Work From Home Will Still Dominate Post-Coronavirus– How Will This Impact Startups? – Forbes - Freelance Rack

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Work From Home Will Still Dominate Post-Coronavirus– How Will This Impact Startups? – Forbes

The world changed in the blink of an eye this year. COVID-19 swept the globe, forcing mass lockdowns and taking hundreds of thousands of lives and jobs with it. This global pandemic upended the way we live and work and sent the global economy into a nosedive. The second-quarter GDP showed its biggest decline since at least 1947 while unemployment numbers have soared to record highs. Large and small businesses in every sector anxiously await a vaccine while wondering if they will survive the last two quarters of the year. In the meantime, non-essential employees continue to work from home pondering if and when they will return to the office.

One big question on everyone’s mind is what “normal” will look like post-coronavirus. Already, big companies including Google, Facebook and Twitter have announced long-term telework plans. Google said its 200,000 employees will continue to work from home until June 2020, while Twitter implemented a plan for its workforce to work at home indefinitely. Facebook also rolled out similar program and predicts that, in the next five to 10 years, at least 50% of its workforce will work from home. 

I think the moves made by these tech behemoths are a good bellwether of what we can all expect. Companies big and small need to start planning for a new norm where going into the office is not necessarily our only option. For the big companies that have the means to change and implement new policies, as well as the time to experiment with ways to help telework fit with the culture, this change should come easier. The bigger question is how startups, with fewer means and less opportunity to experiment, will handle the new normal of working at home.

Ultimately, I believe the startups who will survive will find a way to make it work, but let’s look at the challenges they are facing:

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·     Management and employee interaction – Traditional management styles include personal interaction with employees and pulling together teams to complete a project. Without the physical interaction, the coffee breaks and lunches, the common bonds between team members have a potential to weaken or break down.  

·     Network connection requirements – Many home offices are not set up for daily teleworking. Some of the most common problems are low-speed internet and a lack of workspace and necessary equipment. The ideal network would consist of a highly secure line, highspeed connection and on-demand video speed-dial. While future 5G, AI and edge computing will certainly enhance the required network, existing network limitations are a big challenge. 

·     Human management and resources – The human interaction side is now more important than ever. The old HR model does not work. Companies will need to expand their HR roles to include employee self-motivation, virtual group activities and in-person visits when needed.  

·     Organizational behavior – This is a new discipline now provided by many universities as a Ph.D. program. It takes into consideration the social aspect of work and personal life and teaches how to balance the two and be effective in both. Some of the biggest challenges employees face currently include self-motivation, knowing when and how to end the work day at home and dealing with kids who are also currently home.

These are big challenges for any size of company, but particularly so for those just building their cultures and teams. Those companies who can adapt to the new work environment will thrive and I’m sure many new businesses will form around supporting teleworking.

I spent more than 50% of my time traveling in 2019, creating businesses in different parts of the country. This year I have yet to take a flight—and I won’t be flying until a proven vaccine is readily available. Just like many of you, I’ve spent significant time over the past seven months on video calls using Zoom or Google hangout. While the feedback I’ve heard from colleagues about working from home is mixed, no matter how long the virus is a threat, the impact it has made on the work environment is here to stay. It’s up to us to adapt and move forward.

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