Categories
Work Environment

Working From Home Affecting Team Collaboration, What’s the Solution?

Have you seen a difference in team collaboration due to working from home? If productivity is lacking because of this, then learn more about the solution below.

 

The benefits of remote work are beginning to drop off, and some of its long-term issues – especially in the face of poor and rushed implementation – are beginning to shine through. It’s no secret that the current crisis has pushed countless businesses into panic mode to adapt and overcome.

 

However, that initial rush of productivity has since passed, and many businesses and employees are reckoning with the long-term impact of social isolation, poor virtual team cohesion, indirect collaboration, and the impact of sheer physical distance.

 

Many businesses rely on the cohesion between individual talents, coming together to collaborate, brainstorm, and apply both spontaneous ideas and careful plans.

 

Working from home has shown to greatly affect this collaborative spirit, putting a hamper on both individual and team productivity in certain cases, and greatly impacting the overall economy.

 

For businesses worried about the safety and health implications of a full return to the office, giving up entirely on remote work is simply not possible. So, what’s the solution?

 

How Working From Home is Impacting Teams

 

The most immediate and measurable impact that working from home has had on many businesses is a general drop in long-term productivity, not necessarily due to fewer hours or lack of oversight, but more directly due to:

 

 

While teams can function remotely, many teams cannot thrive remotely, and that distinction is critical. Furthermore, the impact of these issues is felt more strongly over time as they can lead to eroding organizational health. In addition, a drop in employee engagement.

 

Individuals within a company simply feel less like they’re part of something greater, and struggle to identify and communicate with their coworkers, and the organization in general.

 

Another issue to highlight is the long-term impact of a so-called “lost year” on the global economy. Not only in terms of measurable metrics, but also in terms of lost ideas and a slump in innovation as talented individuals lose their jobs, cannot capitalize on ideas, suffer from reduced productivity due to at-home distractions, or simply never develop them to begin with due to a loss of in-person collaboration. This impact may be felt throughout the rest of the decade.

 

Addressing Team Collaboration in Remote Work

 

It’s important to stress that there is no real replacement for in-person collaboration and office face time. Remote working tools may help businesses stay afloat and keep their workers employed, but remain a poor substitute. On the other hand, a full return to the office isn’t feasible just yet, due to the very real dangers posed by the continued risk of infection in densely populated workspaces.

 

A balanced approach might be one of the only alternatives, wherein offices are sparsely reoccupied, while companies leverage both critical information technology as well as empty and existing shared workspaces. This is to help their workers take turns in a step-by-step return to more in-office collaboration, while continuing to benefit from the option of remote work.

 

Some companies may never see their workers totally return to the old system, and that may be a good thing, as it can give certain employees the ability to work from wherever they feel most comfortable, cutting down on time wasted in commutes without losing out on the benefits of regular team collaboration and social interaction.

 

Embracing Coworking During This Crisis

 

Coworking will play an important role in implementing a workspace policy wherein companies can facilitate in-office interaction and collaboration without putting their workers at risk.

 

Companies might rotate some employees through available and nearby spaces while keeping others remote, enabling in-office collaboration through a variety of spaces without excessively packing a single workspace with a dangerous number of workers.

 

This will be especially important for onboarding new employees and helping those who thrive the most via collaborative and interactive work, rather than individual and isolated work. Work styles are a measurable and important part of organizing and managing a team, whether remotely or at the office, and certain employees do better in a group than others.

 

There’s a clear trend towards wishing for a return to the office, although there’s little consensus on how exactly to approach this return safely. Different hygiene concepts may minimize danger, but not eliminate it outright. Some industries are far more at risk than others, and different regions and industries require different rules and considerations.

 

What is uniquely applicable to everyone at this time, however, is a need for adaptability and flexibility in the face of an evolving situation. Even now that the development and release of a viable vaccine draws near, there’s no practical way to tell when things will be back to “normal”, or what that might look like.

 

 

Final Thought

 

Concepts such as social distancing, more rigorous cleaning protocols, and a greater reliance on digital collaboration and communications tools may be here to stay. We may need to embrace terms such as “de-densification” and move away from the cramped open office model, towards a more modular, safer, divided, and shared floor plan.

 

While it’s clear that a 100 percent remote model isn’t viable for most businesses, let alone every business, companies may very well embrace completely new work-from-anywhere policies. This is in order to keep their main offices sparsely populated, and help protect employees.

 

Businesses, particularly startups, will see critical office space costs continue to rise as the economy reopens and recovers from the virus, and may have very well realized that some employees suffer the most from working remotely – while others seem to thrive on it, and do quite well spending most of the work week at home.

 

Finding ways to cater to individual employee needs while maintaining and improving team cohesion and collaborative efficacy may be one of the biggest and most important challenges to deal with throughout the coming year. Shared workspaces, alongside a suite of collaboration tools and new concepts, will remain a big part of the conversation.

 


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How to Stay Productive in a New Working World

Categories
Work Environment

How to Stay Productive in a New Working World

Living in a new working world has been so difficult to adjust to that it interferes with our focus on work. We’ve got a few solutions for you. Read further on how to stay productive.

 

The return to work is not without its hurdles. Despite promises of a brighter future with functioning vaccines in the works, it’s clear that our growing and ultra-dense society must learn to adjust to the ever-present danger of highly infectious diseases. The workplace and its commute are the most important battlegrounds in the fight against COVID-19. We can’t survive without a working economy, yet need to embrace new policies to adhere strictly to evolving public health rules, and adapt to nature.

 

However, we aren’t machines. We are people, and people get sick, and people get worried about getting sick. It’s difficult to remain positive during these times, let alone productive, even with an economy that continues to slowly climb out of a deep recession.

 

While some of that worry might not go away anytime soon, we can work on reassuring ourselves and shifting towards more optimism by investing in workplace strategies that keep us and our coworkers safe, minimizing unnecessary transit and contact, and homing in on our passions.

 

Get a Grasp on the Rules

 

Uncertainty continues to be at the root of many of our fears, so reducing uncertainty through clear and effective messaging, simple rules, and widespread access to information possible should be a top priority for any business seeking productivity gains.

 

For most workers, this means getting a clear checklist of changes and guidelines from HR currently in place during the pandemic to eliminate potential infections at work, and reviewing what both OSHA and the CDC have to say about workplace necessities for combatting COVID.

 

The only way to fight uncertainty is to be a little more certain. And by listening to authorities and experts, and putting into play data-driven disease control, you can begin to feel a little more in-control, and get a clearer picture around how you can help fight the virus and avoid getting sick. This usually means:

 

  • Wearing a mask and other levels of personal protective gear when appropriate.
  • Frequent and increased sanitization.
  • Lower elevator capacity.
  • Stair etiquette.
  • Private offices and strict social and professional distancing.
  • Access to fresh air and natural ventilation (whenever appropriate, given the incoming winter).
  • Other forms of tracking and controlling indoor ventilation and air quality.

 

By knowing what can and can’t be done to slow the virus’ spread, knowing the effort your coworkers and employers go through to keep everyone safe, and putting these guidelines to work yourself, you can help ease some of these COVID-related fears and feel more confident in your own capacity to work.

 

 

Consider Alternatives to the Office

 

Not everyone has access to a private vehicle or a sensible bike or footpath to the office. In cities and states where you’d rather avoid public transportation due to a recent surge in cases, or simply don’t feel safe commuting, as well as in cases where the office is (relatively) full as is, it’s important to consider useful alternatives.

 

Many companies are continuing to give certain employees the option to work from home, but many others are embracing work-from-anywhere policies, which includes leveraging coworking spaces to provide an alternative working environment for employees to flock to when the main office is out of reach, or already manned by enough people.

 

Coworking spaces have grown to adapt to the virus by providing isolated and safe private offices, roving cleaning crews, and mandated professional distancing rules, giving companies an option for employees to return to a productive working environment without breaking social distancing rules and endangering workers through an open or limited workspace, or asking them to continue working from home at a limited capacity.

 

A New Digital Embrace

 

As we continue to explore safe options in the return to physical workspaces, online tools will remain vital, not only for enabling collaboration and communication between remote workers and the main office, but for enabling cooperation between different satellite or coworking offices as well.

 

There will be a continued interest in de-densifying the office to minimize or eliminate lengthy commutes and stop the spread of the virus, so ensuring that individual teams can stay in contact with one another at all times and seamlessly cooperate is important.

 

Even within the same office space, professional distancing means you still can’t just pop over to a coworker’s station or office and begin a head-to-head discussion. We will continue to send documents over the cloud rather than passing flash drives, we will continue to communicate largely over instant messaging.

 

The benefits of being in an office, even if spaced apart, are immediately obvious – it’s a much more productive environment, and you can continue to collaborate and give each other a shout over a distance. But virtual tools will remain important indefinitely, especially as they continue to improve in usefulness and scope.

 

Outside of virtual solutions, it may be a good idea to invest in tools and activities to help you feel more at ease in a COVID world.

 

For example: buzzing bracelets that go off when you’re too close to a coworker, ergonomic hands-free options for opening and closing doors and using keypads, hosting daily or weekly meetings out under the open sky and in fresh air, doing creative or physical exercises together with coworkers around the country to improve mood and productivity, and more.

 

Find Your Support System

 

Our productivity doesn’t measure our worth, but it can be a measure of our overall wellbeing and satisfaction. The more stressed we are, the worse we tend to perform, especially when the pressure is overwhelming and not the kind that produces effective results or facilitates growth.

 

We can do a lot to care for ourselves in our own time, but a significant factor in our wellbeing is our access to healthy social interactions, and support among family and friends. Take the time to be with your loved ones, organize virtual or safe outdoor activities with friends, read a book or two, join professional networks to discuss your worries and celebrate your successes, and prioritize your mental wellbeing.

 

If this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we need one another, and that stress and social isolation can do a real number on both our health and productivity.

 

Categories
Work Environment

7 Tips to Being a Successful Remote Manager

Are you still figuring out the ins and outs of being a successful remote manager? To assist, below is a helpful guide with detailed tips to consider and practice.

 

Over the course of the COVID crisis, record numbers of Americans are working from home. While those numbers have gone down as some return to the office, many teams continue to operate largely via remote work. Some companies have even shifted entirely towards a work-from-home model.

 

Meanwhile, many others indicate that they would like to preserve the option to work from home even after the pandemic has ended. And many companies seem receptive to changes in how they structure their workplace and work-from-anywhere policies.

 

Managing these remote teams has been a unique challenge for many project and team leaders. If you’re still worried about helping your workers reach their greatest potential while working remotely, here are seven tips you can leverage to improve productivity and continue to make the most of this difficult situation.

 

1. Learn to Motivate Remotely (Through Tracking Achievements and Visual Progress)

 

Motivation is at an all-time low, and burnouts are at an all-time high. Keeping teams on-the-ball and helping individual workers manage their own health and productivity can be exceptionally challenging. And at times, managing a team remotely can feel like being blind and deaf to the needs and struggles of your individual team members.

 

The first step to effectively motivating your workers is by opening channels of communication and keeping tabs on how everyone is doing individually. Encourage team members to start the day with a group chat or get into a daily or weekly call to get a feel for how everyone is feeling. Keep in mind the importance of having one-on-one face time, especially when discussing more sensitive or personal issues with a worker as they pertain to their work.

 

Aside from offering a greater number of options for communication, a great way to motivate workers is by being transparent about how a team is doing. Rather than trying to motivate through punishing deadlines or lackluster rewards, consider implementing visual scoreboards, project progress trackers, and visual milestones to help keep everyone’s spirits up. And remind them of how much they’ve accomplished in a short time by coordinating their efforts and collaborating remotely.

 

2. Keep All Members in the Loop (and Schedule Daily Check-Ins)

 

Part of making sure everyone has equal and transparent access to how a project is going is making sure everyone’s in the loop. That means making sure every project member or team member is on the same platform, using the same communications tools, and logging their work hours and achievements, respectively.

 

You don’t have to micromanage or hound your workers to see progress. Competitive and achievement-oriented individuals will respond well to visual indicators of how well they’re doing individually or as a group. And everyone else will feel encouraged to give it their all as they see how their fellow team members are performing. Daily check-ins with the team also give you a chance to discuss metrics and praise exceptional progress or give out group objectives for the day.

 

3. Get Personal (and Enable Casual Conversation)

 

There’s always a time and place for one-on-one conversations, especially in today’s climate where it’s likely that a worker needs reassurance that they can privately talk to their manager or leader and request deadline adjustments, time off, or other considerations in order to preserve mental health and improve performance in the long-term.

 

One-on-one remote conversations between workers and managers are also important for bringing up and discussing issues that aren’t pertinent or appropriate in a group setting and can greatly help motivate and single out workers who need additional help, or are particularly isolated by their personal situation.

 

 

4. Avoid Social Isolation (Through Virtual Interaction)

 

One of the consequences of continued social distancing and quarantining during the pandemic is social isolation – many of us haven’t been able to visit friends or family as often as we usually do, are confined to much smaller spaces than we’re used to, and may generally experience a much greater sense of isolation than ever before.

 

This can also make remote workers feel isolated from their teams and companies, and impact performance. Virtual and remote interaction and quick, easy, convenient communication is important to reducing this feeling of social isolation, but it need not always be in the context of work.

 

Helping workers feel connected to the outside world by encouraging them to continue interacting with coworkers the way they might usually do in an office setting – by having virtual watercooler environments, including dedicated chatrooms or virtual teambuilding exercises, from daily stretches and exercise breaks to video games – can help.

 

5. Encourage a Dedicated Workspace (and Leverage Coworking Spaces)

 

While remote work has caused many to work longer hours than expected, part of that might be to make up for the perceived lack of productivity caused by the distractions of busy day-to-day household.

 

Homes are rarely an ideal space for concentrated work, and it’s difficult for many to carve out a dedicated workspace in an already cramped living environment. Even now as schools and workspaces continue to open, finding a quiet place to work away from the office remains difficult.

 

Coworking spaces can play a significant role here in helping main offices de-densify and focus on maintaining social distancing rules, while providing a productive work environment for many remote workers who cannot concentrate at home, or cannot afford to create their own dedicated workspace.

 

6. Don’t Micromanage (and Measure Through Accomplishments)

 

Remote managers who tend to fear the push towards a remote workspace are worried that a lack of control and oversight will lead to plummeting levels of productivity, so they’re drawn towards productivity applications and measures designed to micromanage and effectively spy on workers.

 

However, these solutions are barely solutions, as they usually only serve to erode trust in a company’s management, create friction and resentment between employers and employees, and bring productivity down. Instead of micromanaging, seek to motivate productivity through transparent metrics, healthy competition, and recognition.

 

7. Above All, Trust Your Team as a Remote Manager

 

Trust is an important aspect in any relationship, and it’s especially important in a work relationship. If you can convey your trust in your team members to them, they will reward you by aiming to meet and exceed your expectations – especially if you can give them the sense that they aren’t just working for you, but with you.

 

Categories
Office Space

How Will Coworking Help Build Corporate Sustainability?

Coworking spaces provide many benefits, but did you know it can help build corporate sustainability as well? Read more below for helpful details and information you’ll need to know for business growth.

 

The definition of corporate sustainability has altered contemporaneously to the coronavirus. A sustainable business must not only live in harmony with its environment, reduce its impact on climate, and ensure a balance between increasing stakeholder value and upholding critical social, cultural, and ethical standards, but also find a way to minimize the risks associated with continuing to do business during an ongoing pandemic. We are in uncharted waters, facing a challenge with no parallel in living memory.

 

The impact of this virus is not to be understated. Not only have lockdown measures harshly affected the economy, but the virus itself has impacted millions of lives through death, illness, grief, and hardship.

 

For every death, there are dozens of survivors whose lives have been made more difficult by COVID. No ethical nor responsible company would seek to illegitimatize the threat the virus continues to pose.

 

How the Corporate World is Coping

 

Nevertheless, we must find ways to continue to function and provide for one another. And many have, especially by way of remote solutions. Work-from-home policies have been changed overnight because of this pandemic. More Americans are working from home than in any other period in modern history. This unprecedented change has not come without its fair share of challenges and struggles. In addition, the many lessons learned from an imperfect and sudden transition.

 

With time, we have also come to see the limits of remote work. We realize that many of the productivity gains made during the early weeks of the pandemic were at the cost of sanity and work-life balance, with terrible aftereffects. We are social creatures, and remote work solutions made possible only through forced and continued isolation breed burnouts and anxiety.

 

People need to come back to work – but they need to do so slowly, sensibly, safely, and without endangering themselves and others. Careful hygiene protocols, strict social distancing measures, dedensification through coworking, and a progressive blend of remote and face-to-face solutions will all play their part in making this return possible.

 

COVID-19 Has Ushered in a Remote World

 

There’s no denying that the impact of the coronavirus on how we approach and involve remote work in our businesses will far outlast the virus itself. Some companies have vowed to continue implementing remote work policies for over a year, while others are switching to remote work “forever.”

 

Others yet will likely relax their rules on the concept of work-from-home, especially as collaborative and communications tools continue to improve in terms of usefulness and ubiquity.

 

This brave new remote world isn’t without its drawbacks. The sudden and unceremonious shift towards remote work has negatively impacted thousands of people, paving the way for issues related to isolation, constant home-related interruptions, and connectivity issues.

 

Make no mistake – there are many people who feel far more comfortable conducting most of their work from home, while remaining productive and feeling far more in-charge of their lives.

 

But there are far more people who haven’t made the most graceful transition, and who dearly miss working in an office environment where they can seamlessly communicate and collaborate with coworkers, and save themselves the hurdles of online communication.

 

 

A Remote World is Not Sustainable

 

There is no perfect replacement for face-to-face coworking – even when everything goes right, and connectivity issues or user-related errors aren’t leading to missed meetings or wasted hours. There’s still a lot that goes lost when relying on virtual tools to collaborate and communicate.

 

It’s much easier to onboard a new hire in the office than over Zoom. And it’s still much better to leave a lasting impression on a client during a physical meeting than over the phone.

 

When working together, there’s no replacement to a well-maintained and productive office environment. Some have turned to large-scale “work gym” Zoom calls to get the feeling of being in a room with other people.

 

Of course, the challenge there is obvious – how can we return to the office in any meaningful capacity without risking a violation of social distancing rules?

 

Keeping one’s distance is still the most effective way to minimize the spread of the virus. In addition to frequent handwashing, masks, keeping surfaces sanitized, and practicing good sneezing and coughing etiquette.

 

Any company that wants to bring at least some of its workforce back into the office must ensure that there’s never more than a few people in any given room at once.

 

However, there is a way to ensure a de-densified office without buying more office space. That is by leveraging coworking spaces.

 

The Role of Coworking in a New Normal

 

The coworking industry was slated to grow extensively in the next few years before the pandemic hit. Yet, COVID has forced many coworking spaces to shift gears and focus on making their spaces safer for companies looking for short-term leases, flexibility, and a well-maintained office. This includes offering private rooms and regular cleaning crews.

 

Coworking spaces are emerging as an important partner to both small and large enterprises looking to get more people back into the office.

 

Rather than crowd a company’s headquarters, companies can elect to work with nearby coworking spaces to reserve space for a few of their workers in key areas around the country. This includes setting up a hub-and-spoke network of satellite teams working independently, yet in coordination with one another, helping workers come back into an office environment without endangering them.

 

Furthermore, coworking spaces enable workers to avoid excessive commutes by choosing coworking spaces that are located closer to where they live. So even workers without a car of their own can reasonably and safely walk or pedal to where they need to be, without having to work solely from home.

 

Those who feel most comfortable remaining remote can choose to do so. While those that thrive best in an office environment can now opt to work in one via coworking.

 

The Ethos of Flexibility

 

Coworking spaces will play a role in a “new normal” dominated by choice – where employees are demanding more choices than ever, so they can ultimately work from wherever they’re most comfortable and productive.

 

Coworking spaces also allow companies to reap the benefits of bringing workers back into the office without endangering them or breaking social distancing rules. Meanwhile, those that continue to feel most comfortable working at home can continue to do so.

 

As we’re continuing to head towards an uncertain future, flexibility will continue to be the key to staying afloat and remaining successful.