Report: Coronavirus impact on teamwork

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New trends for remote work cooperation and work-life balance in the age of COVID-19

With the declaration of the World Health Organization, the coronavirus disease COVID-19 became a global pandemic on the 11th of March 2020. There were different restrictions put in place but the one that changed the lives of workers was the restriction on commuting from home to office. This generated the essence of remote work and defined the future of the office through hybrid models.

This report will discuss the impact of Coronavirus on teamwork and different trends that are emerging as a result of remote working.

Key takeaways:


• Remote work has seen a great surge throughout the globe with economies like the US, Canada, Japan, and the UK taking the lead.

• When it comes to remote work, stakeholders have mixed opinions. While the majority of the employers have successfully managed the transition, they are less likely to continue the full remote working trend.

• While workers admired the flexibility of the schedule offered in remote work, they are wary of missing out on the resources exclusive to the office environment.

• While teamwork and collaboration are maintained through digital products, not every company is successful and there is a need to learn from those leading the change.

• Work-life balance stats also showed mixed trends among the workers.

• The hybrid model is popular among the majority of stakeholders and can be seen as a norm in the Post-COVID world.

Coronavirus and remote work

Remote work was a term used mostly by digital field workers who were not bound to the traditional office environment. The concept became broader encompassing hundreds of other sectors since COVID-19.

COVID-19 necessitated remote work as the only option to pursue if people were to save their lives. In the US alone, the percentage of remote workers increased from 17 to 44 who worked from home 5 days or more per week.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occasional remote workers share also rose that was only 25% in 2018-18.

Trends of Remote Work in the US during before and after COVID-19 (Statista)

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Economies besides the US

With COVID-19, the world came to a halt. Like the US, many advanced economies also implemented remote work to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.

Japan
Japan is one of those economies that did not only implement remote work and maintained it but also decided the future of remote work to some extent. By June 2020, 56.4% of the business enterprises in japan switched to the home office. Among these, 35.4% implemented adopted remote work completely in Japan.

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has also seen a surge in remote working. Before COVID-19, only 9% of the adults worked from home. With the pandemic, the number rose to 69% of those who are working either 5 days or less from home. The numbers also indicate that a huge number, almost two-third has no intention of leaving the remote work or transitioned back to office work.

Canada
The sentiments regarding remote working in Canada are no different. According to a study conducted among Canadian employees in 2021, very few employees wished to fully return to work from the office once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Only nine percent of Canadian employees declared to be willing to work all hours outside of the home. The largest group of workers (40.8 percent) preferred to work half of the hours at home and half outside the home. On the other hand, some 15 percent of remote workers wanted to work all hours at home after the coronavirus pandemic.

The present and Future of Remote work (Views of Stakeholders)


Many experiments to adopt remote work failed in the past. However, it was a situation of life and death during COVID-19. No matter if the stakeholders stand for or against remote work, they did not have much control. Hence, many experts see the remote working conditions during COVID-19 as an opportunity to change the work environment once and for all.

69% of remote workers, surveyed in 2014, showed less absenteeism than the regular office workers, a finding promising for those in favour of remote work.

Still, the stats show a mixed reaction when it comes to remote work. Firmbee took into account different aspects of Remote Work and found the following trends:

A survey by PWC showed that in June 2020, 73% of executives successfully transitioned to the remote work environment while in December 2020, the percentage rose to 83%. Among them, over half (52%) say that average productivity has increased while workers shifted to remote work routines.

When it comes to the complete transition to remote work after the pandemic, the figures are not just as promising from both employers and employee sides. Only 13% of the executives are agreed on giving up the office environment completely post-pandemic.

As for the workers, 13% are in favor of remote work while for 87%, the office environment is essential for their learning and growth.

Another important consideration that aligns employees for or against remote work is their experience. The least experienced workers feel less productive during remote work and need an office environment to learn and engage.

Team communication

PWC provided an insight into the purpose of office and found that workers divided the purpose of the office into four sections:

• The office helps in increasing productivity of staff

• It provides an effective space to engage with the clients

• Office enables the staff to work in collaboration

• It also ensures to maintain the company culture and values

All these dimensions are important. To attain these purposes, office staff makes effective teams and work in unison to achieve efficiency in work. With the pandemic, this collaboration and teamwork transitioned to digital means, and many insights were provided regarding positive developments, teamwork and other difficulties surfaced while working remotely.

Negative developments

Socializing and collaboration as a team
Socialization is an important aspect of the office environment. This socialization is necessary to build meaningful work-relations and learning new things through the experiences of others. While working remotely, workers have seen a great change in socializing. Of course, it is not possible to have face-to-face interaction while working 9-5 jobs and tasks are divided to be completed separately. Hence, 63% of workers complained about less collaboration and urged their employers to find new ways for teamwork and collaboration and to increase socialization.

Team culture
Team culture is maintained by the employees as per the tasks that are assigned to them. Though remote work has been becoming a norm yet workers are not satisfied with the way companies ignoring the value of team culture. Without true motivation, it is not possible to develop what is desired as a team. The figures also showed that 35% of companies who adopted remote working culture have failed to hold an event to promote virtual team culture. With less support from employers, the employees are at the mercy of their efforts to do as much as they can.

Positive developments

Availability of top leadership
This is rarely possible in the office environment where managing directors are the only bridge between employees and leadership. During COVID-19, most of the managers are still at the office while top leadership is conveniently engaging with those working at different levels.52% of the employees have admired this development that is maintaining the hierarchical structure in touch by using digital means.

Communication technology
The most essential development that comes with the COVID is the wide use of communication technologies. Microsoft and Zoom remain at the top helping the education to business sector alike. 26% of the companies have given more access to technological resources to the employees and have assisted in providing ways of communication and promoting teamwork.

Work-life balance

Remote work has brought many changes in the lives of workers. On one hand, there are pieces of evidence of high productivity and low stress, on the other hand, there is a feeling of increased loneliness and poor collaboration. But a great shift is expected in work-life balance.

Situation before COVID-19
Above 50% of the employees remain unsatisfied with the work-life balance and complained about lack of consideration from their companies, missing out on important events and reduction in their motivation and morale.

Situation during COVID-19
More than 50% report that their work-life balance is deteriorating more with 68% complaining that they have to work longer during COVID-19
Alternatively, other 50% believed their work-life balance improved with remote working due to flexibility of schedule, no commute, and spending more time with their families.

Solutions

During COVID-19, it is natural to find solutions that are feasible and practically possible. Companies are using many digital products to achieve the purposes set in an office environment. These should be adopted by those who are facing difficulties in developing teamwork.

Web-conferencing with Skype
Skype is already a familiar and well-developed app that helped in the transition from office to home environment. However, most of its features are used during COVID-19 such as polls/voting, Question/ Answers function, and whiteboard. Companies developed a quick guide to adopt Skype web-conferencing to work efficiently. The company showed a 70% surge in its users within a month of a pandemic.

Microsoft Teams and collaboration
A good project management & team collaboration system like Firmbee can help manage all the firm’s issues remotely. It offers the advantages of a team collaboration tool like distributing tasks or tracking time. But the magic happens when you use all its features: budgeting, finance & invoice management, recruiting, CRM, and more. Thanks to the fact that it’s highly customizable almost any type of company can find its way of using it to increase productivity, organize tasks, and master collective knowledge.

The boom of ZOOM
ZOOM became a household name during the pandemic. It was in use before but limited to few sectors. With COVID-19, the companies found the existing solutions inadequate to engage their employees. ZOOM has been selected to cater to teams comprising of up to 500 people. Hence, it is only useful for voting, whiteboard, or chat rooms but also for holding a large-scale online event. The application has seen a 485% increase in customers with the pandemic.

Other software solutions
MURAL offers the features of workshops and labs to replicate those activities with advance digital features. Its features include whiteboards, sticky notes, templates, time management tools and voting resources. Its users have also reached millions since the pandemic. Another software MIRO helps the workers in creating stories, mood boards, virtual ideation, research and design, brainstorming, diagramming, and mapping to support an agile workflow.

Hybrid Work Model


Though people are forced to work remotely, the complete transition to work from home is not becoming a reality. The majority of the office workers do not want to go to the office and are willing to continue working from home. Apart from the 12% emphasize that office environment is essential for work. However, the third category (72%) like to use a hybrid work model to maintain a middle ground and in the hope to not lose the valuable office environment as well as the comfort of home.

Advantages of hybrid model
The rise in productivity during COVID-19 is a positive development for the proponents of remote work. However, the workers and employers together defined certain areas where the office environment becomes essential. Below is a brief idea about the struggles related to remote working.

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Even in the comfort of home, such difficulties make the interactions and collaboration efforts through digital means futile. These difficulties also translated to a lack of meaningful social relationships, complexities in advance tasks, and reduction in mental health and well-being.

Taking into account these facts, organizations are offering a hybrid model where tasks are balanced between working remotely and working in an office.

The consideration is also fruitful for those who work in sectors where remote working is not possible such as commute and hospitality (60%) and their livelihoods are dependent on those who go to daily office jobs (40%).

The distributed or hybrid workplace will use home, office, and satellite office to provide choice for their workers and to balance the in-office and out-office needs.

Sources:
Statista; PWC; Fingerprint For Success; Emerald; Deloitte; Harvard Business Review; McKinsey; The Japan Times

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