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COVID-19

The Pandemic, A Perfect Opportunity to Review and Reinvent Digital Transformation and Remote Collaboration?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Most of the Western world only started to feel the impact of the pandemic—both on economy and daily life—in March 2020. Lockdowns and various restrictions forced companies to adapt quickly, sometimes awkwardly and occasionally reluctantly. We entered 2021 with the benefit of “hindsight is 2020.” Now, it’s time to apply lessons learned, implement strategies to leverage experience, make adjustments if necessary and move forward with a new vision. 

 

Could the current crisis be the perfect opportunity to become more agile and rethink your entire organizational structure? What COVID-related changes could remain in the foreseeable future or even become the new way of doing business? What tools could be used for the years to come? What methods and strategies should be deployed post-crisis?

 

Let’s start 2021 off on the right foot with great work habits, another dose of resilience, and a positive mindset.

Pause, Breathe and Analyze 

Remote work changed the rules of the game for most companies and analyzing this ongoing transformation is vital. This is why Slack launched the Future Forum, a consortium that will help companies make all the necessary transformations to thrive in an essentially digital business environment. Brian Elliott, vice-president at Slack, introduced us to the Future Forum during a virtual learning expedition we hosted last December. 


Preliminary report data highlighted the following three major findings:  

  • Only 12% of knowledge workers say they intend to return to working exclusively from an office, while an overwhelming 72% want a hybrid model (combination of office and remote work);
  • Top advantages include eliminating commutes, saving money, and improving work-life balance;
  • Biggest challenges include building relationships with colleagues, increased feelings of loneliness or isolation, and not being aware of what others are working on.

 

Three factors are the keys to an efficient remote work culture—proper tools, good management practices and a strong business culture. Start with reviewing current practices and asking relevant questions in order to make the right decisions.

  • Your technology: Did the pandemic spur the adoption of new tools? Are they keeping up with your needs? Are you getting feedback from employees? Are there gaps, problems or frustrations? Are you using existing technology differently? Are you exploring niche-specific “best of breed” solutions or do you have more of a “best of suite” approach with an integrated solution?
  • Your work practices: Have you been adapting them to the “new normal”? How do you communicate with your teams? Are you communicating effectively? Do you know how to innovate remotely and bounce back faster than the competition? Did you test agile methodologies, design thinking or lean management?
  • Your business culture and your team’s mindset: Are you motivated by new challenges? Are you mentally and physically ready? Are your managers trained to facilitate remote meetings? Do they know how to unlock and maximize participant engagement? Has your internal business culture adapted to the situation?

Get Ready for a Very Digital 2021 

You’re faced with the perfect opportunity to accelerate your transformation to a digital business—but your teams still need to be ready for it. Leave 2020 behind—it’s been an exhausting year. As an executive, now is the time to lead by example and champion a new dynamic into your organization.

Don’t react to events, initiate change. Test and experiment as much as possible to regain control over the situation.

Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas and initiatives that you could implement:

  • Break down organizational barriers and internal silo mentality. Share information and be transparent with your teams.   
  • Adopt a multidisciplinary approach for team work as soon as possible. Gather people from different backgrounds to focus on the same project (e.g. manager, designer and engineer).
  • Communicate more with your teams using vlogs, live-streaming technology, AMA (“ask me anything”) Q&A formats, etc. Communication is paramount for a successful remote work experience and it shouldn’t only flow vertically.
  • Offer team members online professional growth and skill development opportunities. LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, Open Classroom...—dozens of online training courses can be used to strengthen both hard and soft skills.
  • Offer mentoring and coaching opportunities to motivate employees. This is also a great way to mitigate feelings of isolation and keep an eye on employees who are most likely to struggle with the “new normal.”

Brian Elliott stresses that it’s time to revolutionize the way we work rather than just evolve. The pandemic took the world by surprise in 2020 and the impact left us scrambling, wondering what to do. Along the way, it has also helped build resilience, agility and innovation. Don’t wait, capitalize on these best practices and go even further to decide today what your business will look like tomorrow.


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