After COVID-19 swept the globe, widespread changes were put into effect immediately, shifting the day-to-day lives of people worldwide. Businesses shut down indefinitely, schools closed their doors, and hospitals were overrun as COVID-19 ravaged communities and transformed industries overnight. Strict quarantine guidelines made it nearly impossible to leave your home, which meant people and companies alike had to adapt to ever-changing regulations by any means necessary.

Now, as COVID-19 cases begin to slow, social distancing regulations ease, and daily life regains some normalcy, several pandemic-induced changes seem to be standing firm. Although many are eager to re-enter social spaces, like restaurants, bars, and gyms, people have also begun appreciating at-home, virtual options.

For example, some businesses that shifted to at-home employment to flatten the curve have opted to remain remote long-term. Although abrupt and chaotic, the switch to online workspace revolutionized industry after industry, as employers began to understand the benefits of virtual offices. However, these changes have not come without complications, as some corporations struggle to adapt to at-home set-ups.

If you’re an employer looking to keep your team remote long term, read on for six potential workplace challenges and how to dodge them.

Collaborating

When businesses first began transitioning to remote work, employers worried about whether their employees could collaborate effectively without in-person meetings and check-ins. However, after a year of adapting and fine tuning, companies are thriving remotely.

Though there are roadblocks to digital collaboration, like potential miscommunication or lack of resources, there are also enormous benefits. Not only do many employees prefer at-home set-ups because of their convenience and flexibility, but management has noticed significant upticks in productivity and collaboration efforts.

Virtual office spaces like iPostal1 facilitate effective communication by giving team members access to meeting rooms and hot desks. Additionally, instead of being chained to a chair in a physical space, employees can jump into meetings or hop on video calls intermittently at their convenience. Because employees have more control over when and how they work, they can take additional time to respond, work around unexpected distractions, and apply a more transparent approach to collaboration. With this in mind, virtual offices have completely eradicated fears of widening distances between employees.

Anticipating changes

A significant challenge amongst working professionals, specifically managers attempting to keep workers calm and operations moving, is anticipating any future changes that may come. Guaranteeing business continuity during uncertain times can be challenging if you’re ill-equipped, which is why companies need to put together a crisis team. By electing people dedicated to facilitating response efforts, you can keep your business moving forward through unforeseen roadblocks.

Because of COVID-19, industry experts have learned how to navigate uncertain waters, keeping employees safe, comfortable, and productive by adapting to regulations and eventually predicting potential complications.

Ensuring employee safety

Another challenge in the post-COVID office is ensuring the safety of your employees by revamping health protocols and providing flexible arrangements for sick workers. Companies should have a detailed plan available to employees that outlines protocols and aid efforts should they fall ill. Luckily, remote work facilitates worker health because reduced face-to-face contact decreases the chance of contracting COVID-19 and other illnesses.

However, for those going back to in-person set-ups or utilizing a hybrid approach, there will need to be sanitary and safety measures for companies to sidestep potential outbreaks.

Employee productivity

There is no denying that positive employee experience leads to increased productivity, therefore benefiting your company’s bottom line. With these productivity benefits at the forefront of employers’ focuses, it’s critical to keep workers happy and engaged. A challenge for corporations utilizing remote offices will be maintaining employee satisfaction and promoting worker productivity without a physical check-in space.

Luckily there are several productivity-boosting routes employers can take to help workers navigate remote challenges. First and foremost, managers and team leads will need to communicate clearly and consistently with their employees to ensure they’re up to date on changes to regulations, projects, and responsibilities. Conduct routine check-ins, outline clear goals, and offer assistance when needed to keep operations on track.

Additionally, workplace leaders will need to ensure each employee has access to the proper tools and technology for continued productivity. Fortunately, there are plenty of digital cloud-based services available to connect remote teams and store project details all in one place. There are also services like Slack equipped with clock-in, direct message, and phone-based features that enable workers to communicate and collaborate in real-time.

Solidifying contingency roles

A substantial roadblock many companies faced during the pandemic’s peak was transitioning healthy employees into new roles quickly and efficiently when someone fell sick. For high-skill jobs, in particular, finding a replacement who could permanently or temporarily fill a brand new position was challenging for recruiters. Although COVID-19 cases have significantly declined, leaving companies with less unexpectedly sick employees, many higher-ups have begun solidifying contingency roles for emergency cases.

Before the pandemic, backup plans for important corporate figures weren’t a top priority. However, businesses are now preparing before disaster strikes, mitigating losses by proactively identifying specialized skills, interviewing potential candidates, and expediting training for current employees.

Security

Despite the undeniable benefits of remote workspaces, like flexibility and reduced overhead cost, some aspects of at-home employment are unavoidable. Unfortunately, having employees spread out amongst different homes can increase the threat of cyber attacks without proper protections. Unlike physical offices, which have high-quality security protections to fend off hackers and protect valuable information, at-home spaces are prone to security threats.

Thankfully, there are security measures corporations can take to ensure remote staff members are just as secure as on-site employees. You can utilize VPNs to encrypt important documentation, encourage employees to change their passwords frequently, and provide workers with company-allocated tech with malware protection installed.

Ultimately, businesses that continue remote operations will need to prioritize and scale up their cybersecurity department to ensure sensitive and private information is safe and sound.

Wrapping up

Although navigating work-life post-COVID isn’t a walk in the park, there are numerous beneficial solutions to workplace challenges. All in all, managers and team leads will need to keep employees up to date, communicate clearly to sidestep bumps in the road, and equip staff with the proper resources. Additionally, companies should proactively prepare for future disasters by forming crisis teams, having a contingency plan, and upping cybersecurity.