By Matt Alder

2020 will be remembered for many reasons, but perhaps one of the remarkable consequences of the pandemic is just how much and how quickly the world of work has changed.

When the national lockdown started in March, it was amazing to see just how fast those employees who could work from home were able to be back up and running and productive, despite sometimes challenging circumstances in terms of space and childcare.

Over the last few months, employers have been using software like Zoom and Teams to closely replicate how people worked when they were face-to-face in the office.

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As well as the dangers of burnout, there is also a new kind of presenteeism here. Is that 9am all-hands team meeting necessary and productive, or is it just there to make sure everyone is at their desk at the start of the traditional working day?

Working from home will most likely continue for some time yet, and many employers are already signalling a permanent move to a blended mix of office and home working. Taking the long-term view here, it is clear that we need to reinvent the way we do what we might have previously referred to as office work for this new era.

If remote working is our future, employers must consider employee welfare and productivity at the same time. If they do, there will be big wins for everyone involved.

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Several highly-successful companies in the technology sector – such as WordPress owner Automattic and NetGuru, the Polish software development and software consultancy – are leading the way here. They have embraced asynchronous ways of working that reduce meetings to a minimum by using software platforms that allow employees to contribute to projects at the times that work best for them.

Asynchronous work technologies aren’t yet perfect, but it is inevitable that they will rapidly improve in the future as the market develops to meet demand. Put simply, asynchronous communication is when you send a message without expecting an immediate response, and is based on the premise that when it comes to team communication, faster isn’t always better.

While these technologies are still evolving, there are other simple solutions that employers can implement in the meantime to help both wellbeing and productivity. These include designating full days or even full weeks as meeting-free, carefully challenging the purpose of every Zoom or Teams call to see if it is actually necessary, and encouraging people to switch to old school voice calls and go for a walk while they are meeting. All are very positive first steps.

Matt Alder is the producer and host of The Recruiting Future Podcast