While the effects of COVID-19 and coronavirus will have a lasting impact on healthcare, the economy and travel, Jessica Hodgson says she thinks it will be “inevitable” that businesses and organizations will go remote in some capacity during and after the pandemic.
Hodgson is the director of human resources for Later, which was founded as the “first-to-market Instagram scheduler in 2014.” It has operations in Vancouver.
Hodgson, who started working from home “about 80 per cent of the time” at the end of January when Later implemented a work-from-home policy, said the company actually went “fully remote” justr recently.
“We’re already familiar with, we’re already using the technology and have been using some remote best practices for some time. But we actually just made the call to go fully remote for the foreseeable future while some of this plays itself out,” she said, referring to the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, Hodgson said she doesn’t expect going fully remote to impact Later’s operations.
“I would say that having clear objectives in place, whether those are short-term or long-term for your people and having clear ways to measure whether those objectives have been met.”
For businesses and organizations thinking of letting employees work from home during the outbreak, Hodgson had a few recommendations: protect your boundaries while working from home, such as keeping your working space separate from your “sleeping space” or “TV-watching space”; take breaks; not letting your workday “transition forever” into the evening; and utilizing video conferencing.
“Some of the big focuses we’re are making sure that we’re utilizing video conferencing as much as possible, so it feels like you’re talking to a human being when you’re having a meeting,” she said. “A lot of the suggestions that I made to the team was about how to continue to stay connected to your team, which might be helpful or relevant in this circumstance.”
Hodgson said she also has a daily “meeting” with her team to discuss what they worked on the day before, what they will be working on that day and any issues they’re facing.
“If somebody on my team is continuing to carry over something day after day after day that they were supposed to be getting done, I can have a conversation with them about managing their workload, how available are they and are they getting their work done.”
But she said it’s also about “finding ways to accommodate people to work from home and trusting that they can get their work done and having conversations about it if they can’t.”
Later is a “cloud-based” business, Hodgson said, so all the employees need is a strong Wi-Fi connection and laptop.
But Hodgson said she’s been thinking about this idea of going digital during the pandemic if it could continue on afterward.
“I think it’s a really interesting idea. I actually thought about it this morning. I wonder if this is going to have an impact on commercial real estate or how many companies actually have physical spaces,” she said, adding that some companies have been “fully remote for years and years.”
Hodgson said she thinks its “inevitable.”
“This is an opportunity for organizations that may have been resistant to that idea to try it on for size,” she said. “It’ll be interesting to see what people’s responses are. I think it’s inevitable that there will be organizations that get the chance to experience it and say, ‘Hey, we have some benefits’ or ‘It wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be and our team loved it, so let’s keep doing it or let’s be more flexible.’”