Organizations across the globe are immediately buckling down to determine how to maintain consistency and normalcy of business. Considering the recent misfortunes surrounding COVID-19, companies of all sizes, and in all sectors, are stepping back into boardrooms to put their heads together to determine how to effectively weather this storm. How long this disruption will last is anybody’s guess.
One thing that is for certain – the goal of maintaining some assemblance of normal business activity in the short run will require organizational change. What’s come to light is a strategy that has been consistently growing importance over the last few years. Some organizations have considered the significance of virtual/remote workplaces for several reasons (i.e. lower overhead, increased market for human capital, better work-life balance, etc.). Many companies have already instituted solid foundations toward having a virtual workplace strategy where business is successfully done remotely. In fact, many successful organizations are totally virtual – I work with a few of them, and they are unbelievable! Other companies are simply on the cusp of investigating the potentials and have not yet been convinced of its viability. Either way, the current situation in our society is forcing all organizations to consider doing at least some of their business remotely.
For many years I have been an advocate for virtual workplaces. Over the last several years, technology advancements have proven to be a viable mechanism to effectively allowing organizations to structure their business systems around remote environments. The negative myths surrounding the virtual workplace have been proven wrong time after time. The thought that virtual workers have less motivation, are distracted, and are disengaged, is no longer even a consideration. Additionally, delivering training and conducting meetings have proven to be extremely successful in a remote setting. In many cases, the benefits totally outweigh any negative implications surrounding the strategy.
According to a recent Forbes article, among both part-time and full-time remote workers, 77% stated they were more productive when working remotely; and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house. Further, remote workers were less apt to take time off, working even when ill. Additionally, other studies reported in a U.S. News & World Report confirm that remote workers tend to put in 6-7 more hours per week than on-site employees.
Organizations should not hesitate to quickly implement a virtual business strategy. Understandably, the current unprecedented situation in the world is causing significant business disruption, however, the goal should be to minimize the potential negative impact within the organization, continue business processes as planned, and strategically position workers where they can maintain productivity. Right now, if business can be done virtually, then this is the time to immediately consider viable alternatives.
If you have clients to contend with, training that needs to be completed, or other business activity that is imperative to your organization, maintain the course. Much of the business activities can be accomplished remotely. If you currently do not have technology in place to handle business virtually, there are plenty affordable options available. Much of this technology is easy to implement and requires minimal learning curve. Furthermore, your business partners may also have the technology that can be shared with you.
The test for organizations is whether they have the capability of quickly accommodating radical changes to the business environment. The goal is to be flexible, aggressive, and strategic. Undoubtedly, at some point in time, this crisis will end. Business will go back to normal. The organizations that have adequately adapted their business models will find themselves less impacted.