Collaboration

Adapting to our new remote-work reality

Trying to navigate rapid workplace change? You're not alone. Slack’s services partners can help

By the team at Slack3rd June 2020Illustration by Pete Ryan

Even before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, knowledge workers worldwide were gravitating toward new ways of working.

While it might seem like Covid-19 precipitated the work-from-home movement, the shift to remote work was already well underway. Three-quarters of knowledge workers surveyed by Slack and market research firm GlobalWebIndex for our 2019 State of Work report said their employers permitted remote working in at least some circumstances.

However, the pandemic has indisputably accelerated and amplified the remote-work trend. And as states gradually ease shelter-in-place restrictions, “business as usual” will look profoundly different.

Because we’re all going through this great transformation together, we can’t—and shouldn’t—try to navigate it alone. That’s why we created our services partners program to help teams make the transition, while also making the most of their investment in Slack.

Remote work is here to stay

A mere handful of weeks after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, more than 16 million U.S. knowledge workers transitioned to remote work. That number grew as more states instituted stay-at-home orders in late March and early April.

Fast-forward several months to May, and many companies show no signs of returning workers to the office. Twitter and Square have told their employees that they can work from home indefinitely, while Facebook and Google have extended their work-from-home policies through the end of the year.

The remote-work trend isn’t limited to tech companies. In our own survey on remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic, we found that the majority of U.S. knowledge workers, including those with jobs that are difficult to do remotely, expect their companies to adopt more remote-work-friendly policies after the pandemic ends. This suggests that our current workplace normal may be a taste of our new workplace future.

Adapting to remote work takes time and the right technology strategy

If remote work is the new normal, how are workers adapting? While U.S. knowledge workers largely welcome the shift to remote work, companies should expect some growing pains. Our study shows that first-time remote workers can feel overwhelmed, disconnected and distracted initially. The good news is that experience and the right technology can make a big difference.

When we surveyed remote workers, we found that:

  • Working from home can boost satisfaction: 60% of those working remotely are more satisfied overall with working at home than in the office.
  • Working remotely doesn’t mean that productivity will take a hit: 76% of remote workers say they are equally or more productive working from home than in the office.
  • Remote workers need time to adapt: Those who are new to remote work may experience declines in productivity, communication and their sense of belonging. Fortunately, those effects aren’t permanent. People who’ve worked from home for more than one month have found tools and strategies to improve performance and connection.
  • Technology can help: When remote teams have a tool like Slack, they’re more productive, feel more connected and report higher rates of workplace satisfaction than teams without a collaboration platform.

It’s important to keep in mind that the majority of those working remotely are more content working from home than in the office. But there is a learning curve. With the right policies and technology, company leaders can ease the transition and ensure that remote work is both productive and fulfilling.

Slack’s services partners can help companies adapt

This new way of working demands a layer of technology that connects teams with each other and the software they rely on every day. But collaboration tools, including Slack, are only valuable when they’re used effectively. Our services partners offer a broad range of solutions to help companies deploy Slack across their organizations and make the most of channel-based messaging.

While there are many things that we don’t know about what lies ahead for knowledge workers, we do know that siloed communication, fragmented systems and disconnected employees simply won’t cut it anymore. As we all learn to navigate these times of great change, we also have an opportunity to reimagine how work is done. Developing a strong collaboration solution now can position companies to nimbly adapt in the future.

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