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In March of 2020, tens of millions of American workers jumped into a brand new world as they began working from home.
Nearly a year later, the trend continues. Google announced in July that its roughly 200,000 employees will continue to work from home until at least next summer. Mark Zuckerberg has said he expects half of Facebook’s workforce to be remote within the decade. Twitter has told staff they can stay home permanently.
How have we fared?
While many have a love/hate relationship with remote working, it seems one win has occurred in the area of productivity. In a recent survey of 800 employers, 94 percent said productivity was either unaffected or was actually improved compared to its pre-pandemic levels.
And as people have found this stride, many want to continue. When the pandemic is over, one in six workers is projected to continue working from home or co-working at least two days a week, according to a recent survey by economists at Harvard Business School. Another survey of hiring managers found that one-fifth of the workforce could remain entirely remote after the pandemic.
If you plan to continue remote working in the near future, maybe you could benefit from pro-tips others have discovered. Here are a few observations.
Without arriving or departing from the office, it can be hard to create -- or sustain -- momentum.
Use consistent physical cues to block your day. This can be simple, like watering the plants daily before sitting down at your work station. Or taking a 20-minute walk after lunch each day. Some find it best to “close” the computer as a signal that the workday is over.
Communication without body language is hard, and there are many ways to offset this challenge.
Prioritize clarity by over-communicating as much as possible, including questions, clarifications, and expressing appreciation. When you can’t rely on body language and facial cues, emojis and GIFs can be a fun way to bridge that gap. And since the potential for misunderstanding is high, assume the best intentions from others in absolutely all interactions!
Technology has curbed our ability to "shut the door" at work without interruption.
You are at your best when you are undistracted, so guard your schedule and carve out key moments to hone your productivity.
If you can swing it, batch your meetings and syncs into one day (or one part of each day) so you can work heads-down at other moments. You may find it helpful to block off certain days or hours to receive no calls, emails, or notifications from your phone.
As companies consider a long-term commitment to remote working, substantial sacrifices may be required.
Whether it’s productivity software or flexible instant virtual office spaces (like Slack or a private Internet Relay Chat), remote teams that thrive will require a genuine investment to succeed.
Many tech companies are increasingly opting for is hiring a head of remote work. The position is intended to help create a cohesive experience for all workers, says Brynn Harrington, vice president of people growth at Facebook:
“We’re looking for the person with influence, skills, and experience who can help us pivot the company. When we think about the transformation to remote, it’s a wholesale shift in how we run.”
If Heraclitus was right, change is the only constant in life.
While remote working is new to many, it will continue to change the face of the workforce as 2021 ticks ahead. Whether you despise or adore it, your attitude toward this change can make all the difference in how you overcome challenges a new season will bring.