I have been thinking about the recent developments all weekend, because things change by the hour and we have no idea where this is going to take us. Conferences are canceled, travel bans are executed (either mandatory or voluntary) and it it's time to prepare for alternative ways to engage.
Remote Positions Help to Ease Traffic
Given, that I am a professional who has worked remote for decades, I don’t feel the pain as much as others might. I have also made a case for remote positions for a long time, as I feel that in today’s business environment it is not necessary to be in an office every single day. Where I live in Connecticut, the turnpike I-95 is one of the most congested areas in the country, who knows how much time people spend sitting in traffic instead of being productive.
Yes, there are some professions that require people to be in a physical location. But many really don’t. I have had client engagements for years without ever having met the person, it worked really well. It actually forces one to be more strategic, to listen between the lines and to bring your skills rather than your personality, only.
How much Time do we Waste in Office Environments?
Don’t get me wrong. I like meeting people as much as the next person and really enjoy human interaction, but I have found that whenever I visit clients on site there is a lot of time spent on chitter-chatter and personal conversations. Nothing wrong with that, but I have also observed a lot of wasted time in office environments that could have been spent on meaningful tasks. It’s human. When we walk by somebody’s desk, we engage and share. It takes more effort to pick up the phone and do the same.
Meetings Without an Agenda or Projected Outcome
I have also noticed that companies that don't have a remote culture schedule a lot more meetings without a set agenda or a projected goal. This happens less when there is a remote culture in place. You don't see people hanging on the phone for hours discussing things that could be wrapped up in 30 minutes.
If there is one positive development coming out of this unsettling and uncertain situation, it is a way for companies to understand that remote engagement can be efficient and effective. As long as there is a framework in place where employees can communicate easily, where tele and video conferencing is part of the culture and systems are designed for collaboration, it should be fine.
Establish Strong Communication Platforms
I know many companies where that’s the case, but many more where remote communication is an afterthought.
This will have to change now, and hopefully it will be here to stay. Productivity is not measured by presence in an office and people should not be rewarded based on it.
This is a wake-up call and maybe we will finally move into the 21st century and utilize technology to be connected without physical presence.