Was working remotely during the pandemic beneficial?

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Dhalham Mohamed-Ajaz

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Data Analytics Associate Dhalham has had to way he conducts work shaken up drastically since the arrival of Covid. But was the process of working from home beneficial? And what can we learn from the practices going forward?

Pandemic

The global pandemic has changed many common practices and aspects of life drastically; Most noticeably within education and the workforce. At first, it all seemed for the worst, however having gone through the majority of my final year at University and the Xander training remotely, I can now confidently say I am more prepared for the world of work, especially with the unforeseen technological aspects that come with it.

The main problem that came with working remotely for the first time was the difficulty in communicating, especially in a consulting role as opposed to being a student. Unlike students in virtual lectures, consultants heavily depend on communicating with other people, especially their clients, making the switch to remote working a big one. First, a new virtual system needs to be put in place to allow for communication, such as setting up a Zoom/Microsoft Teams environment, and the use of this system will need to be trained throughout the company. This could be even harder for graduates and associates who are new and training as consultants, as they are beginning their career in a remote environment.

It is a common practice in many teams generally to have daily meetings at any time of the day, for example Software Engineering teams have daily stand ups in the morning, which may be slightly harder to hold virtually. Also, the formality of these meetings may slightly change; some meetings that are less formal in person (such as a morning stand up) may feel more formal virtually, or even the other way around.

Communication

Communication in a meeting becomes even more difficult when there are more attendees in a virtual setting. For example, on a Microsoft Teams call, it is not possible to see everyone at the same time or easily (cameras must be scrolled through if desired), whereas in person everyone can be seen, and it is much easier to communicate with everyone within a large group.

Over time, communicating virtually becomes easier, and the time spent going through the initial remote phase actually becomes advantageous. The process of frequently setting up virtual meetings, and just using a technical system companywide such as Microsoft Teams better prepares us for using these systems in the future wherever we work. This is especially true for consultants that serve multiple clients; the flexibility of being able to meet both in person and virtually, as well as being able to adapt to a client’s technological requirements is important. Having trained and worked virtually makes all of these processes much easier.

There are also, ‘nice to have’ advantages of working from home, with the obvious ones being getting more sleep, and saving money and time on travel. Although, it’s a good idea to not overly take these perks for granted, especially with sleep! Working remotely has also made it easier to connect with people that are distant from us, as travel is not required. This was mostly evident in Xander’s remote training period, where I spoke to associates that were not in London at the time, and some not even in the country.

Overall, remote working during the pandemic was challenging, but most definitely beneficial. This phase has opened the door to new ways of working, and companies will now have a much clearer idea on both how and how much of remote working they want to adopt, making them more flexible as a company and giving their employees and clients a better experience.