Making the Best of Working from Home
Sean McGauley

By: Sean McGauley on December 10th, 2020

Print/Save as PDF

Making the Best of Working from Home

Collaboration  |  Sharepoint and Office 365

You know that saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? It’s something I try to live by. I’m a self-proclaimed eternal optimist and always try to look for the positive in everything. If you do it often enough, you’ll soon find that there is always a positive way to look at things. It won’t always turn the bad completely good, but it will always put a positive spin on it and make it easier to handle. Finding even a glimmer of hope through positivity can be enough to pull you through.

This year, life didn’t just give us lemons; it basically gave us a sea of lemons. The unexpected COVID crisis hit and changed…well, everything. In business, organizations were forced to rethink how they view remote work, remote workers, and the systems used to support them. And for the majority, we were unprepared:

Only 34% of the organizations surveyed reported that their organization was “very prepared” for remote work prior to COVID.*

Today we’re going to look at this overwhelming sea of life’s lemons and see if we can’t squeeze out at least a glass of lemonade!

Get Your Free Report: Mastering Your Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Investment

COVID and Worker Productivity – Two Sides of the Coin

What happened to workplace productivity after the pandemic hit? Well, according to AIIM’s research, it depends…

It depends on the type of work:

Some 75% of employees said that during the first few months of the pandemic, they have been able to maintain or improve productivity on their individual tasks (such as analyzing data, writing presentations, and executing administrative tasks).

On collaborative tasks (including exchanges with coworkers, working in Microsoft Teams, and interacting with clients), the number is lower.*

For some, the pandemic has helped improve productivity for individual tasks but lowered productivity for collaborative tasks. In fact, difficulty collaborating beat out home duties like childcare as the number one reason people give for being unproductive as they sheltered in place.

It also depends on who you ask:

AIIM’s research revealed that an overall preparedness for COVID-driven remote work demands – likely also a reflection on organizational attitudes toward employee engagement and remote work in general – directly impacts a variety of measures relative to effectiveness.

The performance premium that remote work, collaboration, and agility provide – particularly in times of emergency – is even more evident when looking at particular types of work. Overall, the BLS estimates that 46% of those employed have the potential to telework (US data). Among those able to work remotely, there was a 6.2 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate between February and April; for those unable to work remotely, the percent point increase in unemployment was 14.3 – a significant difference.*

Of course, it should be noted that not every job lends itself to remote work. But the key consideration is that some organizations were just unable to adjust to remote working. These organizations weren't adequately prepared and lacked the core systems to support collaborative work.

How Did the Prepared Prepare?

So, what about those organizations that did have systems to support collaborative work? How did these organizations prepare?

The data shows that organizations that had already begun a digital transformation were better prepared for a crisis – the majority through effectively managing information through Microsoft 365 (M365). 

  • Overall M365 effectiveness for COVID-prepared organizations is almost a full letter grade higher than those who were unprepared (2.80 vs. 2.19)*

  • Prepared organizations report significant Microsoft Teams use prior to COVID (49%) vs. only 23% for unprepared organizations*

  • Among COVID-prepared organizations, 59% say their average knowledge worker is knowledgeable about Microsoft Teams capabilities vs. only 22% at unprepared organizations*

  • Project Cortex familiarity (AI capabilities within M365) is significantly higher at COVID-prepared organizations (45%) vs. 19% at unprepared organizations.*

Clearly, organizations that were able to make as large a percentage of their work “remote-able” as quickly as possible benefitted from that agility.

Microsoft and MS Teams Growth

Microsoft 365 – and Microsoft Teams in particular – have benefitted from the rush to fill the gap, with 77% of the organizations saying that Microsoft Teams usage had “increased” or “increased significantly” as a result of COVID. On an earnings call in early May, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted that during April, driven by the need for organizations to quickly come up with a remote working and collaboration platform, the Microsoft Teams platform added 31 million new daily users – in a single month. 

Rising Appreciation for the Importance of Remote Working - AKA "Making Lemonade"

So, what does all this tell us? First, if your organization was one of the unprepared, take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. A quick reminder:

Only 34% of the organizations surveyed reported that their organization was “very prepared” for remote work prior to COVID.*

Then, take advantage of the collective impact of all of this has on the C-Suite. The pandemic has given way to a rising appreciation for the importance of how remote working and collaboration actually work.

There is also a rising awareness that much of what has been done out of necessity during COVID has highlighted the many governance, security, and accountability gaps that need to be addressed.

So where’s that glass of lemonade among the sea of lemons? It's that this combination provides an opportunity for those who have long sought attention for effective information management as a prerequisite for digital transformation.

Information professionals, if your pleas for the importance of digital transformation at your organization have fallen short in the past - now your C-Suite is listening

Prepare for this conversation with AIIM's research report. Download your free copy to see all of the findings, real-world insight from the panel of expert users, and lessons and best practices from AIIM's training reinforced throughout.

Free eBook: Mastering Your Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Investment