This is Part 2 of 3 of a series on business continuity amid disruptions.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, it has become inevitable for businesses to have their employees work from home. While it’s not a new concept, most companies are only doing it now, and with little room for transition for employees unfamiliar with the setup. What do organizations need to make it work, and how do they make the best of it?
Technology and infrastructure
It all starts with setting up an infrastructure with the proper distribution and accounting of laptops, phones, and even mobile connections. Check if everyone is well-oriented with what communication platforms you’ll be using throughout this period. There are loads to choose from, such as Google Hangouts, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Twist, etc. They will vary in features, so it’s up to you to see which is the best platform for each team.
Make sure everyone has access to their workload and necessary files or data they need. Teams that already use cloud storage and collaboration tools won’t have much trouble with this, but everyone else should be well-oriented to work with it, as to minimize errors with handling files or data. Think of it as designing a new workplace: it’s all about laying the groundwork for productivity. Make it accessible, but keep it secure.
Psychology and attitude
For some of your staff, working from home will be an unfamiliar experience. This is why it’s best to promote within your teams several techniques to keep their focus and stay on track. Most would be surprised by the sudden lack of a routine. You can handle this by putting a daily schedule in place, and allowing people to settle into the new rhythm within a few days. Dropping the commute time to zero sounds sweet, but it shouldn’t mean everyone should just turn on their laptops as soon as they wake up. Suggest a form of ritual that everyone can do before logging in: have breakfast, take a shower, and most importantly, exercise.
Throughout this early period of adoption, it should be imperative that you reach out more frequently than you usually do in the physical workplace. The casual office interaction is no longer there, so it’s up to you to spark the same warm attitude and open communication you have when you’re face-to-face. Smaller teams can implement a daily video conference call, and bigger teams can do it weekly, if not every two or three days. Take the time to pay attention to how others participate: is anyone unusually reserved? Are they getting the chance to talk? Ask questions and be open to feedback. It is in these times that your leadership can shine.
Metrics and productivity
As a leader, you must trust your employees. Your ability to monitor their progress will be extremely limited, but that leaves you with more time to focus on their output. Put metrics and KPIs on a work-in-progress state for the first week or two, and get ready to be flexible in applying these to each teammate.
The line between home and work has become blurred, which means circumstances at home may temporarily need your employees’ attention now and then. It’s a different situation for everyone, so again, leaders must reach out, keep an open communication, and listen to their team.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought with it disruptions to the business landscape, some of it with an impact that can last longer than others. For leaders, it all comes down to their organizational agility and business continuity strategies, or the lack of it. Your quick transition to an arrangement like remote work can say a lot on how flexible and adaptive your operations are. But regardless of how well it goes, now’s the time for businesses like yours to experiment and discover more ways to navigate through unexpected challenges with solutions old and new.
How are you making the work-from-home setup work? As a leader, are you implementing other rules for your staff that we haven’t mentioned here? Share your best practices with us now for other organizations to learn.