The Covid-19 pandemic is a reality imposed in almost every country in the world and to prevent its spread in addition to sanitary and health measures, several management, technology and labor strategies weremassively adopted such as: remote work, use of software as a service, video conferencing and cloud-based applications.
As one of its inevitable consequence, office buildings across the world arenow empty of people and a lot has changed, particularly in the way companies operate.
It must be taken into consideration that in many private and public companies,remote work was a novelty for both workers as for employers.
In this respect, it must be enhanced that Information and Communication technologies, played a key role in enabling employees to work at a distance (home offices) from a conventional office away from their employers. Individuals no longer need to commute to a presential office; they were able to send their work along the web because the work was being basically executed at home. Such flexible work model usually has been labeled, around the world, “telework”, “telecommuting”, “remote working”, “distance working”, “home based working”, “home office”, “e-work” and “flexiplaces”.
In addition, according to business experts, one of the best defenses a company has for preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace, is to have a comprehensive remote work strategy that ensures all users can securely access the tools they need to work remotely. This includes access to business systems related to HR, payroll, ERP and CRM; unified communication (UC) and collaboration tools as well as emails and file stores. It is considered that some companies may have generous work-from-home policies matched to network configurations with enough bandwidth and licenses.
As the pandemic continues to affect us , companies still need to evaluate their ability to conduct business as usual during this atypical time and how they can support a greater number of remote workers, gain visibility into their supply chain resilience and gauge the short-and long-term effects in the Post-Pandemic.
One of the most important elements of nowadays HR planning, especially when assuming a high absenteeism rate, is to understand how employees’ skills complement one another when employees could back up others if they are affected by this illness.
We are predicting that remote workers will likely embrace distance work as the “new normal”, so companies would be wise to invest in UC ,including collaboration tools and video conferencing. They will complement to fill in for face-to-face meetings and will increase engagement among participants. In this respect, employees must be properly skilled in the use of UC tools securely, including the best practices for connecting to the network and cloud applications from their home environment.
For distance work to be successful, HR must efficiently manage remote work procedures and communicate productivity expectations, being realistic that there might be a learning curve for some employees who are less familiar with remote work technology and skills.
Actually, we are at a turning point and leaders will have to make a choice about where and how people will work in the Post-pandemic. The wrong decisions in this area can be costly on many corporate levels. We must not forget that the work is essentially social, because people working together generate synergy, new ideas, creativity is brought to life and innovation and trust emerge.
The experts also believe that, despite the "end of office" thinking, it is necessary to consider the specifics of each professional in his family environment. During this health crisis, in spite of being mandatory, many people thought it worked at home very well, and showing that the telework scheme has the potential to work, although it is not "for everyone and not the whole time". So, the best solution is to adopt the home office but keep a few days in person to reinforce the vision of the balance between remote and face-to-face work.
After the first wave of experimenting with work at home, the second comes called “hybrid work”. According to ITA’s researchers, it is necessary to invest in measures that make happier connections between people and workspaces possible in this important period of transition and vulnerability that humanity is going through.
The reality of the moment is to make activities more flexible and some companies already have a date set to receive their employees again and several public and private managers have already made referrals for a return. But the question arises: how to make the office environment safe for employees? Among some companies' recommendations are items such as verifying the existence of an approved HR Policy, which defines return instructions; the development of a response plan for the appearance of symptoms with the approval of the company's physician; strengthening of care with the air conditioning system; constant cleaning and disinfection; changing the configuration of office furniture and lay out, creating access protocols.
With the hope that the virus will soon decrease, in the meantime, know that we remain committed to our stakeholders in keeping the world of labor healthy and safe. The ITA is actively reinforcing remote work as one of the most important strategies for diminishing the impacts of Covid-19 Pandemic on the world’s economies, businesses and workers.
Anyway, if you need any support, please, just let us know. Together, we will do the best to keep our workplaces safe and in good healthy in order to create better work environments for all of us now and in the Post-Pandemic.
Alvaro Augusto Mello, PhD - President