The coronavirus pandemic is affecting many facets of our daily lives, perhaps starting with the way we work. As part of the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, a quickly growing number of employers around the world are now requiring their people to work remotely. But this shift may not be temporary: According to Lenovo research just completed in mid-March 2020, the majority of employees surveyed across five countries – the US, Italy, Germany, China and Japan – believe the current emergency may have a long-lasting impact on how employers view remote-work policies.
In fact, according to this research, workers feel at least somewhat ready to make the shift to working from home if required (87%), an increasingly likely scenario as the majority of companies have either encouraged (46%) or required (26%) remote work since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
At Lenovo, we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our employees, customers, and partners. As resellers, you should expect no less of your end customers. With that in mind, here are some tips you can pass on as you help them navigate the new currents of the home-based workplace.
1. Stay flexible and connected through portable technology
Even in brick-and-mortar locations, today’s workplace has morphed away from the traditional fixed station to something more portable. Today workers often move with laptops in hand from desk to huddle room to couch, or even to a treadmill if the company has one. The same can and should apply to work-from-home scenarios, allowing employees to stay active.
Instead of requiring workers to sit in one home-office spot through the entire day, your employer customers should enable them to relocate to sofa, deck, or kitchen island at will. The chief requirement here is battery life; improved smart stand-by features in newer laptops give users 30% more battery time, freeing them to roam around. Staying active will make employees more engaged and efficient; such upgrades can also improve morale among so many of us now working remotely out of necessity, not choice.
2. Leverage productivity and collaboration tools
Now is also the time to suggest such productivity boosts as a monitor, webcam, headset, or conferencing and collaboration tools.
A monitor is a major productivity tool in the office and at home. If your customers are used to having two monitors ─ a laptop’s and a larger monitor at work ─ they should consider duplicating this set-up at home. Wherever that work entails a lot of spreadsheets, graphic design items, architectural plans or detail that requires larger screens, an extra monitor is immensely helpful.
Video is key to the remote working environment. Face-to-face interaction enables employees feel connected and avoid the isolation typically reported by work-from-home employees. Companies should arm their workers with the best video-conferencing technology. The latest laptops, desktops, and workstations all have enhanced video and audio features that provide microphones for 360° reception and 4-meter, far-field performance.
Ideally, your customers’ laptops now act more like smartphones, ensuring a more phone-like, always-on, always-connected operation and state of mind.
Enhanced visibility through collaboration tools. In our office space, many of us use the latest collaboration tools for conferencing, from one-touch-start devices to meetings in a huddle room. At home, your customers’ employees can use personal collaboration devices or PCs that are enhanced with collaboration software platforms.
Employees retain their visibility and availability to each other through such video conferencing tools as Microsoft Teams, Skype, and Zoom. Even a five-minute real-time chat or face-to-face interaction with a coworker can shift someone’s mood or workflow for the better, taking no more time or effort than a peek over a physical cubicle wall or a walk to the water cooler.
Keeping a team chatroom open all day helps make a workplace feel connected and aligned. Some employees are even using their company’s video-conferencing solutions to ping a colleague and grab a virtual lunch together. The right technology provides not just productivity, but personal connectivity.
3. Encourage flexible work schedules
While our research found 61% of employees feel they are just as productive (if not more so) when working from home, the primary obstacles to such productivity are distractions like TV, or an inability to separate work and family life. Setting some boundaries and daily schedules will help eliminate those distractions and improve your end users’ ability to focus.
As COVID-19 impacts childcare and other services, your customers and their employees may be juggling work and home responsibilities to a new and more challenging degree. That’s yet another reason to urge them to try to maintain as normal a schedule as possible, separating professional and personal time by starting and ending work at the same time each day. At the same time they should encourage flexibility, understanding that more than one person might be working from the same home. This is where an extra pair of noise-cancelling headphones can serve nicely.
4. Communicate often, as this might be the new norm
As employers and managers, it’s your customers’ job to make sure their teams feel connected and secure. Because employees are uncertain about the state of normal business operations when most of them are working from home, clear and open communication is vital, especially during disruptive and transitional periods.
Company work-from-home policies are evolving and will continue to do so. The many uncertainties presented by COVID-19 challenge businesses to find new ways to collaborate with their teams while remote. Will this pandemic create a future where remote work will be more of the norm? There is a sense that this situation might usher in more permanent change. According to Lenovo’s global research, 77% of employees feel that companies will be more open to or even encourage letting workers work remotely once we get through this period.
Employee experience in the workplace was already changing before the pandemic hit. Technology had already ushered in a new globalization, with a workforce that stays connected from anywhere. Since 2005, the regular work-at-home population has grown 159% and is still trending up. The situation we are in right now only proves that the technology investment your customers are making today won’t be wasted going forward, as most people feel productive at home and believe that the workforce will move further in this direction tomorrow.
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