By Eric Johnson
Further into the future as the pandemic has waned for some time, idea of flex work as a normal aspect of business operations may become permanent as organizations grow accustomed to the cost savings and flexibility offered to workers. With several considerations, organizations can plan around the culture shift and assist employees by creating purposeful guidelines and norms for the future.
Currently many individuals in offices may have their own conference number that they can use to create conference calls through their own setup. As we move into the stable future, we expect individuals to have a personal video call conference number or click-link as well. Organizations should develop training around the technical / advanced use of video conferencing, etiquette, safety, and other elements to ensure that employees have appropriate understanding of how to efficiently use video at a higher frequency, and that there is a clear set of expectations from the organization.
This may be permissible through the current conferencing tools within the organization, as a feature increase, or may require a brand-new vendor to meet the needs of the organization.
Home Environments and Setup
Everyone understands that working from home comes with a certain level of distraction, significantly correlated with the increase in number of household members. Consider providing employees with training on how to handle these distractions and offer forums for people to share best practices. The risk may decrease somewhat as children are consistently back in school, however if a spouse is working from home as well, boundaries will need to be created to develop a consistent environment that supports the work needed to be completed.
Additionally, IT may want to develop a set of guidelines from a home networking perspective to give employees guidance on bandwidth needs, security needs, and other technical components to perform their work. For example if an employee has a low bandwidth IT service, they may need to increase their plan in order to achieve the bandwidth necessary to provide video, or if their internet is spotty and frequently disconnects, they may need to change carriers. There may be situations even where wired Internet is not available, and the employee solely relies on satellite or even cellular Wi-Fi hotspots. Organizations will need to consider these home limitations and may potentially partner up with a carrier to offer discounted services if possible.
Work Environments and Required Attendance
While more employees work from home, there will always be a need for a work location. management needs to identify the times or situations where employees will need to be in the office. Doing this now will provide the opportunities to understand what those situations are and to have discussions with employees to get their feedback and provide input. Management should also consider the possibility of satellite office locations such as WeWork or Regis that could possibly give employees an office environment with reduced travel times if the concentration of employees is high enough to warrant the business decision to do so.
As the country has been thrust into a sudden work from home situation, many of the ways in which working from home has evolved has been a function of individual approaches thus far. Moving into a fully post pandemic world, organizations can use this time too shape what that future will look like so that they are able to hit the ground running once it arrives.
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