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What the pandemic teaches us about remote working

The 2020 global pandemic brought to light what the IT industry already knew – remote working can be just as productive as working in the office (if not more so).

While that’s a huge positive, there were several other lessons that both managers and workers can take from remote working in the last year.


1. We all need a little structure 

While your tech team may be used to working remotely, it probably wasn’t on the full-time basis that the pandemic forced upon us. In switching from a hybrid work week to a sole at-home structure, many of us struggled with the ability to separate our personal and work lives.

The lesson learnt?

We benefit from sticking to the same work routine, whether we are at home or in the office.

This includes:

  • Starting the morning with a non-work-related task (read: no checking emails before getting out of bed). It could be taking the time to enjoy a morning brew with breakfast, listening to a favourite podcast (as you might on the morning commute), or a refreshing walk or jog.

  • Breaking up the day into task-focused sections. Deal with your inbox first thing, and then devote a sizeable portion of time to focused work, with all notifications switched off.

  • Taking breaks. While lunch is a given, morning and afternoon breaks should be too – just as you would grab a coffee while in the office.

  • Choosing a finish time. Stick to it by switching off the work computer and/or phone.


2. Micromanaging is out, team trust is in

One of the best things to come out of forced remote work was overcoming upper management resistance. It’s finally evident that productivity does not suffer when employees dial in from home and have autonomy over their work day. In some cases, it can actually increase productivity.

The lesson learnt?

Rather than micromanaging, teams can be encouraged to project manage their own work days, and have some real decision-making power.

IT managers across the board also quickly learnt to measure success not in the number of hours employees put in, but in what is actually achieved.


3. Strong work relationships still matter 

Many employees struggled with feelings of isolation during the pandemic; some still continue to. While IT professionals are used to working in a semi-solo fashion, strong work relationships remain the backbone of team success. Some of those relationships may have taken a hit during remote work.

The lesson learnt?

Team members – both in the office and at home – need the right tools to foster these vital work relationships. The right video software is therefore essential to allow workers to have those face-to-face interactions (work-related and casual) no matter their chosen work location.


4. When it comes to work flexibility, it’s personal 

Flexible working arrangements are now expected to become the norm thanks, in part, to COVID-19. As such, IT managers must consider what they can offer their top tech talent in this area to ensure they stay.

The lesson learnt?

Work flexibility should be personalised. Team members with carer needs may want different start and finish times. Others may not have the right home set up and prefer to work from the office. Some might want to break up their work week according to tasks, for instance, three days designated as ‘meeting-free’ and devoted solely to coding.


5. Remembering to celebrate the positives

It’s really easy to pick up the phone or jump on Zoom when something goes wrong, be it a production issue or a bug blocking the latest release. But many teams and their managers failed to do this when things were going well.

The lesson learnt?

A part of daily remote check-ins should be celebrating what went right or was achieved the previous day, as well as simply expressing gratitude. An example: many agile teams use their sprint reviews to recognise a ‘Sprint Hero’. It can also incorporate personal milestones team members have reached or new things they’ve learnt. It’s a great way to foster team morale.


Always learning

Those are just five lessons the pandemic taught us about remote work. There are many more and we’re happy to keep learning, so if you’d like to share something your team has learnt about remote working that may benefit our greater Finite920 audience, please let us know.


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