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After the Lockdown - a new way of working?

"Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24/7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries, and continents. "Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies

With suggestions that there may be an ease in the lockdown in the next couple of months people are asking if it will be a return to business as usual or will there be “a new normal”.

Although being able to work remotely has been around for a while the government asking people to work from home (WFH) has forced organisations, that may have been reluctant to embrace the technologies that enable this, to do so.

Will WFH be “the new normal” for office-based organisations?

According to the Buffer’s 2019 report on the State of Remote Work  - “Remote work is not a trend - it’s here to stay”. This was, of course, produced before the pandemic so it is probably more apposite now.

Organisations that want to continue with remote working - whenever the Coronavirus becomes history - need to take some factors into consideration, including:

  • The legal and contractual considerations

  • Ensuring employer-provided tools are in place, such as IT equipment, mobile phones and Broadband. You might think this might increase costs but remember that staff working from home will reduce office costs

  • Managing remote teams, both the individuals and as team - ensuring a group dynamic continues

  • Finding the right balance between WFH and office-based work 

  • Health and safety obligations

  • Recruitment and integrating new workers into the company culture

  • In particular, smaller groups need to consider the additional costs associated with more home working for their employees/volunteers, and providing their services digitally, when putting in bids to get emergency funds in the current crisis

Staff also need to keep some considerations in mind:

  • Keeping a work/life balance - because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re “on” all the time. Be able to switch off.

  • Ensure you keep focussed by having a to-do list and focussed task management

  • There won’t be the casual chit-chat you have in the office so find ways to engage more casually with your colleagues. David Rabin, VP of Global Commercial Marketing at Lenovo suggests "Keep a team chatroom open. There is nothing more important in a group remote project than casual communication. Not just official emails and work updates, but the ability to sit back and chat."

Here are some tools that could assist both the company and staff with remote working. They are a selection of tools in different categories. Some of the tools are free, some are freemium.

To do apps:

Microsoft To-Do - Free - A simple software solution for organizing business stuff, collaborating with your business team, and is quite fast to implement and use. 

Todoist - Free version/paid version - Can be used for small teams, individuals and professionals to manage anything from a shopping list to major projects at work.

Any.do - Free version/paid version - Allows users to manage both personal goals and team projects in a single interface. Projects can be broken down into tasks, and subtasks delegated to individual team members for completion.

Project management apps:

Trello - Free version/paid version - An easy, flexible and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything

Asana - Free version/paid version - Designed to improve team collaboration and work management. It helps teams manage projects and tasks in one tool.

MeisterTask - Free version/paid version - An online task management tool for teams.

Note taking/saving articles apps:

OneNote - Free -  a program for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It gathers users' notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries. Notes can be shared with other OneNote users.

Google Keep - Free -  Quickly capture what’s on your mind and get a reminder later at the right place or time. Speak a voice memo on the go and have it automatically transcribed. Grab a photo of a poster, receipt or document and easily organize or find it later in search.

Zoho Notebook - Free -  allows you to create unlimited notes and notebooks in the cloud.            

Communication apps:

Slack - Free version/paid version - Organize your work by team or project using channels. Collaborate with colleagues using your existing workplace tools like Google Drive.

Chanty - Free version/paid version - A simple team chat tool for small and medium-sized teams that doesn’t limit its searchable message history. Similar to Slack, you can communicate in public and private channels and through one-to-one conversations.

Flock - Free version/paid version - A workplace chat software that claims to run faster than Slack. In addition to regular communication features like instant chat, audio, and video calls, it also offers built-in polls, reminders and notes.

If you want to explore more integrated solutions you could look at:

MicroSoft Office 365 Business

Google G Suite

These are not the only apps available but they should give you an idea of the possibilities that technology offers.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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