There is no counting the amount of goofy, fishy ads floating around the web that promotes how to ‘make money online’ and ‘work from home’. Having spent a lifetime side-stepping and avoiding this kind of spam and cyber junk, it has been a seemingly endless quest with a keyboard. But suddenly the pandemic of 2020 has turned millions of office workers into people who make money online and work from home! The need for social distancing has flipped so much of what was our normal into something different.
Space work helps home work
Great companies have great employees. As humans, we’re naturally social and do well when we can work together as a group. A recent examination of differences between successful NASA missions and how teams interacted makes for an interesting study. One of the big factors being the comfort and ability all members had to work as a collective, rather than a hierarchy. A collective sense of accomplishment helps fuel success. Strong team work is held together by strong human bonds.
Now, after many months apart here on earth due to COVID-19, it’s understandable that everyday workers can feel a growing space between them. Gone are quirky water cooler conversations, chats in the kitchen or big boardroom meetings. It means many old ways of coming together has come apart. At least for now. And many companies are suffering for it.
The struggle for businesses to find ways to bring people together while the current pandemic forces them apart relies on mainly video conference, group chats and email. But this method of communicating, while effective at a functional level, removes a fundamental aspect of the human experience; physical interaction in the same space. Being together helps forge stronger bonds, teamwork and understanding of your coworkers. It is hard to replicate that personal experience through the protective shield of a webcam.
With many people no longer heading into the office each day, they’ve become like self-employed people working a home-based business. When you’re the only person in your workspace at home, it kind of feels that way. Finding more advanced, adaptive and creative ways of maintaining and growing a sense of teamwork, while apart, is one of the keys.
Time and talent
It is not just that millions of people are doing away with their stressful commutes – either in traffic or transit. Workers are also avoiding needless conference meetings, unproductive tasks and interruptions. Being able to focus on your job goes hand-in-hand with being given the right tools to work remotely from home. Helping employees be productive and motivated is essential.
A recent item in the Harvard Business Review looked at employee productivity and the impact of the pandemic. And the answer depended primarily on one of the bedrocks of capitalism; run a good business. If companies were successful and well run before the pandemic, chances are, they were able to adapt on the fly to keep pushing ahead. Those that were unable to adjust fast enough or not at all have often lost productivity and profitability.
Survival of the fittest
The Harvard study found companies focused on weathering the crisis through adaptive measures were as much as 40% more productive over those that weren’t. Much like animals in their changing environments, when change is forced upon companies, having the mobility to adapt and adjust is paramount.
Technology, while essential, is not enough to fuel a distanced workplace to success. As the NASA study showed, finding ways to keep individual people engaged and motivated, even at a distance, is possible. That includes adapting talents to the changing workplace and allowing people to achieve success, regardless. And success that is felt collectively as a company, even as people work at a distance, is one of the biggest lessons learned in space we can use here every day.