Though much of the sales team can attest to a year of incredible adaptation during the onslaught of COVID-19, their challenges and level of perseverance are being recognized in some industries and not in others. The digital economy is here, and the pandemic is proving it out right before our eyes. The world as we know it has not stopped moving; and though employees held to high expectations have managed the challenges of this digital transformation, business leaders are still left to consider how to better support all employees as they continue “business as usual.”
Enablement leader we’re talking to have shared that employee support has already most frequently come in the form of stipends or reimbursements for employees to craft supplied home offices–from desks and office chairs to computer hardware and software. Where companies fall short, however, is addressing the psychological deterrents in this new working environment. With more stressful time pressures and less direct validation (that might be organically offered in a shared workspace), employees are tackling the massive learning curve of how to do their jobs in isolation. Even for introverted types, the low levels of engagement are enough to hinder learning and progress in their careers.
Because word-of-mouth communication is effectively reduced to shared workspace platforms (i.e. Slack, Zoom), employees must simultaneously adhere to new paths and methods of information-sharing. Of course, while these technologies have significantly eased the initial transition to remote work, they have merely simulated a productive working experience for millions of people around the globe. Company leadership assumes levels of familiarity and comfortability for employees as they attempt to collaborate in these digital spheres. Unfortunately, adequate training and preparation has remained inaccessible, as workers are unclear about the kind of knowledge and skills necessary to continue their work online.
Certain industries have completely halted operations, but most have been thrust into new environments unlike what they had previously been accustomed to. Even for generations of employees traditionally considered tech-savvy, difficulties with these models have arisen: multiple national surveys released over the course of the pandemic indicated that younger office employees are struggling with the longevity of remote work than their older counterparts. A December 2020 study by the Pew Research Institute observes that out of 10,332 American adults, 42% of workers ages 18-49 found teleworking to be very difficult.
Gen X, millennial, and Gen Z employees have generally been more receptive to the flexibility of working from home, but these groups have also noted that they feel more negatively connected than before. In juggling the responsibilities of a job and parenting, as well as living through a public health crisis, little balance can be achieved.
As companies continue to plan for a post-vaccination world, they should do so with the input and wellbeing of their workforce in mind. In a year of pushing through the unknown, business leaders can use teleworking experiences to better inform the kind of support their employees need to succeed in any circumstance.
How have you responded? What ideas can you share?