In March of 2020, during the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, employees in just about every industry suddenly found themselves working remotely indefinitely. Telecommuting had long been seen as the future of work, but few could have predicted that this “brave new world” would have come along quite as soon as it did.
Collectively we’ve learned a lot of lessons over the past eight months, but by far one of the most important is the idea that working from home is actually kind of great in a lot of ways.
While it’s absolutely true that not everyone loves the idea of working remotely, a lot do — to the point where few are looking forward to things “returning to normal,” whenever that day finally arrives. Indeed, out of all the lessons that we’ve picked up during the COVID-19 remote era, there are a few in particular that are certainly worth a closer look.
While working from home by design gives you far more freedom than you would find in a traditional office, one of the most important lessons we’ve learned from nearly eight months of working from home is that you still need SOME type of dedicated space to call your own throughout the day.
Whether it is an entire room in your house that you convert into a home office or a specific corner of your dining room table, it doesn’t actually matter — creating your own dedicated workspace helps get you into the mindset of the critical work you’re doing on a daily basis. If you get up in the morning and work from anywhere within your home, it’s hard to mentally prepare for the day ahead. You’ll likely find yourself procrastinating more than you’d like, and you’ll be far more prone to distractions as well.
With a dedicated workspace, you can make that mental shift in the morning when you transition from personal time to “work time.” Plus, this will be important at the end of the day for the opposite reason — if you have a dedicated space where you can physically get up and leave, you’ll have an easier time transitioning back into that personal mindset. You’ll be far less likely to “bring your work home with you” so to speak, even though that’s literally what we’re all doing now.
Another major lesson that we’ve picked up during the remote work era has to do with the importance of a key solution like communication and collaboration tools. Chief among remote work enablement tools though is an intelligent information management system that should sit at the heart of any organization.
Data silos are always a danger to the modern business — full stop. If information is trapped and unable to move freely from one department to the next, the people who need it to make better and more informed decisions don’t have it, creating a negative ripple effect across your enterprise. The fact that everyone is now spread so thin while working from home only compounds this issue, making communication and collaboration an uphill battle on the best of days.
With an information management platform like M-Files, on the other hand, many of these fears go away. It doesn’t matter where something is stored — be it on a network drive or in cloud storage or somewhere else entirely — people will be able to find it with a Google-like search and relevant results. It doesn’t even matter where those people are located, whether they’re at home or are still coming into the office. They have access to the information they need, when they need it, so they can spend less time hunting for it and more time putting it to good use.
Speaking of communication, another valuable lesson that working from home has taught us is that we have a need to remain connected to one another now more than ever. Not only is communication a core ingredient to your business’ productivity but it’s also a major part of the organizational culture you’ve worked so hard to build in the first place.
To keep people engaged while working from home, you need to make time for video conferences. Intentional communication is an absolute necessity — both in terms of making sure that people are checking in on all that important work they’re doing, and so that they can just see each other and remind themselves that they’re a part of a much larger team than it can sometimes feel like under these conditions.
Finally, a lesson that we’ve all learned during the COVID-19 era is that the term “workday” doesn’t really mean what it used to any longer. Gone are the days when work was exclusively limited to some 9-to-5 schedule. This is likely one of the reasons why working from home certainly isn’t for everyone — in addition to missing that face-to-face interaction of being in an office, a lot of people have a hard time dealing with the lack of structure that remote work brings with it.
But for many other people, this freedom from traditional “office hours” couldn’t have come along at a better time. We can truly be as productive as we need to be whenever we WANT to be — bringing a new opportunity to successfully maintain that precious work/life balance that far too many people lost sight of over the years.