COVID-19 exposed what’s missing in today’s workplaces

What has Covid-19 taught us about how we work? Here are some unexpected lessons and takeaways that have emerged from the global pandemic.

April 27, 2020
Angelique Parungao

Despite the unprecedented challenges that have come with the global outbreak of COVID-19 this year, the silver lining lies in all the lessons we can take away from it. As businesses around the world slowly open up and begin thinking about transitioning into a new normal, there are several takeaways that we can take from the past few months to ensure we all emerge wiser and stronger as organizations going forward. Here are some key things we’ve learnt: 

Companies need a better crisis communication plan

We’ve lost count on how many companies wished they had a better crisis communication plan before the pandemic started. In a joint study conducted by the marketing communications company Peppercomm and Institute for Public Relations, they found that nearly half of communication executives surveyed did not account for adding infectious disease outbreak in their crisis planning. In fact, 10% of their participants did not have a crisis communication plan at all. Because of that, these companies struggled to adequately reach staff in an effective manner during some of the most crucial times of the outbreak. 

Crisis communication plans are essential to ensure that people know what they should do when problems arise. With all the inconsistent information brewing during a crisis paired with boosted levels of anxiety and panic, it’s necessary to provide a clear strategy to keep the workforce at ease. Employees want concrete and transparent guidance from their leaders, so having a plan ready is crucial. Your communication plan should include what your team needs to do before, during, and after a crisis, as well as clear communication strategies on where they can get their information when they need it. Also, your crisis communication plan should continuously be evaluated and updated with input from your employees. You can do so by conducting internal surveys or polls to get their feedback or suggestions to improve your strategy. With an effective plan in mind, as well as an effective way for it to be communicated to the entire workforce at once, you can ensure that information flows quickly and transparently, keeping everyone in the loop during such times of uncertainty. 

A remote work policy is missing in many businesses

While remote work has been on a steady rise for the past few years, a lot of companies were still on the fence regarding this workplace policy prior to COVID-19. However, the pandemic arrived and forced everyone to move to this set up in extremely short notice—sometimes, overnight. According to Gartner, the percentage of employees working from home doubled from 31% to 62% in three weeks. However, OwlLabs found that 34% of employees thought their companies were not prepared for remote work.

We’ve said it before, and we’re saying it again—remote work is here to stay. During this pandemic, remote work has shown us that people can still be connected, productive, and engaged even when dispersed. As such, work from home policies should be a staple in the company and should not just be an afterthought. Employees have seen the benefits of working from home, including cost savings, better workplace engagement, work-life balance, and positive environmental impact. There are a magnitude of reasons why remote work should stay even after this pandemic, and businesses who integrate this into their policies moving forward will benefit in the long term. 

More organizations need to embrace workplace technology

It’s a fact that the right work tools can make a difference in the way employees do their work. It improves efficiency and performance, and those who have invested in the proper workplace technology leveraged so much on their solutions during the COVID-19 outbreak. Not only did they manage to stay connected through instant messaging and video conferencing, but they were also able to ensure that everyone remained productive using project management tools even when they were working remotely. With that in mind, COVID-19 has proven that those who don’t digitize will undoubtedly emerge weaker among their digitized competitors. 

But aside from acquiring the technology, companies should also invest in training their employees to keep up with their tools. As technology evolves, employees should, too. Having the proper training helps ensure they feel confident and knowledgeable with the tools they use. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2022, 54% of employees are going to need significant training when it comes to new technology. What’s better is if companies can utilize workplace technology that is intuitive and has a similar interface with the ones that they already use daily, such as chat or video calls. Doing so cuts the onboarding time, ensuring they adopt the technology in the workplace with ease. 

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