New data on remote work across multiple sectors in Oklahoma offer timely insights into the impact of digital communication on human interaction, connectedness, and collaboration.
This impact will ultimately affect social behavior, work productivity, and organizational culture.
Interruption vs. Disruption
Understanding the "new normal" after COVID.
In the spring of 2020, efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 resulted in emergency work from home (WFH) requirements across the United States. As states throughout the nation now wrestle to implement phased reopening plans while facing surges of new COVID cases, business and organizational leaders are making decisions around how they will work in the short- and long-term.
In a time of unprecedented social distancing, the lessons learned about digital transformation and remote work have lasting implications on the future of social behavior and connections as well as workforce norms and expectations.
It is readily apparent that organizations globally are experiencing unprecedented alterations in business operations and workforce accommodation.
However, it is important to consider the distinction between disruption and interruption due to emergency events so that you may understand what has been temporarily altered versus what has been permanently transformed.
Interruption Halt in normal operation practices that will resume in the future.
Disruption Halt in normal operation practices that may never return.
The distinction is simple but has significant implications for the future of workforce development and practices.
Private business was better prepared to switch to digital communication than were governments and non-profits.
People found strong levels of connectedness despite social distancing requirements.
Access to quality internet is not true for everyone.
People were less connected to social organizations, friends, and their faith community than they were to their work and family connections.
People connected better through real-time interaction.
Organizations adopted existing platforms and processes more than they invented new ones.
Remote work has become a permanent way of life.
Three Immediate Applications
Formalize a new remote work policy, not just a COVID-19 policy. Many medical professionals and researchers say COVID-19 will be with us for a couple of years. Bring stability for the team by formalizing and communicating a modernized remote work policy. Of 550 respondents, 48% would like to see a new normal where they can telework a “few days a week.” A structure around this concept can bring additional health safety in the workplace while also enhancing the recruitment of high-performers.
Be intentional in creating interactions that are real-time, regular, and engaging. This will be key to preserving a productive and motivated workplace culture. The study found that when the pandemic arrived and the state of Oklahoma went through a partial shutdown, 43-47% of respondents stopped receiving a sense of connection through their social organizations or faith communities. As a result, the primary source of positive connectivity people experienced came from their place of work (60%). As the pandemic continues, we predict this will place a new level of expectation on businesses to consider the whole well-being of the employee.
Innovate during a crisis. Making changes to existing methods or long-standing processes can be uncomfortable and often face resistance. But crisis can create a prime opportunity to discover new practices and develop an organizational culture that is connected and innovative.
As emergency social distancing requirements dissipate, the positive experiences with digital communications will have a lasting presence in the future of people’s lives and work. The ability to meaningfully connect to others exists in digital communication platforms. In particular, the intentional use of Real-Time Interaction can positively increase the sense of connection to work colleagues, family, social organizations, and faith communities.
In-person interaction, work, collaboration, and relationships remain highly valued. But, as digital communication platforms and the methods for their use continue to improve, the transition to digital communication platforms will be more effective and incorporated into business models and the regular operating practices of organizations and employees.
Download the Report
Leaders in private business, non-profits, state agencies, and community organizations can use the findings from this study to better understand the impact of emergency work from home conditions on organizational culture, productivity, and the necessary adoption of digital tools due to extraordinary events.
From the Survey
There is no going "back to normal" now that we know what is possible.
Why should we?
There are too many benefits with the WFH business model that supports its continued use.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, our organization was stuck in the 20th century as far as communication.
We primarily used email and in-person meetings. Most of the time these methods were unproductive and ineffective.
We traveled significantly throughout the US previously but now that has been completely eliminated in favor of online forums.
The online efforts allow a much more
This guide draws upon the findings of the statewide case study as well as nationwide research of e-Mentorship among marketplace influencers to present key techniques and pro-tips to help you do just that while highlighting certain pitfalls to avoid. The current version available is designed for faith-based organizations. Download Using Tech to Connect.
Using Tech to Connect
About the Researchers
Training Your Team
Schedule the researchers to report the findings of this study to your organization.
Schedule a Focus Group:
Gather your senior team for a half-day focus group session lead by one of the researchers. We will explore with you the pitfalls, gains, and future applications to guide your team in establishing a new normal and to learn how to operate successfully with a virtual workplace.
Training Leaders of Virtual Teams:
Apply the lessons learned from this study and discover proven techniques that promote connectedness in remote teams.
Work and Digital Communication During COVID was a collaborative research study by Scott Klososky and Dr. Joel W. Harder.
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Oklahoma City, OK 73104