By Bill Moore, Founder and CEO of XONA
2020 is a transformative year in many ways. Most prominently for businesses, the on-the-ground reality of the Coronavirus pandemic ushered in what Time Magazine described as “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.”
Of course, what began as a grand experiment has quickly become the new normal. More than half of corporate executives and small and medium-sized businesses plan to continue offering a remote work option even after the COVID-19 pandemic eventually comes to a close. Collectively, Gartner estimates that nearly three-quarters of all companies plan to make remote work a central part of the present and future of work.
Unfortunately, there is a growing chasm between remote work ambitions and the on-the-ground reality, as many companies lack the capabilities to empower off-site employees in a way that maintains operational continuity, workplace flexibility, and cybersecurity.
In this regard, adaptability is critical, and successful companies will develop remote operations capacity that’s ready to meet the moment. Here’s why.
#1 Empower distributed teams from anywhere
While much attention is given to the growth of popular remote work tools like Zoom and Slack, these technologies fail to bridge the gap between off-site workers and on-site responsibilities.
Especially when physical infrastructure is involved, employees need a way to assess problems, coordinate functions, and implement solutions.
A long-term remote work arrangement requires companies to provide more than just communication and collaboration tools. They need to be able to remain operational in physical spaces, even from a distance.
Developing this capacity empowers a hybrid workforce, and it poses an opportunity to introduce new efficiencies to existing workflows. Specifically, workers can:
- Operate on-site infrastructure.
- Identify and respond to on-site problems.
- Securely communicate and collaborate with team members.
Empowering distributed teams to be effective from anywhere requires comprehensive remote operations capacity that unites on-site, remote, and distributed teams.
#2 Maintain business continuity in any environment
The long-lasting, far-reaching consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are devastating, and they underscore a broader reality that companies need to embrace: the only certainty is unpredictability.
Natural disasters, international conflict, and shifting consumer trends continually threaten to undermine business continuity. For instance, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have described this hurricane season as “the most active in history,” and catastrophic wildfires on the West Coast offer a startling reminder that significant disruptions can occur at any moment.
In other words, the COVID-19 pandemic is astounding, but it isn’t an aberration. Moving forward, companies should be prepared to maintain business continuity regardless of circumstances.
Remote operations capacity is a prominent component of this reality. Especially for critical sectors like energy, oil & gas, and government, businesses need to be ready regardless of circumstances.
#3 Attract and retain a mobile-first generation of employees
Today’s workers are increasingly mobile-first, something that is likely to increase now that many have proven off-site productivity during a pandemic. What’s more, the transition to remote work is well-received by today’s workers, and, according to Gallup, nearly 60% want to continue working off-site indefinitely.
The benefits are obvious. Many employees achieve better work-life balance, endure less commute-related stress, and attain affordable housing in desired areas.
Many of the same industries that stand to benefit from remote operations capacity, including energy, oil & gas, and government, are struggling to recruit top talent, and comprehensive remote work capabilities can support these initiatives. For example, an energy industry survey by Perkbox found that flexibility is one of the top ways for companies to attract new, and especially younger, talent.
For many, flexible work is a distinguishing feature, separating the most compelling companies from the rest. To compete for top talent, companies will need to adapt to the moment by developing remote operations capacity that allows them to offer flexible work arrangements without compromise.
The concept of workplace “agility” is a corporate buzzword with renewed meaning and importance in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing companies to adapt to new workplace arrangements that include remote, on-site, and distributed teams.
However, this transition is about more than just this moment. Companies that can harness this transformative time to retool and adapt their practices to address the challenges and opportunities ahead will be better positioned for long-term success. Our circumstances might be unique and the challenges immense, but what started as a grand experiment is now the new normal, and we need to be ready to adapt.