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May 14, 2020

The Future of Remote Work After COVID-19

We’re many weeks into the huge disruption caused by coronavirus. Virtually overnight, many of us began working from home, collaborating, and trying to stay productive in new ways. Others have faced unemployment and the challenges of a fearsome illness. Never have so many of us had to learn so much in so short a time.

The pandemic has accelerated some changes that have been in play for years, including remote work and telemedicine. We may find that these become the “new normal.” Other transformations—such as drive through grocery pick-up and online SATs—are short-term fixes that may or may not continue.

While we adapt to this ever-changing situation, we’re also beginning to think about the end of the crisis, and what our lives will look like afterward. We asked the Allego leadership for their perspective on how work, learning, and technology will change due to COVID-19. Their insights provide a preview of what might be ahead for companies and consumers once we emerge from this stressful time.

Innovation Will Help Society Adapt

Yuchun Lee, Chief Executive Officer & Co-FounderYuchun Lee
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

“Even though in the short term it’s a painful change, I am optimistic that massive innovation will happen that helps society adapt to this new way of living and doing business. I believe leveraging technology to allow learning, collaboration, communication and work in general that transcends both “space” (e.g., virtual, remote) and “time” (e.g., asynchronous) will fundamentally make lives more efficient and more productive.

“Work that can be transacted via “bits” instead of “atoms” (e.g., banking, getting licenses, voting) will get yet another boost toward leveraging technology to get the job done. For the remaining part of society that relies on physically moving things, technologies that help move “atoms” (e.g., delivery droids and autonomous vehicles) will be needed to help bridge the gap and challenges of commerce and supply chain. New forms of entertainment will emerge. New forms of video conferencing will emerge. In 10 to 20 years, young folks will gasp about the inhumane nature of how we sat in front of a screen for hours — just to be in meetings!”

Remote Work Will Become the Norm

Mark Magnacca, President & Co-FounderMark Magnacca,
President and Co-Founder

“For training, I believe that a virtual onboarding process will become the norm versus flying people to headquarters for the standard onboarding process. For financial services, there will be fewer in-person conferences. The ride-along coaching process that has been a standard in sales management is likely to change. Using technology such as Allego would be a great way to address this change. For worklife, I think remote work will become more the norm for a larger percentage of the population.”

Platforms Will Support New Learning

George Donovan, Chief Revenue OfficerGeorge Donovan
Chief Revenue Officer

“Video conferencing fatigue is already setting in. There is a clear reduction in the number of people using the camera on calls. This will continue. I’ve had several people ask “Can we just talk on the phone?” or “Can we just share an Allego rather than get on a Zoom”?

“There is a growing number of people who are hungry to learn new things. People have more time on their hands and they are looking to stay busy. In my house, for example, I have one daughter who is teaching herself French for fun and another who is working on an advanced degree even though she is not enrolled in an advanced degree program. I’m hearing more and more stories like this. Allego can help people further their education and knowledge in certain areas. Our platform can support as much learning as companies want to put in it.

“Some people and companies will never go back to an office. I predict that some companies will never re-open. Not because they are out of business but because they realized they don’t need an office. I’ve already read stats of productivity being up in some companies as a result of working from home. If this is the case, Allego can help these “remote only” companies support their new environment.”

Companies Will See Pros and Cons of WFH

Laurie Long, VP Customer SuccessLaurie Long
VP, Customer Success

“Prior to COVID-19, I was a strong supporter of the occasional work-from-home situation.  People benefitted from a day or two of not commuting, working uninterrupted, and being available for family obligations, home repairs, etc. It was a flexible benefit that did not cost a penny with a strong return from an employee engagement and morale perspective. However, I steadfastly prioritized time in the office for face-to-face meetings, hallway conversations, drive-by office meetings ahead of work from home. Those live interactions are invaluable and are especially important in a small start up as priorities change quickly.

“Since COVID-19, with our entire team working from home, I have seen employee productivity increase. Granted, there are very few distractions outside of work at the moment. However, work from home allows employees to start and end work sooner, avoiding the wear and tear and stress of a commute. I think that even when we’re able to return to the office, Allego and other companies will have a more flexible approach to remote work.

“On the downside, the challenge of onboarding a new employee completely remotely is a tough one. For new employees, building relationships with their peers is so critical and can be difficult to do when you are meeting your co-workers via Zoom or over email.”

Small Screen Experience Will Change Communication

Wayne St. Amand, Chief Marketing OfficerWayne St. Amand
Chief Marketing Officer

“When everything about your employer is represented by a 3-inch square of streamed video on a computer screen it’s pretty clear that many employees will struggle to stay motivated, engaged, and truly connected to their colleagues.

“We are often told to over communicate in times like these but it’s not just the quantity of communication but also the quality of that communication. Video is certainly better than audio only but still doesn’t convey nearly the same depth of information as in-person meetings.

“In this new reality we must all think through not just what we are saying, but also how we are delivering the information we wish to convey, and the feeling we want to get across to the audience. Speakers’ levels of animation, expression and energy all have to be amped up in order to break through the fact that we are limited to a small screen experience.”

Flexible and Resilient Companies Will Survive

Scott Centurino, Chief Operations OfficerScott Centurino
Chief Operations Officer

“The unprecedented speed with which the pandemic has changed most markets, the economy and society as a whole has highlighted the importance of baking resilience and flexibility into a business. That is true for many areas: The ability to shift in a matter of days to 100% remote workforces and 100% selling relationships; managing the inherent risks of narrowly sourced JIT supply chains optimized for margins at every stage; or supporting teams in handling the elimination of traditional work/life boundaries.

“In some industries, no amount of preparation could handle the level of decimation they have experienced. But for many others, the culture, talent, and tools in place at a firm before the crisis hit will define how they come out of it—potentially positioned better than when they started, at least on a relative basis. Allego has a culture and talent that is helping us weather the pandemic and our platform can help other companies be more flexible and resilient in this new situation.”

Companies Will Re-Think WFH

Joe Freitas, Chief People OfficerJoe Freitas
Chief People Officer

“I think that many companies will change the way they look at working from home after the COVID-19 pandemic. Up until now, working from home was a luxury/perk afforded to organizations that had built infrastructures and management teams that could support it. COVID-19 made working from home a necessity and brought companies that never thought they would be able to support such an initiative along kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I believe that this will also make companies rethink the real estate footprint that is actually needed to conduct business, as much of the workforce may transition to home-based.”

A Chance to Reset

The coronavirus era may be a chance for individuals and organizations to reset, to adopt new approaches and leave behind behaviors and assumptions that were not serving them well. The pandemic has exposed both strengths and weaknesses in our society. We may come out of this transformed and better prepared for the next crisis.

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