The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic transformed the global workforce. Research indicates approximately 20% of people worked remotely all or most of the time before the pandemic. As of December 2020, this figure reached 71% — and it may continue to climb.
What the future holds for the remote workforce remains unknown. But, those who understand the technologies that shaped the quarantine work-from-home era are well-equipped to take care of themselves or others while they work remotely.
Now, let’s look at three technologies that reshaped the remote workforce during the quarantine work-from-home era.
As many companies began to let their employees work from home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Zoom video meetings became business as usual. In March 2020, Zoom reached 200 million daily meeting participants, up from approximately 10 million in December 2019. Furthermore, Zoom deployment increased over 45% between March and October 2020.
Zoom has helped businesses stay connected to employees and clients around the world during the pandemic. But, as businesses have increasingly held Zoom meetings over the past year, Zoom dysmorphia has become problematic.
Dysmorphia for Zoom is a form of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a mental health condition in which a person cannot stop thinking about perceived flaws or defects in their appearance. When a person experiences Zoom dysmorphia, he or she may spend long periods thinking about how they look on video calls. This can cause an individual to feel self-conscious about their facial appearance, to the point where he or she tries to avoid Zoom calls altogether.
BDD affects around 2% of the U.S. population, and anyone who uses Zoom is susceptible to the condition. To combat Zoom dysmorphia, people can invest in a high-resolution camera and/or a ring light that enhances how they look during video calls. People can also turn off their camera on Zoom calls, so they can resist the urge to focus on perceived facial blemishes.
2. Online Whiteboard
As work-from-home numbers rose during the pandemic, the use of collaboration platforms rose as well. Slack, Asana, and other collaboration platforms fostered real-time engagement among remote workers. In addition, online whiteboard technology took remote collaboration to new heights — and may continue to do so in the years to come.
By using an online whiteboard, remote employees can participate in digital brainstorming sessions comparable to those held before the pandemic. The software lets users post sticky notes, drawings, and any other visual content they choose onto a digital canvas. Then, users can work together to bring their ideas to life.
If they haven’t already, It may be only a matter of time before the majority of companies realize the benefits of online collaboration tools. Once a company starts using these tools, they can empower its remote workers to flush out ideas from anywhere in the world, at any time. The result: remote employees can use the whiteboard to brainstorm ideas to help a company achieve its short- and long-term goals.
3. Endpoint Security
The rush to let employees work remotely during the pandemic created opportunities for cybercriminals. It also spawned a “cyber pandemic” that highlighted the need for companies to invest in endpoint security solutions.
In a survey of security professionals, 57% said they believe changes to endpoint security environments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have “significantly increased the risk of a major data breach.” As such, companies must ramp up their endpoint security efforts to keep pace with these changes — or risk data breaches.
There are many things that businesses can do to protect their remote employees against endpoint attacks, such as:
- Install software updates and patches to repair security holes and vulnerabilities.
- Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
- Use a firewall.
- Do not open email attachments that appear suspicious and/or come from unknown senders.
- Perform regular data backups.
Of course, any time there are concerns or questions regarding endpoint security or other IT issues, remote employees should not hesitate to reach out for support. Companies can put remote personnel in touch with IT support professionals who can help them alleviate security problems or other issues before they escalate.
The Bottom Line on Technology Used During the Quarantine Work-from-Home Era
The work-from-home era began during quarantine and appears likely to continue long into the future. Technology to support working from home continues to evolve, and there are several things that remote employees can do to get the most value out of it, such as:
- Learn as much as possible about work-from-home technology. Ask questions about how to implement remote work technology and use it correctly. That way, remote workers can avoid security issues and other technology problems.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Use video chats and other remote work communication and collaboration tools to remain in contact with peers and superiors. In doing so, remote workers can stay connected to one another, even though they may be physically far apart.
- Provide feedback. Offer insights into any remote work technologies that hit or miss the mark. By providing feedback, a remote worker can help their employer determine which remote work technologies offer the best ROI.
Work-from-home technology is a work in progress. Watch for new work-from-home technologies as they become available, and businesses may discover innovative tools that can help their remote personnel become more productive and efficient than ever before.