As COVID-19 disrupts both our personal and professional lives, many companies are doing their part to flatten the curve and contain the spread by encouraging their employees to work from home.
Businessolver is among those companies instituting that all offices work completely remote until further notice.
We are in a unique position to support remote employees as our third largest “office” is our remote workforce. As no two companies are alike, there are many hurdles to consider when developing and encouraging a healthy and productive remote workforce. Here are 5 key aspects to keep in mind:
- Technology. First things first. In order to have any semblance of a remote workforce you have to provide your employees with all the equipment they need to be productive. This includes monitors, laptops, internet access, phone service, etc. If an employee does not have adequate internet access, you may need to provide a hotspot or wireless access. Technology also includes any applications or digital tools they may need to keep communication open like: Microsoft teams, Slack or Skype. Be empathetic when you are training your employees as many may not be aware of how best to use these applications at home. Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure you IT teams know where the bottlenecks are from working from home so they can best support those who are having issues.
- Virtual meetings. During this period of social distancing it’s extremely important to invest in communication applications with video conferencing technology so you can continue to have important meetings while still at home. As mentioned above, Microsoft teams, Slack, Skype, Google hangouts are all good options. One tip to using these web-based applications is to set up ad-hoc teams that are focused on addressing a specific business function. Or, set up team chats so that everyone can collaborate easily. Get used to mentioning people (@name) so you can quickly solve problems and work together. But remember, it’s easy to get sucked into chatting with team members in and outside of the office. Make sure you know when to turn off your chat functions if you need to do some head’s down focusing.
- Culture. It’s difficult to maintain a strong company culture when your employees are spread out across the country. One way to help ensure your culture remains intact during a crisis situation is to maintain consistent communication that aligns with your brand and corporate messaging. Use the same communication mechanisms, tools, groups and meeting applications that you have in person but identify how you can adjust them to fit within a remote workforce. Find ways for people to group together and interact. Schedule remote lunch and learns and if you are using a video communication application, turn your camera on for more face to face interactions. Internally, we have increased the cadence/frequency of our "all-hands" meetings to ensure that we are getting people together and keeping our culture consistent.
- Security. Working in the technology industry, keeping our data safe is top priority. We have ensured that all our employees have the right tools to be effective and secure when working from home. Make sure your employees have access (and know how to use) a VPN for internal resources, Multi-Factor Authentication, secure email and other security focused tools to protect them and your data. It's a good idea to clearly communicate the appropriate protocols for working remotely or telecommuting including reiterating security policies and end user expectations. You don't want any surprises or unfortunate accidents with your information because employees didn’t “know the rules.”
- Centralized communication. During a time of uncertainty and/or emergency, providing a centralized way to communicate updates and policy changes with your workforce, quickly, is very important. Make sure everyone is hearing the same message, at the same time and they know where to go for questions. For example, we have a daily meeting with our executive team to ensure we are all aligned on the approach and messages we send to our employees. A good approach is to set up a message board or specific email address to answer employee questions and give feedback in real time.
The three T’s are the pillars to building an engaged and productive remote workforce: teamwork, transparency and technology. Keep communication avenues open, provide important updates with consistent messaging and make sure your employees have all the tools and technology they need to succeed outside of the office.
And, I’m not going to end this blog without mentioning empathy. Working remotely can be an emotional and mental challenge for some. Be sure to check in with your employees and listen to their feedback on a regular basis.
With the current landscape, you may need to get creative with benefits offerings. Read our white paper below for some tips.