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COVID-19 And The Virtual Workplace: The Impact Of Working From Home

COVID-19 And The Virtual Workplace: The Impact Of Working From Home

By Susan Williams

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so many different aspects of our lives. From us isolating ourselves at home to the way we shop for food there are so many things have changed in a very short time.

One major area that has seen a sharp increase is the number of people now working from home.

An HR survey conducted by Gartner found that 88% of employers have encouraged or required their employees to work from home as a result of the Coronavirus.

But how has this impacted us and changed the way we work?

To learn more, we are developing a Learning Bites series called COVID-19 And The Virtual Workplace. In this first segment, we discuss with Dr. Sean Hayes the impact of working from home may be having on employees, teams and managers.

Here is our discussion;

Watch The 2nd Segment: COVID-19 And The Virtual Workplace: Ways To Thrive Working At Home

Here are some of the highlights of our conversation;

  • Many organizations may have already had some type of remote work but to move entire full operation business functions completely remote has been a very abrupt transformation
  • Usually these type of fundamental changes are done over a period of time. They are mapped out and typically accompanied with some type of change management process. In the case of the pandemic there was no time for this – it was very abrupt and immediate
  • There was an immediate adoption learning curve. Equipment, technology, space needs, internet access from home, etc. were all immediately required. Did the company have a private network, how was sensitive data going to be managed were just some of the immediate requirements that needed to put in place rapidly
  • The larger and more complex issue is the behavioural change readiness curve. There are usually issues when change is forced – and the pandemic was a forced change for everybody
  • This could cause concerns for people about their confidence concerning their work, people now trying to do too much or too little, concerns about security for their future and even boundaries. Many keep very distinct lines between their work and their home life – this is now crossing over as people share their home life with their work life and could be seen as an invasion of our privacy. Also, everyone is different. Some people are concerned with this working environment and others don’t mind at all.
  • For some people, there may be some issues with how to start and stop their work and defining their boundaries
  • There is also a risk of some leaders stepping into over management because of their own anxieties. From either their own lack of confidence with managing remotely to using the technology itself. They could transfer their fears to the team
  • There is a great deal of evidence that has emerged on the professional maturity of teams. If a team is already functioning in a cohesive, supportive, comfortable with their roles in the team then it’s likely that this team will adjust well to this working environment. If teams don’t function like this and are now dealing with working remotely, there may be issues. Any underlying issues that may have already been in place could come up to the surface or even become worse
  • This could cause difficulties for management as they may now not visibly see these issues and they could become very prevalent
  • Leaders will need new skills and competencies in order to manage in this environment. They will need to validate more frequently that their staff has what they need in order to do their job. The routes that they may have typically used may not be there (for example HR support / compensation and performance models) and even if they are, they may not have all the answers
  • If trust was fundamental and previously there, this should be a relatively smooth transition however if it’s not there is will raise concerns for all involved

Be sure to join us for our next Learning Bites segment when we will discuss how people can prepare and thrive in this virtual working environment.

Stay safe everyone!

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.