How to Transition to Remote Work [Tips & Tricks]
COVID-19 has turned the world of businesses and millions of workers upside down who are now forced to work from home (WFH) due to shelter-in-place mandates. With economic headwinds before us, it is critical that businesses and workers ensure they are doing everything possible to remain productive. Remote work is not a new phenomenon: Remote work has increased as an option over 40% over the past five years. Here are some tips and tricks on how to transition to remote work.
Putting the Right Technologies in Place for Remote Work
New technologies enabled a rapid transition to the WFH new normal. Virtual meeting software such as Zoom and GoToMeeting allows workers to collaborate and share information with each other as if they were attending a physical meeting in person. Collaboration software like Slack and Trello facilitate one-to-one as well as one-to-many interactions over text, video, audio, and phone. Project management software like Workfront, Jira, and Smartsheet keep projects on track. The list could go on.
Enabling Successful Remote Work
As the length and extent of WFH remains uncertain, businesses and their workers need to ensure their remote work environments and processes are set up for success. Even when the shelter-in-place mandates are lifted, many businesses and workers may elect to continue WFH—or at least limit the number of days or even time spent working from a permanent office location or shared workspace. In addition to having the right technologies in place, they need to ensure that their workspace is configured for optimal work and their corporate culture and communications support workers who must now work from home.
Following are some tips and tricks that will help businesses—whether solopreneurs or those with 15, 25, or 50 employees—succeed while working remotely:
Defining Remote Work Policies
Even for businesses with remote work policies in place, they should revisit them as the current COVID-19 WFH environment may necessitate changes in them. Some of the items on the checklist should include:
• Availability. When should employees be available—online and phone? The business either needs to establish specific business hours or allow employees to set their own schedules.
• Tools. A business should clearly demarcate what technology tools will be used for collaboration and communications. For businesses that have not provided many employees with remote work options, they should give employees a channel to suggest and recommend tools.
• Data management. Certain documents contain critical information, and those must be protected. At the same time, teams need to maintain high levels of productivity, and thus how they share and collaborate on individual documents is important—both in terms of the technology tools and processes.
• Business outcomes. Businesses not only need to measure their success during WFH, but they also need to be able to measure the productivity of their workers.
Extending Company Culture to Remote Work
“Office” culture is really important for many businesses—and for their employees. For small businesses, the office is a place where employees make friends and have a sense of community, mission, and purpose. This is all thrown into disarray with WFH, and businesses need to ensure they extend their office cultures to remote work by finding different ways (whether eating together virtually or having a virtual happy hour).
Getting Social in Remote Work
The social aspect of work is important for many employees. This can quickly get lost in WFH. Tips organizations can try to ensure this is carried over into remote work include setting up Slack channels specifically intended to create fun, setting up virtual team-building exercises, and organizing virtual happy hours or get togethers.
Making Transparency a Goal
Transparency is especially important during times of crisis—and COVID-19 certainly qualifies as such. The management team needs to schedule regular communications—both virtual meetings and through email or collaboration tools. They need to clearly communicate the state of the company, set measurable company goals, and cascade those to each individual. This also means managers need to have regular check-ins with their employees to discuss project status and deliverables.
Don’t Expect Normalcy During Remote Work Transition
Not every employee will respond the same when suddenly moved from an office environment to WFH. Employees who were high performers in the office may be unable to function at the same level when working remote. To help offset these issues, managers need to provide their employees with more direction and provide more check-ins than normal.
Ensure Security Remains a Priority
WFH expands the attack surface as more devices come online, business-critical applications and data are accessed from home internet networks. At the same time, employees are more likely to be distracted and forget critical security protocols. Cybercriminals are certainly not going into hibernation with COVID-19. In fact, the opposite is true, with phishing and other malicious attacks skyrocketing over the past month and a half. To offset these increased security risks, businesses need to ensure they have the right security tools deployed—from endpoint security to two-factor authentication. Now may be a good time to reinforce cybersecurity awareness training as well.
Plan Ahead for Booking Meeting Rooms and Workspace
Once the shelter-in-place mandates are lifted, businesses will ease back into physical company and customer meetings. Rented meeting rooms that comes with the collaboration and presentation tools needed to ensure a productive and successful meeting are one option. Meeting rooms like Davinci Meeting Rooms are easy to find and book—which include multiple booking options such as web, live web chat, phone, or even a mobile app.
The same can be said about workspace for those who were working remote. Many workers may elect to continue WFH but may want to work from an office once or twice a week with their coworkers. Day offices and coworking spaces can be rented by the hour or by the day, providing businesses and workers with the flexibility they need to meet their schedules and personal requirements. Some businesses may even decide that they no longer need permanent offices and opt for virtual offices—everything from virtual addresses to shared workspace.