The way we work has changed forever, and the way business operates must change too.

Matt Surkont, CEO of BlueSky

However, we need to make certain that we take our colleagues on this journey with us. As we look for better and more productive systems, we cannot forget that people are our most treasured asset. We need to bring them along on this journey, and ensure that they feel that they are valued members of the team; that we acknowledge them and their work, even if we can’t see them each day.

It is quite likely that working from home will be with us for far longer than the initial 21-day lockdown that was proposed. In fact, a Gartner survey in February showed that 70% of customer service and support employees want to continue working from home after the pandemic, while a FlexJobs survey released in September last year showed that 65% of respondents want to carry on working remotely for the long-term.

By the same token, a World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report released in October 2020 states that 84% of employers aim to rapidly digitalise working processes in 2021, including significantly expanding remote work.

Salesforce, Spotify, Twitter and Fujitsu, for example, have all already announced permanent work from home options for employees. Local employers Shoprite, RMB and Dimension Data, amongst others, have likewise indicated that they are looking at longer-term work from home arrangements.

Perhaps the biggest shift you need to manage when gearing up for potentially permanent work-from-home on a permanent basis is the change in mindset required to effectively manage a remote workforce.

For many people, productivity has increased now that they are working at home with no commutes and fewer disruptions. However, not everyone works comfortably unsupervised, and business leaders will need to be flexible and adapt their management styles and performance metrics to ensure you are getting the best out of your teams.

People are a company’s most valuable asset; they need to feel appreciated, secure, and part of a team. Cloud computing solutions provide the means to do this when your teams are working from anywhere.

These solutions include software suites that can safeguard employee health and wellness, a key issue during this time of isolation, while, at the same time, building trust with customers and employees. These applications also offer employees self-service tools they can use from anywhere.

These solutions are useful regardless of what stage of the transition to working from anywhere a company is in.

What is clear, as we enter year two of the COVID pandemic, is that organisations that haven’t already done so need to implement the technology infrastructure they require to keep them operating as normal – irrespective of whether we’re under lockdown or not.