What Will Post-Pandemic Work Look Like? Business Leaders Share Their Thoughts

Managing remote teams is a new struggle for many businesses because of the COVID-19. Business leaders share their predictions for what the workplace will look like post-pandemic.

Air Date: May 13, 2020

Moderator: Jeanette Mulvey, Editor-in-Chief at CO—, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: Annie Eaton, CEO, Futurus, Kenny Nguyen, CEO and Co-Founder, ThreeSixtyEight, Mobolaji Sokunbi, Head of Strategic Partnerships and the Center for Entrepreneurship, Dell Technologies

When the first wave of coronavirus hit the United States, countless businesses were forced to halt in-person operations and move towards managing remote teams. Months later, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these changes are not just temporary measures but will continue to shape post-pandemic work as well.

In conversation with the Chamber of Commerce, business leaders share the lessons they’ve learned from managing a remote team, alongside their predictions for what workplaces will look like in a post-pandemic world.

Remote Team Management Requires Consistent Communication and Accountability

Kenny Nguyen, CEO and co-founder of ThreeSixtyEight, noted that the frequency of communication has increased significantly since managing his team remotely. As a result, Nguyen also found that his team required fewer meetings: many issues could be resolved by a quick Slack chat or directing team members to predetermined protocols.

Meetings and in-person work inherently carry a degree of accountability. With this, leaders need to place greater trust in their remote teams, but they also need to hold them accountable, said Nguyen. This may look like implementing new measurement and tracking tools, as well as setting and communicating clear expectations for employees.

Virtual Communication Channels and Home Desk Solutions Can Help Small Business Owners Stay Connected

Small businesses often don’t have the same resources and may be more reliant on in-person work and communication, than larger corporations. Fortunately, smaller companies can still easily leverage technology to stay connected with their teams and customers.

Mobolaji Sokunbi, head of strategic partnerships and the Center for Entrepreneurship at Dell Technologies, found that small businesses are increasingly relying on video conferencing and chat apps to improve communications.

Sokunbi also emphasized the need for small businesses to invest in home desk solutions, including applications and technology like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, to ensure everyone has the tools they need to successfully collaborate and work from home.

The Right Tools and Software Will Boost Productivity for Remote Teams

When it comes to streamlining processes and boosting productivity from the home office, equipping employees with the right tools can make all the difference. For example, Annie Eaton, CEO of Futurus, uses Trello in her office.

“People can check things off themselves, so I don’t have to constantly micromanage them,” she said. “It puts a little more of that trust in them … but then I also get the feedback I need.”

Eaton also predicted that more and more businesses will begin using virtual reality (VR) to support meetings, allowing people to feel more connected than they would over a video chat.

Physical Offices May Shift Toward Communal and Coworking Spaces

With some employees already indicating a preference for continued remote work, physical office environments will likely look different post-pandemic.

“Physical offices will become [a] more communal space that’s conducive to remote working interactions,” said Nguyen. “You’ll see the private office go away a little bit more, and there will be more open spaces where people can interact and collide.”

Nguyen also predicted that coworking spaces will become an increasingly popular option for companies looking for more flexible work settings.

Encouraging Employees to Take Control and Set Boundaries Are Key to Preventing Burnout

As teams continue to work from home, the lines between work and home life can easily blur, and employees can burn out faster than they typically would under normal circumstances.

One strategy to combat burnout is giving employees a project over which they can take ownership and ultimately control — even if it’s just a small internal project, said Eaton.

Flexible work schedules can also go a long way in giving employees control and better balance between their work and home lives. Futurus allows employees to work outside of typical office hours, as long as they attend meetings, respond to communications and complete their work.

“I am putting a lot of trust in them,” Eaton added, “but they have also in turn proven that they can be trusted and still produce great quality of work.”