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28 Apr 2020

Are We Prepared For Remote Work To Be The New Normal?

In a few short weeks, working remotely has shifted from a nice-to-have to an essential way of working. But are we prepared to cope in the long term?

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Hard to believe that just a matter of weeks ago, we were going to work as usual. We had our daily routines with the same people, in the same environment, drinking the same coffee day after day.

Then along came Covid-19. Suddenly, going to work was off the table. Amid the drastic changes to our personal lives, we were all scrambling to put together some alternate way of working in order for our businesses to survive. We were told to work from home if possible, and hopefully most of us have found a way to make it work. In times of crisis, we do what we have to do.

But remote work is part of our new workplace reality. Social distancing is going to be with us for the long-term, even when lockdowns are lifted. The virus is still out there, and we still have to protect ourselves. On top of that, there's this statistic: a 2019 study on the State of Remote Work reported that 99% of remote workers wanted to continue to work remotely, and 95% recommend it to family and friends.

So, remote work has been thrust upon us and looks like it's here to stay, and workers want it that way. But how do we prepare for remote work to be effective?

Remote work and our well-being

In 2012 Google engaged in Project Aristotle to identify the characteristics of successful teams in the workplace. Results identified the most important characteristic as psychological safety - feeling safe to speak up and contribute ideas without fear of being embarrassed or seeming incompetent. Feeling connected by mutual respect and trust among our coworkers is a critical part of our workplace needs. In order to develop these connections, we need quality social interactions. According to behavioral scientist Sarah Ellen O'Farell, social interactions among a team - including remote teams - is the defining quality that leads to organizational success. "The organisations that develop ways to facilitate 'deep relationship building' amongst their remote workers and in their geographically dispersed teams will unlock a significant amount of competitive advantage within their operations. Individuals bond with each other and to their work through daily social interactions. Natural unplanned conversations form connections that premeditated email and text cannot. Sometimes those casual, spontaneous exchanges are where our best ideas come from. As O'Farell says, "Real value is created through bottom-up exploration - the type of exploration in which you serendipitously encounter new people and ideas, exposing you to perspectives and opportunities that you never would have anticipated."

The way forward

For remote work to succeed, we need a tool designed around our emotional needs as well as our functional needs.

Over the last few decades a lot of thought has been put into the architectural design of our office spaces and how to create a culture that gives workers what they need and want to be successful. The challenge now is to take all of the work that we have put into building teams and organizing space and carry it into a virtual environment, where individuals are dispersed into their own locations and lack the face-to-face interaction we have depended on for so long.

Our current tools for remote work can't deliver the social culture, fun dynamics and comradery of an office. The ease of natural spontaneous communication, where some of our best ideas are born, is difficult if not impossible to reproduce in a group video meeting.

The solution

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That's why we developed Remotely, a 3D platform based on interactive gaming principles to replicate those human interactions in a stunning virtual world. It combines our familiar tools with spontaneous, fun and natural communication, giving us the solution to not only being connected but feeling connected.

Personalized avatars even take it a step further than the office, allowing us to present our unique selves without being limited to a dress code or suit-and-tie standards. You see your coworker's avatar sporting the hot pink suit and spiky hair, you know something about them you wouldn't have gotten in an office. And proximal audio capabilities give you the option to pass by and say hello and compliment their style. We can get to know each other even though we may be on opposite sides of the world.

With Remotely, the social interactions that contribute to our feeling of belonging, our satisfaction with work, and our mental wellbeing are now available even when we can't be face-to-face.

Trial a free version of Remotely today and see how it can enhance your remote work team.