The business world has spent the last few months engaged in the greatest remote work experiment so far — prompted by Covid-19. And while the pandemic is undoubtedly not a good thing, some good things have come from it, namely how we see remote work and how we perform it.
Like Twitter, some companies already have plans in place to switch to remote work before the pandemic and only had to move the timeline up a bit to meet their needs. Others have not been as prepared.
For example, Netflix, in the words of Founder Reed Hastings, will not remain remote. He sees it as a hurdle to the way his company works best — through debates and discussions. However, even he believes that when (and if) normalcy resumes, the company will work four days in the office and one day from home.
But, for better or worse, the business world has learned some important lessons in these past few months. Here are some of those lessons.
Company Culture is Extremely Important
While we know remote work can be productive, several pre-COVID studies conducted in the past and confirmed by the pandemic proves the importance of company culture. Significantly how it affects morale and motivation — and with it, how efficient people are.
Of course, keeping the culture alive when people aren’t in the same location isn’t the most straightforward job — but it’s a necessary one. For example, take Box: a company that managed to carry their company culture practices to the new work reality. Instead of meeting in person, they took to meeting on Slack or Zoom — and not just for work.
As the company claims, they are experimenting with having lunch together through video calls or having video conferences so that people can hang out and interact informally. This can help people unwind and talk to some like-minded individuals who understand their issues or wins.
They also encourage turning the camera on so people can see each other’s body language and feel more connected to each other.
At the same time, they introduced new chats for the team on all sorts of topics — from home office setups to what people are eating for lunch to pets. They have also provided outstanding support to all of their employees with children by providing useful recommendations and being understanding overall.
All of this shows just how influential the company culture is and how it can help people feel like a part of something good, something bigger — and thus, improve their results.
Automation Is Helpful
Remote work isn’t the only thing that has been delayed for years but adopted quickly when the pandemic started — automation had the same fate. Companies have always been reluctant to use their full potential due to old misconceptions. However, when Covid-19 took over the world, pushing paper became almost impossible, and automation proved to be a worthy replacement.
One of the best examples of this is the new partnership between VirPack and Mortgage Builder — enabling customers to categorize and index their documents without having to do it manually. This form of automation helps streamline otherwise tedious processes. It creates a much better experience for both sides of the equation.
The pandemic has taught us that automation can be an effective way to make the processes smoother and the timelines shorter. Mistakes are reduced this way, and deadlines are met on time.
Communication Is Key
Communication has always been important — but never more so than during the pandemic. Of course, communicating through video calls or messages isn’t the same as speaking in person. In an office setting, you can easily approach anyone, ask them for help, consult on a project, inform them of a delay, or simply chat about work.
To communicate with someone in a remote work setting, you have to make a deliberate decision — even to say hi.
In that way, remote work has taught us the importance of small-talk (though sometimes also how to lose it for better efficiency). Small talk keeps us from feeling isolated and alone — and companies have been fantastic at creating an office atmosphere through various exercises.
Just the same, this has also been a time to learn to be efficient — turn off the noise of notifications and focus on deep work.
The pandemic has certainly been a challenging time — and we don’t know if it’s over yet — but the lessons we learned from it have brought something good to the business world. Focus on community, adopting new tools and processes, and learning how to tune out and embrace the focus on the task at hand. Many companies plan to keep these lessons and apply them further — whether they plan on staying remote or not.