A lot has changed since the start of 2020, not least for the business world. With the majority of organisations affected by COVID-19 in one way or another, the first half of the year has come with its fair share of challenges.
But, as is often the case, these difficulties have bred resilience and highlighted opportunity. One of the biggest of these is the rise of remote work, which could prove a huge benefit to businesses in the long term.
Why remote work is here to stay
Both companies and employees can gain benefits from flexible and remote working, including increased productivity, reduced costs and decreased risk.
Remote working policies, whether adopted in response to COVID-19 or beforehand, have encouraged organisations to accelerate their digital transformation and process automation strategies, and adopt new technologies to communicate both internally and externally.
Remote working can help to drive a more successful implementation of your digital transformation and automation strategies. It can help force a rethink of how a company is organised in terms of physical infrastructure, information technology, information security and communication. It can result in increased productivity, reduced errors, improved communications and closed gaps in computer security.
The ability for an employee to work remotely also means that anyone can be hired from anywhere. This grants a company the opportunity to recruit talent more tailored to its needs.
The three pieces of tech required for remote work
Three simple ingredients are necessary for flexible and remote work to be possible. They are:
- Hardware: A mobile computer or laptop with enough technical characteristics for optimal performance and communications support.
- Internet: A robust internet channel to support high loads of smooth and uninterrupted communication.
- Secure software: Secure and intuitive tools that facilitate levels of efficiency and productivity similar to those found in-office.
The human challenges of a remotely working world
There are undoubtedly activities and functions of some roles that depend to a large extent on face-to-face relationships. But in the same way one could have the perception that some functions required such relationships, today, thanks to technology, those paradigms have been dropped.
Physical contact will always be important, whether around the watercooler or in an important meeting, but we are beginning to adapt to environments where the human connection is facilitated by technology. Organisations and people are beginning to find the balance between what you can gain and what you might lose out on in a remote relationship environment.
The technological challenges yet to be tackled
Despite the huge leaps forward of late, there are still some common technological problems to face in working remotely.
- Ease of use: Any communication software needs to be perfectly simple to use, both for the sender/caller and the recipient/receiver. It must feature intuitive installation, configuration and UX.
- Technical resources: From low demand to instantly high demand, communication and technology companies have faced a great challenge in ensuring their products and services are consistently available to those who need them.
- Security: Although we are naming it last, security is undoubtedly the most important challenge. Computer and information security gaps can be greater in remote work situations, so organisations must ensure that any communication tools that are implemented will strengthen information security, rather than weaken it.
The future of remote work
With the advent of 5G, and smartphones becoming ever more powerful, we can assume that emerging communication technologies will focus more and more on this type of device, and that mobile communication channels will have a greater role in helping organisations to improve their interactions with customers and suppliers. Artificial intelligence will help to power this evolution, allowing organisations to interact in a safe, fluid and automated way.
Make no mistake – remote work is not a band-aid solution for COVID-19. It’s here to stay, and is set to mark the start of a new working world for organisations across the planet.