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The past year has been challenging. From lockdowns and homeschooling to remote work, the pandemic has changed our business direction, attitudes, and behavior. We’ve made critical decisions we never thought we’d need to make, and the resulting changes and practices will be part of the “new normal” long after the pandemic fades away.

A recent report from Freeform Dynamics, prepared for CISCO and titled “A New Perspective in the Modern Workplace,” explores the impact COVID-19 has had on businesses, including changes in work behavior.

The Lessons We’ve Learned

This report identified and helped to clarify the changes that can help businesses to come out of the pandemic stronger. Here are some key lessons to consider as we move forward.

  1. Agility is Critical – COVID-19 taught us the importance of agility and adapting and adjusting quickly to rapidly changing events. This unprecedented event helped companies realize the importance of being able to quickly shift business models when necessary.
  2. The Value of Technology – We learned the importance of technology. Remote work accelerated the adoption of technologies like cloud-based communications and collaboration and technology-based productivity tools. The report found 58% of respondents said they ended up using technology already available but previously rejected. These tools will remain post-pandemic, especially video conferencing.
  3. The “New” Measure of Productivity – Working from home raised attention to the number of distractions in the office. Many workers found themselves being more productive working from home without the typical office “distractions.” Remote work also helped identify practices that will stay in place, like the increased trust of team members by management, flexible time, cross-team and cross-department collaboration, and team agility.
  4. The Benefits of Social Interaction – While digital tools have helped us get through this and will continue to help post-pandemic, this “new normal” has reinforced the need for social interaction. The report found that 64% of respondents were challenged by the loss of “water-cooler interactions.” To mitigate social distancing, many respondents turned to social video conferencing, social chat channels, and online interactive competitions to cope.

As we move through the end-stages of COVID-19, challenges will remain, and new ones will pop up. The lessons learned have changed how we conduct business, measure productivity, and the importance of a better life/work balance. Moving forward, businesses need to take these lessons into account and use what we’ve learned to boost efficiency and resiliency in the future!