In a climate of so many lost jobs, delineating the difficulties associated with working from home can seem trivial—or even spark feelings of guilt. However, the challenges of remote work remain very real, especially for the previously uninitiated, ranging from barriers to communication and collaboration, to innumerable distractions with entire families stuck inside, to increases in mental health issues due to isolation and reduced mobility—read here about why it’s actually only natural to go stir-crazy.
In response, businesses and service providers are quickly finding creative solutions to provide support and resources for staff and employers alike during an unprecedented time, and perhaps for the long haul. Drawn from PSFK’s recent research paper, here are five top ways companies are leveraging dynamic digital tools to create secure, productive and collaborative workspaces in a largely remote climate—potentially powering the next generation of anywhere work & productivity.
From Video to Virtual — With large percentages of the workforce operating from home—and many preferring for things to stay this way—businesses and solution providers are increasingly looking to not just simulate the office, but truly integrate it into the remote environment in new and improved ways. Accordingly, the next evolution of remote communication and face-to-face meetings is transforming from videoconferencing into fully-immersive, virtual spaces, which hope to enable the dynamic nature of interpersonal engagement and collaboration that exists in physical settings, often achieved through leveraging tech like virtual or mixed reality.
Square by Argodesign has even created a virtual window working experience, where WFHers can install a high-tech window screen into their space that digitally recreates the open-office atmosphere, allowing coworkers to work silently alongside one another, converse, hold meetings and more.
Anywhere Hiring — While many furloughed staff are looking for new opportunities, organizations can find it challenging to connect with and hire employees remotely, facing issues from recruitment itself and compliance to managing asynchronous workstreams. Thankfully, innovative services and tech-enabled platforms like AI are streamlining and automating many of these HR processes, creating a better experience for both new and existing employees regardless of whether they’re across the hall or the world, and helping companies access the best talent globally like never before.
Remote, for instance, is a service that simplifies how companies employ staff from all corners of the world, processing payroll, benefits, compliance and even taxes, acting as employer-of-record in the country where an individual employee resides.
Micro-Upskilling — As industries running the gamut experience rapid change, job skills and requirements are evolving as well. To help existing employees as well as students entering the workforce to quickly realign their skill sets to match these new expectations, business and institutions are adopting an upskilling approach, and encouraging the development of job-specific skills through both internal and external one-off courses and programs.
edX is a non-profit organization assisting 30 million upskillers worldwide, providing the opportunity to earn what they call a “MicroBachelor’s” degree—a flexible and affordable offering including computer science, writing, marketing, IT, and data science optimized for the mix of experience in demand today.
Cyber Culture — As individuals, teams and organizations adjust to remote work in the short-term and potentially on a more permanent basis, maintaining a strong company culture becomes more challenging. In lieu of a physical office environment and community that cultivates shared experiences and conversation, companies are turning to digital team-building and employee-directed bonus platforms to help cultivate connection.
Puzzle Break, a Long Island-based online escape room hub, created a desktop escape room experience to build virtual rapport, breaking staff down into teams and assigning them roles for an immersive experience while leveraging Zoom video-conferencing alongside file-sharing capabilities.
Mental Health Focus — Even before the events of 2020, companies were beginning to recognize the need to take a more active role in supporting their employees’ mental health. This priority has only accelerated as employees adjust to remote work while balancing the stresses of home responsibilities, economic concerns and isolation. To offer assistance with these challenges (millennials seem to be hit hardest of all when it comes to wellbeing during lockdown), companies are partnering with experts, offering access to resources and providing money to cover the cost of therapy sessions.
Wellbeings, for instance, is a network of 600 wellness consultants, ranging from yogis and meditation teachers to dieticians and doctors, who work with companies like streaming platform Spotify and women’s coworking space The Wing to host virtual experiential labs and teach mindfulness techniques to staff. Held during office hours, these programs are intended to alleviate collective stress and offer an opportunity for staff to reset.