We are still not aware of how the world is exactly going to change with the pandemic we are currently living. Many things are beginning to be seen as different because of the confinement, which is forcing us to stop, change habits, challenge habits, and adapt to the new situation. As always, the key for overcoming crises is to learn how to see them as opportunities instead of seeing them as losses.
One of the aspects that have been seen from different perspectives due to the lockdown is the one related to work life. It is true that many people had to stop their activities and find different ways of adapting, but it is also true that many have continued working from their homes. This is possible only because we currently have the technology of Internet and the almost universal use of laptops and smartphones; this has also helped to diminish the impact of the pandemic on the economy, which would have suffered much more without technology.
Many industries keep on with the activities and many workers keep receiving their salaries thanks to technology. For this reason, teleworking has become a reality. Not only freelance travelers that work from anywhere in the world, but also people used to the regularity of an office work have had to adapt to this way of working. This helps not only to save the functioning of economy, but also represents a potential improvement in companies’ productivity. From a survey developed in the United States, beginning in 2012 and still in course, it has been observed that the performance of an employee tends to improve in 4,4 % when there is a change into a telework strategy. This means USD 1,3 billion more every year for North American economy (Choudhury, P., Larson, B. y Foroughi, C., 2019).
This telework tendency, already gaining momentum before the pandemic (Lighthouse blog) and today a forced reality, allows us to realize that ICT represent an adaptability opportunity before an ever changing and unpredictable world, and that its presence in our life will keep on growing and strengthening. However, along with this widening of our perspectives on the functioning of daily work, come some challenges. These can be overcome if there is an intelligent use of ICT. Let us see two concrete examples.
Time management. After having the habit of working under the supervision of an immediate superior, one of these challenges of working from home has to do with time management. A person working from home gains time with this modality: they don’t have to commute to their office every day and have the advantage of getting the food in the same place where they are working. They just have to go from the desk to the kitchen if they want a coffee or a snack.
However, not having the structure of the labor day clearly limited and monitored by a superior may led the person to the tendency of working less some days and more others, which will bring times of stress because they have to update the
accumulated work; or they could work even more, which can bring tiredness and frustration. All of this can be managed in an intelligent way with technological tools that help to give structure to a task schedule, on a daily and weekly basis, allowing to establish reminders on deadlines or to-do tasks or for meetings. From this, the person will feel the satisfaction of fulfilling the established time-length, even if they use it in a different way during the day; the company will also know that the employees keep on giving their best performance, not minding that they are not being physically monitored all day long.
Social interaction and teamwor. Another important challenge has to do with the possibility of assembling everybody´s time in order to maintain a balanced teamwork. If teams are not interacting in the same physical space, how to assure that information gets on time and that the tasks are made in a coordinated way? If we no longer have physical interaction, how to read the signs that the body gives, the non-verbal language that most of the times is fundamental in the communication of a message? Only if the technological tools are wisely used, with the right timing, can these challenges be overcome
It is necessary, for instance, to know when the best moment is for making a voice call, which is faster and efficient, and when is best to have a videocall which can reveal those non-verbal signs. It is important to establish with clarity when we should have a meeting with the whole team and when it is better only the participation of two or three people working in a specific aspect of the project. It is also important to learn how to use technology for having those informal chats that brings human warmth to work interactions and that are so fundamental in emotional nutrition for employees in any company.
In addition, the use of flexible tools for the participation of all the team in a single workflow is important. There is thus the need for platforms made to store the information in the cloud and in real time, in order to maintain the fluent movement of organizations active.
All of this shows, among other things, that having a technological assistance is today a necessity, because these strategies, accepted very slowly by companies trying to improve their performance, are no longer just an option. ICT experts are today more essential than ever before, and even more ICT experts that at the same time understand the various needs of each industry and their particular work practices.