Work from Home – the New Normal

By Chuck French on 6/24/20

Work from Home - the New Normal - Executive Summary

Work from Home – the New Normal

(COMING SOON:  a 4-Part Guide To Working From Home )

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This article provides an in-depth look at the hard impact and future implications of working from home for business operations nationwide resulting from the sudden and unanticipated disruption of the covid-19 pandemic. It explores the gradual changes in attitudes towards telework in the past that have now delivered some degree of preparation for the seismic shift to at-home employment. We include research suggesting that a full embrace of the “new normal,” when supported by appropriate tools and policies, may prove uniquely beneficial for management, employees, and the corporate bottom line.

That optimism is supported through a close, historical examination of the forces that have shaped the evolution of business IT technologies – forces that will surely continue, not in spite of, but because of, the emergence of a virtual workforce. The unified communication innovations unleashed through the convergence of Internet and cellular systems, along with the increasing acceptance of, and dependence on, mobile devices for both personal and business interactions, has all but erased the distinction between the company office and the home office. However, as businesses relinquish control over what devices employees may use to connect with enterprise IT systems, they must accept the obligation to provide appropriate software and implement policies that control how those tools are used in order to create clear separation between personal and professional interactions, reduce work disruptions, and protect internal networks and data. This article addresses those challenges and provides a framework for assuring network security and employee compliance in a BYOD world.

We also take a look at a new generation of communication applications enabled by this digital revolution, particularly video conferencing and collaboration applications designed to support virtual team communications. While development of cloud solutions capable of integrating voice, text and video long preceded the pandemic, the sudden demands of a virtual workforce has also accelerated the need for more immersive collaboration solutions that meet the specific security and data retention requirements of the enterprise.

It is likely that those organizations that are most successful at harmonizing technology needs with human needs will be the ones to emerge from the current crisis with a stronger, more efficient, happier and adaptable workforce fully prepared to make the “New Normal” yesterday’s news.

While focusing on emerging technologies to better connect members of virtual teams, this article provides a cautionary tale about over-reliance on electronic communications, noting how the loss of natural human interaction normally found in a shared office environment can lead to misunderstandings, stress, and cooperation breakdown if not acknowledged and addressed personally. 

We provide tips from experts on specific steps managers and their employees can take to assure their new digital world does not undermine the value of their shared human experience. It is likely that those organizations that are most successful at harmonizing technology needs with human needs will be the ones to emerge from the current crisis with a stronger, more efficient, happier and adaptable workforce fully prepared to make the “New Normal” yesterday’s news.

CHAPTER SUMMARIES

 

Chapter 1

A Changing Perspective – Telecommuting to Full-Time Remote Offices

This first installment in a four-part series, “Work from Home – the New Normal,” addresses the business impacts of a sudden, unanticipated and unprecedented shift to work-from-home brought on by the covid-19 crisis.  It explores the changing attitudes of both management and workers as they cope with their new reality, including research and projections that examine both the drawbacks and benefits should businesses convert these temporary workforce adaptions into permanent workforce solutions.

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Chapter 2

Advancements in our Communication Technologies Drives New Ways to Work

This second installment of a four-part series, “Work from Home – the New Normal,” details the history of innovations that has transformed the way people work and communicate. The BYOD revolution, fueled by the convergence of Internet and cellular technologies and widespread consumer adoption of mobile devices, has all but eliminated the barriers between physical and virtual offices but also presents unique challenges for IT administrators. This article addresses those challenges with tips on creating an effective device management policy for your organization.

 

Chapter 3

The Rise of Digital Transformation & Impact on Collaboration Technologies

This third installment of a four-part series, “Work from Home – the New Normal,” examines the impact of digital transformation on enterprise communications, the resulting emergence of Unified Messaging as an IT strategy, and the continuing evolution into Unified Collaboration through multi-media and multi-channel cloud integration of voice, text and video. The article examines what an organization supporting a remote workforce should look for in collaboration tools available today, including how to safely bring SMS text into an enterprise environment.

 

Chapter 4

Tips to Help Your Remote Workforce Stay Connected, Reduce Stress and Achieve Performance Excellence

This is the last of a four-part series, “Work from Home – the New Normal,” and talks to the human side of managing a virtual workforce. While parts 1-3  focused on the need for, and value of, technology to create a unified, smooth-functioning remote workforce with  history, tips and recommendations, this final piece addresses steps both management and workers can take today to reduce stress and improve focus in order to maximize the productivity-enhancing, unifying benefits those tools are designed to deliver.