How to make remote work effective during coronavirus outbreak
Coronavirus has affected companies even in the most technologically advanced countries and regions.
Let’s face it: almost everyone is working from home. During our conversations with the customers, businesses focused on hiring in-house employees and were sometimes sceptical towards outsourcing or, god bless, hiring an offshore dedicated team. Current market situation makes business managers cut costs and switch to a remote model, and time will show it actually works.
But CEOs need to know how to make it as effective as possible.
We’ve been setting up dedicated teams and managing outsourced projects for our customers for years. We know how to make remote work effective, what works and what doesn’t – we’ve been through it all. I’m not going to lie: we failed and succeeded through bad experience and mistakes.
In this article, we have described all the pros and cons, possible issues and solutions associated with remote workforce and its effectiveness.
Cold fact: remote work can be inefficient and chaotic
It’s true that you can’t just send people home and hope they understand how to work together organically on a remote basis. The successful implementation of remote work requires guidance, process tuning, software and hardware audit and preparation.
Done improperly and considered as a temporary emergency solution, remote work can be extremely ineffective and lead to further bad expectations and disappointment around this style of work. Many companies are simply not ready to send entire teams or departments home.
How to make remote work effective
Good news is that remote work can make your teams happier and more productive, provided everything right of course you do everything right. And in case you or your team need to work from home or you plan to try it for your business, here are our main tips for making your operations productive. Be present with your team
Be present with your team
Let’s acknowledge the fact that remote work itself can be quite difficult for people who are not used to it. This is especially true when they do not have the necessary soft skills, such as excellent communication or self-organization skills. Thus, for many people the need to be removed from the office can only exacerbate the already stressful situation associated with the outbreak of Coronavirus.
And if the company does not create initiative support groups and does not explain the situation to its employees, many of them may feel left out, because for the first time they will encounter such a concept as remote work. And everything that is unknown always scares people.
Remote work inevitably leads to new security considerations. Every employee should know exactly what needs to be done to stay safe online while working at home, and it is your responsibility to manage that.
A short checklist to help you:
- Work only on trusted devices.
- All desktop and laptop computers must use full disk encryption.
- Home routers should not use default passwords and should be checked for firmware updates.
- As a rule, try to minimize the storage of confidential customer data on local devices (like contracts, invoices etcetera). Encourage your team to routinely check their local storage and clean the sensitive data.
- Use database software tools to securely store passwords. Try 1Password (subscription) or KeePassX (freemium).
Communication is king
Maintaining open communication can be one of the biggest challenges managing your team. Tools to make communication easier for you and your team:
- Daily communication: Slack
- Video conferencing: Google Meet.
- Scheduling: Google Calendar.
- Project and task management: Trello, Asana.
- Time tracking: Toggl
- Internal documents and JDs: Notion, Confluence.
Set KPIs for every department
What you expect from your teams will depend on the type of business you manage. For example, your customer service teams may need availability between certain hours, while your design team may be able to pick up a project at any time of the day. Whatever your expectations are: clearly let people understand from the very beginning and make sure everyone fully acknowledges the rules. Here are a few things you should think about and discuss with those you work with:
- Working hours. Please make sure that people know whether their schedule should be the same or whether it may be more flexible when working from home.
- Availability. In case you need to know when your teams are present, make sure that you have a process to inform you that they are outside their workplace. The Slack tool is really useful here because you can set your status by letting everyone know that you are at lunch, meeting, or on a trip to the doctor.
- Processes and priorities. Please remember that some types of work may be possible from home, while others may not and you may need to review some of your processes and priorities and adapt them to work at home. Also make sure that you report any changes in your life and work to your teams.
Friendly tips for your employees
Maintaining the happiness and balance between the work and personal life of your teams is as important as creating the structural basis for remote work. Disconnecting from the office environment and spending too much time at home may be stressful, so be sure to encourage people to take breaks and spend time away from their jobs – seriously, keep that in mind. And of course, there are also many ways that employees can help themselves:
- First things first, get comfortable. In case you have a free room for use as an office, then this is simply ideal for you and your work. But in the event that this is not possible, use a small table in another room, your kitchen table or a place for coworking. Of course, working from a sofa or bed can be very tempting, but when professional and personal spaces intersect, it can be difficult to disconnect and switch specifically to work. Also lying on the couch is extremely inconvenient to work with.
- Think about how you use the device. Ideally, you will have two devices: one for work and one for home. In case this is not possible, the use of a laptop with a monitor and keyboard, rather than on your lap, can serve as a mental signal to separate work and personal time. It is also a good idea to split up the hard drive and create a separate account for work.
- Dress for work. We are not talking here about a full suit and tie, but wearing comfortable and at the same time presentable clothes, rather than plain-looking pajamas, will greatly help you focus on doing the work. It also means that you are ready, if something happens, to go out into the fresh air, which will also help to work, because walking is important for health.
- Adhere to the regular schedule. Even if working from home means that you can be flexible with your time, setting your own time and maintaining it helps to maintain a balance between work and personal life, because of which you will have enough time for everything that you would like to do in some day.
- Get up and move. We understand that without a walk to the station or a walk at lunch, it is easy to become sedentary, working from home. Therefore, we advise you to take a walk while you, for example, are talking on the phone. With the help of such walks you will not only not worsen your own health, but also make your remote work more productive! For example, the 1Password tool offers everyone the opportunity to spend on healthy activities away from the keyboard; be it yoga classes, a monthly kayak ride or a subscription to the meditation app.
Share this brochure with your team in a friendly and helpful way:
- Put your employees well-being first
- Don’t be scared of switching to remote: you will not only protect yourself and your family from the Сoronavirus disease, but you will also receive additional, and maybe basic income
- Stay safe and healthy!
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