A Cisco report released Wednesday identified six key business lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic. The unprecedented nature of COVID-19 caused businesses to make critical decisions never before faced, resulting in attitudes and practices that will remain well past the pandemic.
SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
The report, titled A New Perspective in the Modern Workplace, was conducted by Freeform Dynamics on behalf of Cisco between late 2019 to May/June 2020. The research explored the significant impact COVID-19 had on the enterprise, particularly with the change in working behavior.
One of the most blatant effects the coronavirus had on the working world was reflected in the acceleration of remote work. The enterprise has an average of 4.7 times more home workers now compared with before the pandemic, the report found.
This transition came with growing pains, forcing organizations to quickly provide the technological infrastructure and resources necessary to conduct work from afar. Despite those challenges, nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents said their businesses will in some ways emerge stronger from the crisis.
To help ensure all organizations come out stronger, the report identified the following six lessons for companies to consider.
Six key lessons post-COVID
1. What business agility really means
The coronavirus provided a big lesson in agility companies, as they had to be agile to adapt and respond quickly to changing events. This situation made companies realize how important it is to be comfortable with change and willing to shift gears when necessary, the report found.
For many organizations, the shift unveiled the gaps and weaknesses in their businesses, helping them to pinpoint to errors and improve them for the future.
2. The real value of modern technology options
The virus also emphasized the importance of technology, as tech was relied on more than ever for companies to conduct work. The majority of respondents (67%) said they agree or strongly agree that the pandemic accelerated their adoption of cloud-based communications, collaboration, and productivity tools, the report found.
More than half (58%) of respondents also said they ended up using technology that was already available to them but previously rejected or ignored, forcing organizations to recognize the tech they had been wasting.
Ultimately, respondents confirmed that digital collaboration tools are the new normal and will remain a staple well after the pandemic, particularly video conferencing.
3. The true nature of workforce productivity
Working from home revealed how many distractions there are in the office, according to the report. Many respondents found themselves more productive in their home environment without the interruptions they had in a physical office.
This way of work has also caused many healthy practices to surface, many of which respondents believe will stay after the pandemic. Some of these practices that will stay include businesses being more trusting and empowering of employees (53%), managers increasing flexible working hours (49%), virtual teams working across locations and departments (38%), and agile teams forming and disbanding around specific activities (37%).
4. The essential nature of social interaction
While digital collaboration tools have become critical to remote work and will remain post-pandemic, the new way of work also unveiled the need for social interaction for humans, the report found.
Some 64% of respondents cited a loss of informal kitchen and watercooler-style exchanges as a challenge. To try and mitigate this gap, respondents said they host social video conferencing meetups (67%), social chat channels (54%), news catch-ups (46%), and interactive competitions (36%).
5. The future of health and wellbeing
The virus has naturally had a huge impact on health and wellbeing. Working from home, some 76% of respondents said they find it hard to maintain work-life balance. Some 73% of managers said a big challenge for them was maintaining staff, momentum, and morale, the report found.
However, the increases in these challenges have placed them at the forefront of organizations’ thinking, forcing them to find ways to handle them.
Some 47% of employees believe that as a result employee wellbeing and work-life balance will have increased emphasis long-term. More than half (56%) said the same for employee engagement, the report found.
6. The extended talent opportunity
Remote work has also resulted in remote recruitment and hiring, but companies are beginning to see the value of this widened talent pool.
Half of respondents said they believe that the increased acceptance of remote and flexible working would almost certainly or probably lead to a more inclusive recruitment policy, and to recruitment of individuals from a broader geographical area even after the pandemic, the report found.
The report recommended business pros take all six of these lessons into account moving forward to help boost their workplace maturity and resiliency.
For more, check out The rise of the digital workplace and the new future of work: Experts weigh in on TechRepublic.