For over a year, the question of when — and how — returning to work post-pandemic will occur has been on the minds of employees and managers alike.

Return to Work Why Collaborative Software Is More Important Than Ever 2

While vaccine distribution is well underway in some locations, and a recent poll shows 79% of working professionals state their company plans to return to onsite work, remote work and virtual meetings aren’t going away anytime soon, if ever. 

Returning to the office will bring some changes to the physical setup of work, not to mention how we interact with one another. Will breakroom gatherings and office kitchen happy hours still be the case? Will the balance shift to remote workers as being “in the know” more than their in-office counterparts?

If the pandemic revealed anything, we now know large-scale remote work can succeed. Even before the pandemic, a 2018 Stanford study proved there’s a productivity boost when employees are given the freedom to work remotely. Companies that embrace a “virtual first” work model will see work distributed across home, office, and satellite offices — across borders and time zones. Now, more than ever, organizations will need to embrace technologies such as collaborative work management (CWM) solutions.

CWM: You can’t afford to lose it

Before the pandemic, you may have been among those who thought your tech stack was complete, only to find out that when work went remote, your assumption was wrong. During remote work, technology like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and G Suite likely boosted your teams’ productivity, especially if any of these were your only means of collaboration. As the pandemic dragged on, gaps in team collaboration — daily stand ups, in-person whiteboarding sessions, group design asset reviews, etc. — were exposed. These gaps most likely led you to invest in a CWM. Now, with the possibility of working in-office in sight, evaluating work processes and software for the future may be top-of-mind. You may even think it would be a good idea to revert back to your old tech stack. 

CWM should be the centerpiece of your return-to-work plan. Here are three reasons why:

  1. If you drop your CWM, all new work requests will go back to the disorganized way it used to be — Slack, email, stand up meetings, desk drop-ins, etc. 
  2. Next, your paper trail will disappear. Contrary to what some may think, this isn’t a good thing. A single source of truth, where all team communication is kept, along with the record of how projects reached completion, is a good thing. Losing a master system of record is a bad thing.
  3. Tracking projects and team budgets in disparate tools will return to their old, cumbersome, needlessly complex way of being. The same is true with reporting: You shouldn’t have to access multiple apps to pull data to report to your team, executives, and external stakeholders. 

Then, consider the team dynamics. Some teammates are happily returning to the office, while others are just as happy staying remote. Finally, there are others who will work a hybrid model — a combination of remote and in-office. (According to a Harvard study, at least 16% will remain at-home workers at least two days per week.) Regardless of what work style an individual selects, they should be able to participate and collaborate as easily and as effectively as they have during the pandemic.

Cutting collaborative work management software is much more than group chat and video communication tools — it's the only legitimate option you have when it comes to keeping your organization collaborative, competitive, and capable of handling your workforce’s preferred way of working. 

The future of work is virtual and global

Having a “distributed workforce” grew to epic proportions in 2020, and it continues into the first half of 2021. As the pandemic worsened, many companies had no choice but to go remote overnight — others not only made the transition, but eventually announced remote work opportunities forever. Whether your team can relate to one or the other, or you land somewhere in between, adopting a virtual-first work model isn’t just the Next Normal, it's the new paradigm. 

In a 2020 report, Owl Labs’ findings showed that:

  • 50% would move if they were able to work from home all or most of the time.
  • 50% won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after the pandemic.
  • 23% of full-time employees are willing to take a pay cut of over 10% to work from home at least some of the time.

As you can see, half the workforce believes they have the freedom to live and work wherever and for whomever they wish. Accepting a job based on the office’s location may not be a significant factor anymore. Whether you want to relocate and work closer to family, be somewhere tropical, in the mountains, or from your home office — you can — without jeopardizing your work and career opportunities. Any organization that opts to discard or downgrade their project collaboration software will lose talent.

CWM drives digital transformation 

Alongside the transition from remote to in-office work, digital transformation has become more of a priority for many companies because of the pandemic. Think of it like this. The adoption of a CWM solution was a major step in your company's digital transformation. One that enabled your teams to accomplish their current goals, but also scale into the future. The adoption of a CWM enabled your organization to drive continuous growth by improving workflows, became the hub for all your work, enabled cross-functional and distributed collaboration, and might have even fast-tracked creative approvals (thanks to add-ons like Wrike Proof). Top that off with built-in automation that reduces repetitive work and you have a robust platform that allows you to maximize efficiency and productivity. 

So why would you consider getting rid of your CWM now that you’ve already completed one of the harder to achieve digital transformation goals? 

As Sanjay Rishi, Americas CEO at JLL, states it’s time for organizations to be bold in how they prioritize digital transformation, embrace distributed work models, and create an exceptional work experience. The only way to accommodate these objectives is to rely on collaborative work management software.

See how Wrike helps create an exceptional work experience and allows your team to organize work, enhance collaboration, and scale. Start your Wrike free trial today.