How Remote Work is Shaping Enterprise Tech Adoption
Up until the recent decade, remote work was an uncommon concept. In fact, many people viewed it as an unproductive structure for large companies. It was common practice to think that office chatter and similar work hours led to a more productive workforce; however, the “fire drill” conducted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic showed that most businesses can successfully make the remote transition without any significant reduction in productivity.
As we emerge from the shadows of the pandemic into the “new normal,” companies are swiftly adapting to this workstyle by exploring different alternatives. Employees are adjusting their priorities to take on these new challenges. For those who were skeptical about working at home before, enterprise technology has become a source of help in countless ways. I estimate the current crisis has catapulted remote work and the technologies that enable it forward by about 5-10 years.
The Advancement of Remote Work Through COVID-19
Despite challenging many enterprises’ livelihood, the pandemic has encouraged many companies to efficiently prioritize critical operations and reconsider historical business practices, which may ultimately lead to higher profitability in the long-run. Much of our time and significant expenses were previously consumed by traveling, whether it be our daily commute to work or a flight across the country. Given the decrease in travel as a result of the pandemic, enterprises are compelled to reconsider the need for daily face-to-face meetings as well as the necessity of frequent business travel.
One concern that does arise from remote work is the lack of collaboration between remote teams. While in some cases this may be true, there is a clear solution: Virtual Reality (VR).
With video-conferencing, we often experience fatigue. This is caused by the strain of difficulty in reading body language, non-verbal cues, and silences through a 2D camera lens. Because VR is immersive by nature, it eliminates distraction by replacing the real world (our home or bedroom office) with virtual environments that are optimized for productivity. Within these virtual environments, we are present and focused in meetings, which ultimately improves our collaboration and critical thinking effectiveness.
Creating More Accessible Workplaces and Services
Much like how the break in the workforce for WWII led to more women being employed, a trend that continued in the post-war years, our current remote work setup can be advantageous for parents with childcare responsibilities. As the Adecco Group writes, parents “with childcare responsibilities are often unable to take on full time work unless they can work remotely.” Our new remote work setup now gives working parents the opportunity to complete their duties as an employee while being able to care for their children.
Remote working has also moved several much-needed services, especially medical appointments, online. Many of these accommodations that previously were not possible are now accessible for people with disabilities. According to the CDC, one in every four adults lives with a disability. And although these places may have the appropriate facilities, the commute is still daunting. Working from home has made these accommodations a standard for those who have been requesting them for some time.
Future-Proofing Business With Technology
While tech adaptations are rapidly evolving, there’s a bigger question that many enterprises have in mind: how do we prepare for the future? Now that our workforce is digitized, what is the best way to manage it? We can start with virtual training and education.
VR is a great tool for soft skill training. These skills are fundamental for workplace communication and for the most part, soft skills cannot be taught by reading a book or watching a webinar. These skills are imperative for success and employees must learn by doing.
VR provides the perfect avenue for fostering and improving the development of professional communication and business collaboration skills. As mentioned in one VR company’s video, “people need soft skills in order to effectively work together and communicate with others. Virtual Reality creates a deeper connection by eliciting feelings of empathy.”
Empathy is absolutely important to developing a positive workplace culture. If employees feel like they cannot communicate or connect with others, a company is setting itself up for failure. We need to have tough conversations. We need to be attentive when forecasting the future of our companies. We need employees who can easily communicate and respect one another.
One of the major pitfalls of remote work is rooted within the tribulations of training and soft skill development. While these skills may be tough to develop via email or a video call, VR provides the perfect avenue for their growth and development.
Our Mindset Moving Forward
Uncertainty is one of the many underlying reasons that is contributing to the unease many of us are experiencing. But perhaps these uncertainties aren’t all that bad when we take a step back to adjust our mindsets. Global business advisor April Rinne delivered a TEDx Talk titled “How to Navigate Our Uncertain Future,” in which she shared a concept called a flux mindset. It is the “ability to thrive amidst constant change.” We have the ability to take these technological tools to shape the environment into a future that previously existed only in science fiction.
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