realized remote work was more than just a concept, it’s a preferred way of life. With productivity and quality of work on the rise, managers and leaders across all industries found themselves wondering if the temporary work-from-home model is one to consider full time. Most agree, yes.

The perks of remote working are endless: lack of commute, more time with family, and flexible schedules are just a few of the benefits gained when omitting a full-time office workspace. In addition, employees feel a sense of ease when permitted to pick their own working environment, choosing between their homes, local cafes, or even in the great outdoors. The trend of remote working is an exciting one, unleashing a variety of opportunities to better work-life balance, as well as internal professional growth. Though most employees and businesses alike quickly adapted to the change, some fell behind, implementing inadvisable practices meant to better manage from afar, but instead resulted in disgruntled staff and high overturn.

The power (or lack thereof) of big brother

Without the traditional office space, managers have hustled to find ways to monitor their staff’s activity and time spent throughout the work week. Rather than opening the doors of communication, some have required employees to download computer tracking software, designed to report on the duration of tasks assigned, keyboard and mouse monitoring, and even in some cases, GPS tracking. Extreme programs download videos of employee’s screens and even enable the computer’s webcam to take spontaneous photos, aiding in the validated proof that company time is not being stolen. The new outbreak of such programs raises the question of what is fair, and what is downright intrusive. Instead of employees being trusted with their time management and responsibilities, they are being surveilled and left to feel unreliable.

Honest communication to build a better meritocracy

Another drawback managers face is the lack of communication in a remote space. Supervisors should not only plan weekly calls with their team to get updates on projects and share feedback but should also plan team-building calls whether in the form of a digital happy hour, game night, or general “water cooler” conversation. Constant communication builds trust and inspires loyalty, far more than any tracking service will.

In addition to communication, executives need to facilitate a running plan on expectations for remote work. Perhaps in the old office, “end of day” meant 5 p.m., traditionally when standard business hours end. Today, remote employees can reroute their schedules by evaluating when they’re productivity peaks during the day. Supervisors should remain flexible when remote managing, noting the quality of work is what matters, not the time frame of one’s day.

Get your team on the cloud

IT departments have been tremendously impacted by the remote working shift, as the profession’s livelihood rests on securing worker’s with efficient and high-quality programs and resources. The architecture of a simple and secure high-performance environment is critical as staff is no longer surrounded by the necessary infrastructure as before. Relocating company servers and software to the cloud allows for seamless connections and transfers to be made, thus permitting any IT professional to address security concerns or connectivity issues without stepping foot in someone’s home. Applications and data housed in the cloud ensure remote work is done securely and with minimal issues.

There is still a lot to learn in regard to working remotely, as this new reality is a big change for some. The important takeaway is that a global pandemic taught the business world that change is good. It challenges, it provokes inspiration, and helps people reflect on their professional goals. Though some may take longer than others to completely fathom the wonders of working from home, one thing is for certain – work isn’t somewhere we go, it’s something we do.

As Global CEO, Jed Ayres leads IGEL’s seasoned team of executive leaders as the company works to align with the world’s most prominent cloud providers to transform end user computing by simplifying and securing the cloud-delivery of all needed applications and resources.

Businesses cloud computing stock photo by Stokkete/Shutterstock