While some companies have struggled in the transition of adopting remote work polices, many startups already had flexible working options in place, and are finding themselves better prepared to continue day-to-day operations.
However, the sudden scale of remote work has meant new technology, different ways of communicating and developed workflows, providing startups with the necessary tools to finesse existing remote work policies. At the same time, recent circumstances have proved that working from home should not only be an employee perk, but a necessary protocol for companies.
Rather than remote work being viewed in a negative light, COVID-19 has created a mass experiment that can equip startups and entrepreneurs even further for remote work—which looks set to eventually become the norm.
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Here’s how working from home will change in the future for entrepreneurs:
Shift to software
As people become more familiar with the routine of remote work, face-to-face interactions are likely to be replaced with teleconferencing software. Tools like Zoom can facilitate distributed teams and have already seen a surge during the pandemic: Zoom’s daily users increased from 10 million to 200 million in only three months.
Similarly, VPNs (virtual private networks) will boom to allow employees to securely access data and intranets, regardless of the user’s location. Not only do VPNs provide access to business materials, they lower the risk of external threats that can enter networks via employees’ personal WiFi connections.
Teleconferencing tools, VPNs and other tech that is being utilized now will be optimized even after COVID-19, ensuring that the software can handle high volumes of users, and that it is tailored to business needs.
Unlike larger-sized companies, startups have the unique advantage of entering markets with pre-existing knowledge of technology and how to apply it to remote teams. They can use this expertise to get ahead of the curve and deploy remote teams faster and more efficiently.
The stark rise in technology will not compromise the importance of curating communities among remote teams, however. In fact, more so, startups will have to work hard to generate meaningful connections within their organization.
Startups are known and respected for having people-first values, where employee wellbeing is prioritized, and genuine interactions are part of the business model.
As Mark Mader, president and CEO of Smartsheet, believes, “Organizations must give people the confidence, transparency and information needed to be empowered. Tools alone don’t solve that.”
In the future then, leaders will have more responsibility to nurture teamwork and individual growth within their teams. They will have to set up frequent touchpoints with remote staff to really build team momentum and motivate their teams to work as a collective.
Another point to consider is that COVID-19 has caused many consumers to rethink what they need versus what they want.
Following the pandemic, there may be a greater demand for sustainable, responsible and empathetic startups that actively help their customers and the planet. As markets become more conscious about ethical business, distributed teams can be on the ground in different places, collecting data, interviewing locals and implementing solutions directly. Remote teams can therefore be the channels to enact real, positive change.
Working from home expectations
COVID-19 is making companies of all sizes rethink how they approach remote work. What was once seen as a luxury is now being considered a long-term solution. After the pandemic, employees are likely to request or expect remote work as a readily-available option.
Moreover, demand for remote positions is likely to go up, as data from MeetFrank shows that remote work offers have nearly doubled since January, while applications have boomed by 105 percent.
To stay relevant in increasingly competitive markets, startups will need to be up-to-date with changing employee preferences, while reviewing internal workflows and tooling on a regular basis. Remote employees will equally need specialized training to complete their jobs confidently and securely from home and be given clear guidelines or limitations around remote policies.
While many startups are in the position of having experience working within remote teams, they, like other businesses, will still have to adapt and react to the working trends that emerge as a result of COVID-19.