Due to COVID-19, many businesses have had to quickly transition their employees to remote operations.
Under normal circumstances, businesses would usually have set up explicit processes and policies before switching employees to at-home work. However, quickly changing health guidelines and lockdown measures left some businesses scrambling as many employees who were working as usual one day were quarantined at home the next.
With some health experts predicting a continued necessity of social distancing and caution for months or even years to come, it may be necessary for teams to stay remote for long durations of time. Independent of the health crisis, many companies are recognizing the cost benefits that could come from not having office expenses, and many employees find that now they’re working remotely, they don’t want to go back to the office.
With those factors in mind, it looks like remote work is here to stay, and companies are looking for long-term solutions.
Here are some tips for creating the support systems and processes necessary for permanent remote work arrangements.
Get Long-Term Technology Solutions in Place
The first thing you should do to prepare your remote workforce for long-term work is get a cyber risk assessment done. An experienced IT professional can review your systems to help you identify risks your company may be exposed to through your remote IT setup. This is an essential step, as your remote network likely doesn’t have the same protections in place that your office did.
Once your assessment is done, you should use their recommendations to make sure every remote worker has security measures in place, including anti-malware, a VPN, firewalls, and other tools.
You’ll also need to make sure your employees have the ability to effectively access files and collaborate. Cloud solutions can provide a great solution that provides employees with these capabilities.
A capable Fort Lauderdale IT company like CompuLab can also equip your team with effective communication tools, network solutions to keep your work productive, and business disaster recovery solutions, among other resources your remote team might need.
You’ll also need to put policies in place concerning use of equipment and company resources. For example, are you using a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, or are all employees required to only use a dedicated device you’ve provided for work? These decisions will affect the cybersecurity measures you put in place.
While simply anything that worked may have been sufficient to get operations running in an emergency, now that there’s time to settle down, you should carefully examine your IT to make sure you have the right hardware and software solutions in place for your company’s security and productivity needs.
Make Your Company Culture Conducive to a Remote Environment
Do your employees have access to communication software so that they can keep in contact just as easily as they would in the office?
One of the main drawbacks of remote work is the social distance created in your team by being physically separated. This can result in a lack of collaboration, creativity, and ultimately, productivity.
To counter this effect, you need to create a conscious culture of connection and friendship. You can begin by creating space for employees to connect, such as a dedicated “water cooler chat” channel or a weekly meeting where employees are allowed to catch up on what’s going on in their lives outside of work.
You should also send the message, overtly and covertly, that you value ideas and input from all employees. Video meetings, while better for collaboration than mere email communication, still make it easy for employees to remain silent, especially if they feel that their input doesn’t matter. Tell your employees that you value their contributions, and then show you really mean it by thanking them for their ideas and responding positively.
Creating a conscious culture that’s welcoming and personal will help your remote employees stay happy and connected.
It’s important that managers understand the factors that can make remote work difficult for their employees. For example, otherwise high-performing employees may experience declines in job performance and engagement when they begin working remotely due to the shift.
The lack of face-to-face supervision and interaction can be detrimental to both managers and their employees as supervisors worry that their employees may not work as efficiently and many employees struggle with less immediate support on hand.
You should be clear from the start about what you expect from your employees and what they can expect from you. For example, does having flexibility with location mean employees have flexible hours too? Will employees be expected to clock in at certain hours, attend meetings, or come into the office location at certain intervals? Will hybrid office/remote options be available?
Make sure your policies and expectations are clear and that you give your employees the opportunity to ask these questions and raise their concerns.
By updating your technology solutions, company culture, and communication with your employees, you can set your remote workforce up for long-term success!