People worked from home before the pandemic, but the events of 2020 turned an asset into a necessity. Teams made the shift; Not everyone wants to go back now. For many, working remotely just makes sense. It’s not a passing fad, it’s here to stay. Whether you are an employer or an employee, you should know that.

In the first half of 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that 22.7% of working Americans were still working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is less than people working from home last summer when BLS first started collecting data.

People made the switch in 2020 to reduce their risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. The main benefit was staying healthy and helping other people do the same. However, as vaccines have become available and infection rates have fallen, many workers and employers continue to work from a location other than the office because teleworking has several benefits: better work-life balance, less commuting, healthier diets, and increased productivity.

However, a few months after the pandemic began, some workers were surprised by some harsh realities of remote working. While most people imagined relaxing hours on the beach or comfortably on the couch with the dog napping at their feet, the reality was very different.

Childcare obligations and work tasks do not always go together. For most of them, classroom schooling was not an option at the end of the school year, summer camps and many childcare facilities were closed. Parents had to look after their children while doing their work. Also blurry work schedules; Since the employees had flexible working hours, some felt that they had to be available longer. Face-to-face interaction has also decreased, and video conferencing does not provide the same level of interaction as daily face-to-face meetings with colleagues.

If your teams continue to work remotely in the future, use these tips to maximize productivity and engagement:

  1. Establish clear communication rules. Document and review exactly when and how employees should stay in contact.

  2. Clearly define the areas of responsibility. Many roles have changed over the past year. Make sure that duties and pay are still reasonable.

  3. Check in regularly. Managers should ask how their employees are doing and give feedback at regular intervals.

  4. Create connections between colleagues. Take virtual coffee breaks or regular team huddles. Make time for team building activities. It may feel artificial at first, but social connections are critical to long-term engagement.

  5. Provide the right tools for the job. Give them the hardware, software, office supplies, and other gadgets they need to do what you ask them to do.

  6. Frequently review data security procedures. It’s easy for employees to forget about cybersecurity issues when they’re in the privacy of their living room or a cozy corner of the coffee shop.

  7. Celebrate successes. Recognize individuals and teams who are achieving goals or creating growth.