While many Americans started 2020 commuting to their jobs, the onset of a global pandemic quickly showed just as many that their jobs can be done from remote locations. As “stay-at-home” orders shut down state after state, extending a short-term change in the workplace environment from on-site to virtual, a lot of companies have realized that there may be some benefits to not having their employees return to the corporate office full-time. As the new “hybrid” working environment is making itself more popular, it’s very clear that there is an adjustment period for the company, the employees, and their families.
“Working from home” has long been a term associated with parents who want to stay home with their kids and make a little side money. However, this virtual working concept was already gaining popularity in the past few years as technology applications were created to help companies connect across the global, cutting down on travel, and ultimately costs. While workplaces were starting to see the benefits of having their workers move to a remote environment, most were not prepared to have to do so immediately in 2020-and it has been a rough adjustment for many. Now that states are opening back up, some organizations are starting a “hybrid” workplace concept, meaning they are having their employees work from home, and at the office.
We have talked to some of our colleagues and corporate clients about the ups and downs of switching to a remote/hybrid working environment, and asked them to share their personal insight as to how to navigate the obstacles and challenges, as well as the perks of having a home office for the first time. Here are some of their tips to help make your new “workplace” as productive and normal as your former office was.
- Establish your workspace in your home. Try to find a room separate from living, dining, or sleeping spaces so that you truly feel like you are in an office setting. Make sure your modem and router are both up to speed and that your wireless connection is strong enough for your occupational needs in your new office space. If you are lucky enough to have a door to your workspace, make sure your family members or roommates know that when the door is shut, you are not to be disturbed.
- Know your virtual communication applications. What programs will your company be using for team meetings and communications? Zoom? Webex? Find out what you will be using the most for teleconferencing and give yourself a quick tutorial so you don’t miss out on important information and events.
- Stay organized. If you are an employee that is having to learn the “hybrid” concept for the first time, organization will be key. Find a way to keep important files and notes electronically in a shared drive or database so that you are not constantly moving piles of papers to and from your work environments. Have everything on your laptop ready to go so that wherever you have to be logistically, you still have access to everything you need for meetings.
- Create a schedule. There will be times when you are going to be required to be in the office for in-person meetings. Work with your supervisors and colleagues to find common days and times to be in the office, when necessary. As the whole purpose of social distancing is to limit contact, be sure that you are only including the people who absolutely need to be sitting in the conference room and any others can be brought in from their remote locations.
- Plan for changes in your salary/benefits. If a car allowance is part of your monthly income, you need to be prepared that the amount you’re currently getting may be reduced or eliminated altogether. I mean, you’re not driving to work full-time anymore, so why should the company be compensating for you to do so? As our economy has taken a huge hit due to the global pandemic, more and more companies will be doing anything they can to cut costs to make up for their financial losses. Headcount and benefits are usually the top costs in many organizations, so these will be the first areas to see cuts.
- Be prepared for the future. If your company doesn’t need you to come into the office on a full-time, they may also realize that they don’t need you to work full-time anymore. Then, eventually you may not even be needed part-time. Meaning…you just got laid off…permanently. Start planning now for a potential job change..today. Reduce your spending and find ways to stockpile some cash, should you find yourself unemployed. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile so you are ready to hit the ground running if you need to start looking for a new job. Network amongst your peer group, family members, and colleagues to see what is out there in your industry and beyond. While some companies are going under, there are just as many thriving and adding to their workforce.
As we continue to try to live and work during these “uncertain times” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, being prepared for the unknown will be key to surviving. The new “hybrid” work environment concept that has been a direct result of what’s going on in the world will be a win for some and a huge loss for others. Hopefully these tips will help to ensure that you are one of the “winners” in 2020.