Time to embrace Smart Work: How COVID-19 will teach us to be more efficient and come out stronger
There’s no denying that COVID-19 or Coronavirus is a very unfortunate event that’s caught everyone by surprise. We’re certainly living through difficult times and this situation will likely remain for a while. But rather than panic, let’s work on what we can control.
Figuring out ways to work smarter and more efficiently is nothing new. However COVID-19 has forced the issue sooner than expected, and the whole world is being pushed quickly towards a smarter, remote working life.
Enter ‘Smart Work’
Smart Work is how I refer to all those activities that we can do in a more agile and efficient way. There are actually quite a few:
- Work from home vs. commuting
- Talk using video conferencing like Zoom or Blue Jeans vs. onsite meetings
- Use and adopt cloud-based software like SFDC vs. on-premise
- Use online file-sharing like Dropbox or Box vs. relying on your hard drives and using email
- Use tools like Slack as a complement to email
- Collaborate and get work done online with tools like Aha, Asana and Atlassian
- Please, please, stop printing paper and sign documents using DocuSign or similar
And last but not least…
- Run remote user research and testing
I know many of you are thinking this is nothing new! Many of these companies have been around for a long time. Marc Andreesen said it loud and clear back in 2012: software is eating the world. Sure, but there’s still lots of adoption opportunities and culture change that needs to happen.
There’s a reason why some of the most successful companies on earth are adopting many, if not all, of these smarter practices: they’ve adapted to today’s modern, cloud software-based world.
I know Eric Yuan, CEO at Zoom, talks to customers everyday. Does he travel everyday? No, he drinks his own champagne and uses Zoom to meet them virtually. Mega successful companies like InVision or Basecamp don’t even have physical offices. Lots of smart companies have decided to run virtual conferences, since onsite events are prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. The list is endless…
These days we’re reading all kinds of analysis on how ‘recession-proof’ certain companies are, or who will get impacted the most (both negatively and positively) from an economic downturn. The key trend from all this analysis is that agility and the capacity to adjust fast are the determining factors behind survival (while also minimizing costs and being efficient). Smart Work will help companies and individuals do all of this.
However, it’s not as simple as it seems. All parties, including employers and employees, need to adapt and contribute. In some areas of the world, like Silicon Valley where I reside, this concept of Smart Work is often table stakes. People are used to it already so the current situation does not create much disruption.
In other areas and cultures of the world, like Italy or in Spain where I’m from, some of the Smart Work activities and practices I listed above (like work from home) definitely aren’t adopted. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
In my personal opinion, it all starts with great leadership, by empowering and trusting employees with the right culture, tools, targets and processes. And this must continue with the employees, who need to demonstrate both the commitment and responsibility to earn the trust of leadership and their own peers. In other words, it’s everyone’s responsibility to make Smart Work work.
Smart UX research and testing
Regarding the last bullet point on the list, remote user research and testing, I have to say that we at UserZoom have been empowering Smart Work for over 10 years now. Our mission is to provide companies with actionable UX insights to design and deliver excellent digital experiences. We do this with 100% cloud-based, on-demand UX research and usability testing software, empowering our users to scale their activity, and all completely remote.
Whether it’s through remote moderated or unmoderated methods, UserZoom offers everything UX pros need to make research part of their own Smart Work.
We’ve never claimed the (physical) lab isn’t good for usability testing. We simply offer efficient, cost-effective alternatives while still delivering high quality actionable insights.
One more thing I’m super proud of is how remote UserZoom’s workforce is today. We may be a Silicon Valley HQ’d company, but we employ people from all over the US (7 states), 3 countries in the EU and Australia. We’ve adopted ALL of the practices and tools listed above, we’ve been doing it for a long time now and, best of all, resulting in the best performance in our history.
We at UserZoom say it’s time to EMBRACE, not just adopt, Smart Work.
I’ll leave you with a few links and references:
Tips to work efficiently, while remotely:
Tools that help us work smartly, efficiently:
Quick and easy remote UX testing for everybody!
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Originally from Madrid, Spain, Alfonso has 17 years of experience in User Experience, Digital Marketing, Ecommerce, Web Design, Web Project Management, User-Centered Design and Usability Testing.
Before founding UserZoom, he worked for companies such as Dell Computers, Icon Medialab (now LBi / Digitas), and Proxicom’s venture in Spain (now Indra). He’s a frequent speaker at UX conferences, has taught usability courses at various universities, and collaborates with the Stanford University Technology Ventures Program.