The emergence of COVID-19 as a world-wide pandemic in early 2020 forced employers across the United States (and around the world) to conduct one of the greatest workplace productivity experiments of all time: a mass shift to remote work. Within days, employees who regularly showed up at offices found themselves challenged by working remotely, depending heavily on technology infrastructure and virtual collaboration tools to stay connected and get work done. Many of those collaboration tool vendors were also forced to scale their platforms as they were dealing with their own internal restructuring. One year into the grand experiment, we must take the best of what we’ve learned during the pandemic and use it to drive innovation and productivity going forward.

The future of work is hybrid and productivity doesn’t always require in-person interaction; however, every agency and company is different and must define its own version of success. The pandemic accelerated many business trends that were already underway, including work-from-anywhere models enabled by digital platforms. A U.S. Federal Chief Human Capital Officer recently opined that the digital acceleration over the past year with respect to the federal workforce would have taken nearly 10 years during non-pandemic ‘normal times’.

Of all the stakeholders, leaders have the biggest change ahead of them. In addition to their own workplace flexibilities, managers realize that managing employees and specific work outcomes in a virtual environment also presents new challenges. Leaders play a role in helping their employees manage work-life balance and if agencies don’t take the time to actually select people who have great management potential and they don’t invest in coaching and training them up to be good managers, they’re going to have a very difficult time doing it in a virtual world.

Leaders need to understand the different factors that can facilitate an effective work-from-home or hybrid model. It’s important to track core productivity metrics to understand how different models are working and to know which levers to activate to improve performance. The hybrid model will also allow them to increase diversity in their hiring, open up more opportunities for existing employees, and lead to higher quality candidates. We need to lead differently going forward, learn from this global experiment, and become even more productive in how we work. Every organization can benefit by providing learning opportunities, clear performance expectations, and growth tracks for employees to grow at work, no matter where they work. Innovation happens in lots of ways, and we’ve learned that people don’t need to be together to come up with great ideas. Communication and access to important information must be streamlined, automated, and even  forward predictive. Let’s pledge to continue the momentum, expand the use of digital platforms and collaboration tools, and allow maximum workplace flexibility.

About Chainbridge Solutions
Chainbridge Solutions Inc. is an SBA 8(a) certified, woman-owned small business, building automated workflow solutions for the Federal Government and private sector with the use of Low Code Application Platforms. Chainbridge Solutions specializes in legacy application modernization through an agile methodology focused on human-centric design, strong customer engagement, and rapid delivery of results through an iterative approach. Chainbridge Solutions brings strong expertise in the Human Capital, Personnel Security, and Investigative domains. Leveraging emerging technologies such as machine learning and robotic process automation, Chainbridge Solutions delivers smart, measurable, innovative solutions that offer business automation, optimized workflow, improved customer experiences, and overall cost savings and efficiencies.