The World's Biggest Work From Home Pilot Project

05/14/20

Even before the global pandemic struck, “work from home” culture was on the rise. But as the status quo changes from a cubicle to the kitchen counter, how will we react?

In the business world, pilot projects offer substantial value by providing an opportunity to test a concept with minimal risk exposure, at a lower investment than launching a full program. Pilots test the viability of a new idea, product or program in a low-risk arena, and allow teams to identify what adds value and what needs to be tweaked for future iterations. Usually, before launching a pilot project, there is ample time to plan, gather resources, make hypotheses and identify potential risks – but sometimes, that is not the case.

And by sometimes, I mean right now.

Today, it is commonplace to say that this global pandemic has turned our world upside down – and whether you’ve realized it or not, COVID-19 has inadvertently created the “world’s biggest work from home pilot.” Previously, only about 7% of Americans had the option to work remotely; due to recent events, this figure has nearly quadrupled. Without any preliminary research or planning, and with varying levels of preparation, businesses have jumped straight into the deep end of a work from home pilot and are learning to swim as they go.

Like any pilot, it is important to check the pulse of the experiment and record major trends, look for ways to improve and start predicting outcomes. While it seems premature to predict the conclusion of this pandemic, we should pause to measure progress and determine ways we can continue to grow, improve and learn moving forward.

So how has your company fared? It may be time to check the progress of your work from home pilot and ask some forward-looking questions:

  • Management: How do we function as a team? Do we have the skills needed to be successful?
  • Environment: What impact does our new style of work have on the planet? What do we want to keep from this new model, and what must revert to previous ways?
  • Profit: How has this impacted our bottom line? How might we better account and plan for the future?
  • Scalability: Could this pilot continue to function when the scope is expanded? How would our operations need to change to make this more efficient?
  • Configurability: How easy would it be to reconfigure our space, settings and components to adapt to a major disruption like this again in the future?

I can’t provide a detailed prediction of what post-pandemic life might be like, but I also get the sense that I’m not the only one who’s starting to think about it. I mean really think about it. When this ends – however this ends – what will we have gained? What will we have learned?

On a personal level, many of us will never forget:

  • How much we rely on our community to make us feel at home
  • The humbling realization that you’re unable to teach your child 5th grade math and the utter appreciation for teachers everywhere
  • That sharing a kitchen-turned-office with your family wasn’t that bad

As for businesses, the lessons we hope will stick are:

  • We have the ability and resilience to adapt.
  • There’s an opportunity for growth in everything (even if you have to search really hard).
  • Without people, profits have little meaning.

At Milepost, we value how a new program or idea impacts people, the planet and profit. We also have experience building and launching pilot programs. If your organization is working on its own pilot project, reach out – we’d love to help.

Contact us today to start a conversation.

*This article is the third of our series: “When life gives you Corona, Milepost can bring the LIMEs!” (Leaders in Managing Engagement) We strive to bring you our recommendations on how businesses can cope in this new world order.

Virginia Barry
Virginia Barry