Without a doubt, 2020 was daunting for most people. The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed daily life for many, especially for those who had to adapt to a new work routine in which the office had, overnight, become the couch, bed, or dining table. The complete switch from in-office work to remote was sudden and likely challenging for a lot of people.
Within a couple of months, the demand for home office furniture had skyrocketed and companies were on the hunt for software that would allow employees to complete their work from home. A year after the start of the pandemic, things haven't changed much as most people are still working remotely. It’s official, time to settle in—those home offices are here to stay.
Remote work is here to stay
According to G2 data, between January and June 2020, Video Conferencing Software category traffic increased by 657%, with the highest peak in traffic between April and May of 2020 (see chart below). Category traffic for Audio Conferencing Software shot up by 330%, and traffic for Screen Sharing Software increased by 295%, all within the same six-month timeframe. This traffic boost indicates that companies needed to find solutions quickly as it became evident that working from home was going to be the new normal for quite some time.
Before the pandemic hit, remote work used to be a perk for employees, but research shows that it’ll likely become a permanent offering from many employers now. A survey conducted by Enterprise Technology Research highlights that the percentage of permanent remote workers is expected to double this year. According to the 1,200 chief information officers surveyed, the increase in overall productivity since the COVID-19 lockdown was proof enough that remote work could, well, work.
G2 data related to category traffic may be another clue as to how permanent remote work may be. Based on the traffic for Video Conferencing Software, per the chart below, we can see that the interest in this software is still significantly higher than it was pre pandemic.
Category traffic had a drastic increase between January and June of 2020, after which it decreased and eventually plateaued. This is likely due to companies finding suitable software for their needs at the time. However, the data shows that interest in the category was still significantly higher in January 2021 compared to January 2020. This shows a consistent interest in software that is critical to a remote workforce.
It’s likely that those who are loving the commute-free lifestyle may not have to dread a return to office anytime soon. However, some may be struggling to fully adapt to this new virtual workplace. Don’t worry—we have some recommendations that will be game changers for those feeling unproductive or a little out of touch with their peers.
Tech for a more engaging and productive home office
While working from home has led to increased productivity for many, it can be difficult for individuals to feel engaged. In an office setting, employees more naturally communicate, collaborate, and network. Thankfully, many software solutions can help to resolve these common issues.
For example, employees can collaborate and network via virtual workspaces, which serve as a digital, simulated office space outfitted with collaboration and communication tools to replicate a physical office space. Virtual workspaces provide structure and a framework for interaction that wouldn’t exist via a typical video conference tool.
"This software helps users feel connected, reduces the feelings of isolation while working remotely, and helps to establish the feeling of a real office."
Another way for remote employees to easily collaborate is to utilize visual collaboration platforms. Visual collaboration platforms allow multiple users to collaborate and communicate in real time by providing features such as whiteboards, diagramming, screen sharing, and text, video, or audio conferencing. These cloud-based platforms provide an infinite and scalable solution that makes remote collaboration effortless.
Miro, one of the most popular visual collaboration platforms on G2, has over 50 reviews that specifically mention ways in which the product has helped users while working from home. A review by Jessica U talks about how Miro helped this user’s team adapt to remote work during the pandemic.
In a world now dominated by video calls with colleagues, some help with meeting organization may be in order. Meeting management software allows users to plan and guide meetings to ensure that objectives are met, minutes are recorded, and action items are outlined. Meeting management software promotes engagement in a focused and worthwhile manner, ensuring users tackle all agenda items productively.
Taylor S. reviewsDocket, a popular meeting management software. Since using Docket, Taylor’s team is “way more prepared, efficient, and organized. Meetings are more productive, have clearer goals and action items, and we collaborate better as a team.”
How to remain focused while working remotely
While many people cite increased productivity since working remotely, some have found it difficult to get into work mode when the office is now their living room. According to an article by CNBC,the average working day has increased by 3 hours in the US since the pandemic began. Part of this is due to a plethora of distractions at one’s disposal: TV, family, pets, news, and so on, which can all break employees’ concentration and sidetrack them from the tasks at hand.
A study completed by JDP found that 54% of those surveyed reported more distractions while working from home. Another reason why the workday has become longer for some is the reduced sense of urgency to complete tasks before leaving the office as well as the pressure to always be available to management.
While impaired concentration is a natural side effect of working from home, there are plenty of ways to help maintain productivity and, as a result, work-life balance, including the use of software specifically designed to keep employees on track.
Objectives and key results (OKR) software can help users remain on top of their goals as well as stay aligned with their career objectives. OKR software includes dedicated tools for setting, communicating, tracking, and measuring goals and results for teams and individuals. These platforms provide a centralized place for individuals to record their goal progress, road blockers, and project completion. On G2, the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) Software category was another highly searched category last year, with an increase of 392% between January and June 2020. These tools can keep employees on track and help maintain that work-life boundary while working remotely.
Getting comfortable with the new normal
Companies have already begun to adapt to the new remote workforce and will continue to do so moving forward. Those that previously didn’t offer work from home capabilities have now learned that, overall, employees can be just as productive when working remotely. As a result, expectations moving forward have shifted as employees want a more flexible and hybrid schedule.
As technology continues to evolve to meet these growing demands, new and exciting products will become available with the purpose of enhancing the work from home experience.G2’s category listingscan help businesses keep on top of the best software and user reviews.
Brianna is a Senior Research Analyst at G2 with a focus on Collaboration, Productivity, and Office software. Prior to joining G2, she was a consultant at a Fortune 100 company where she worked in Marketing and Research & Development. Prior to moving to Chicago, Brianna worked as a Management Consultant for the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. In her free time, Brianna enjoys traveling, theatre, and interior design.