Positive takeaways from remote working in the USA. What can you do to create robust new operating systems?

Plan to incorporate the positives of remote working in your business processes and operating systems

The months ahead present personal and professional challenges. What positive lessons have been learned during lockdown? Will USA office-based businesses change their predominantly nine-to-five culture?

Every economic shock leaves a legacy. The COVID-19 pandemic will be no different. The twentieth century ‘great depression’ generated a “waste not want not” attitude that defined consumer patterns for decades.

This time it’s a public health emergency that’s shattered the world economy. In only a few weeks, people have become accustomed to wearing masks, stocking up on essentials, cancelling social and business meetings, ending travel plans and working from home.

Traces of such habits will endure after the virus lockdowns ease, placing a brake on demand. On the supply side, manufacturers will be forced to rethink where to buy and produce their goods.

Office-based businesses have increased measures for teleworking and have become accustomed to flexible shift work, ushering in an enforced period of working from home as a part of people’s regular schedule.

Once effective work-from-home practices are established, are they are likely to continue?

Americans aren’t working from home

A large proportion of Americans never work from home. However, there may be elements of teleworking that have a lasting appeal to workers when the working world returns to business as usual. In the USA, the average commuting time is more than one hour a day. Many commentators suggest that lengthy commuting times make it difficult to achieve a positive work-life balance.

(Source: US census 2017)

During this century, there has been a rise in the number of Americans working from home, from 3% to 5%. Will the country's workforce - and businesses - discover benefits that accelerate this trend.

Here are some Key Remote Work Statistics (2020)

  • 40% of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule.
  • 16% of companies exclusively hire remote workers.
  • Companies allowing remote work have 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t.
  • 76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
  • People who work remotely at least once a month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive.
  • The number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005.
  • 4.3 million people in the USA work from home at least half the time.
    (Source: 'SmallBizGenius')

Remote work is becoming one of the most desirable benefits an employer can offer. The freedom to work wherever you want with more flexible hours is great motivation for people who don't like rigid office routines or tiresome commuting. Indeed, many workers are willing to forego vacations, pay rises, and even retirement plans for the chance to work remotely. 

Balancing work, family and leisure

Over the course of many weeks of working from home, businesses will be able to evaluate their productivity and managers will become used to working with remote staff. When the lockdown is lifted, will we elect to do more from home, and perhaps to eliminate or reduce commuting times? Perhaps we can make new school run and other family arrangements to improve work-life balance?

Technology firms have been able to adapt quickly to the mandated changes in distance working. But for companies outside the tech sector and those not yet ordered by health officials to enact social-distancing protocols, mandating work at home has been more complicated. To get the best from teleworking, recent adopters will need to look to technology to ensure their businesses are safe and efficient, and their staff both happy and fully productive.

Beyond the home, more of our familiar daily activities could be re-evaluated. Universities and schools will need to be better prepared to educate online when events limit access or force closure. Distance learning could evolve as part of more progressive educational programmes. We have even witnessed new distance government meetings, which is a potentially more productive format for dispersed committee meetings that traditionally involved a lot of travel and held in person in a far-away government building.

Gearing for a new operations model?

If it proves beneficial and desirable to the business to retain some of the flexibility (working locations and hours) that we are currently experiencing, then we will need to look beyond ad hoc arrangements (temporary home office set-ups) and daisy-chained systems (email, phone, text, MSM, etc). It is not only large enterprises that can take advantage of secure, centralized digital systems with automated document workflows.

If more people are to have access to company and customer data while working away from headquarters, security, compliance and responsible management are key issues that need to be addressed. Management ‘line of sight’ will need to be established and audit trails will become even more important. Copying files and duplication will need to be eliminated to manage risk and to assure compliance, as well as to embed efficiency by preventing the wasteful duplication of tasks.

We can help you to store, access, assign, share and approve documents and data, and to stay productive and fully connected with your team. Our systems are designed – for ‘normal’ times – to help customers achieve secure access from any location and to create maximum workflow efficiency.

If you learn any positive process management and efficiency lessons during this difficult enforced time of mass working from home, consider facilitating them further by using the right tools.

Our digital document management system integrates with all leading platforms and software. We are happy to provide some positive, practical advice based on more than 25 years' experience in Information capture and management.

We wish everyone a safe passage thru the challenges that face us all. Here are some features and benefits of remote working with Document Manager, our digital document management software that won Product of the year 2019.

  • Centralized access for all, with controlled access levels
  • Easy, fast search and retrieval functions
  • Easy document filing from remote locations
  • Assistance with a standardized approach and policies for working from home
  • Integration with Sage and all other leading platforms
  • Increased efficiency working with external agencies
  • Simple document sharing and routing
  • Automated workflows from input to finalization
  • Checkpoint and scheduling alerts
  • Customer Services still have access to queries and answers to questions
  • Annotations and document notes make collaboration easier
  • Compliance: no need to copy files or remove them from the secure hub
  • Environmentally friendly (Green)
  • Security and risk management: files are not duplicated
  • Retention and access: documents created at home are in Document Manager with retention assigned and appropriate access control
  • Auditable: all activity is user associated and time-stamped, which makes monitoring simple and removes the stress surrounding internal and external audits

We will try our best to help you find the right solution to maintain or improve your business operations and workflow. We can advise on how to enable your business to continue with minimum disruption to service, and help you to plan to retain any benefits of remote working using secure and efficient technology.

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