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:
- A drop in planned and spontaneous collaboration.
- A decline in quality social relationships.
- .Fewer professional interactions.
- Other collaborative problems.
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.
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.