If the COVID-19 pandemic taught business leaders anything, it’s that remote work is a necessity, not a luxury. Many cities forced non-essential businesses to close to reduce the spread of the virus, while others encouraged social distancing in the workplace.
Regardless, companies that had yet to dip their toes into the remote work waters are finding themselves navigating uncharted territory. As you’re exploring ways to make working from home work for the company, its employees, and its customers, here are a few things you can start doing today.
1. Develop a Remote Work Policy
HR continues to play a critical role when sending employees home to work. Like any other business practice in your company, you’ll want to develop clear policies around working remotely to protect your company and set employees up for success. These policies can focus on everything from compensation to working hours to productivity and more.
2. Equip Your Remote Team with Tools and Tech
Invest in the right remote work tools and software.
Working alone and outside of the normal work environment can take a toll on even the best employees. Leaders can and should help to fill the gap by relying on collaboration software, conference tools, and other tech that can minimize changes to the daily workflow.
- Basics: WiFi internet, monitor and keyboard for a laptop or tablet, email
- Video Conferencing: Zoom, Skype
- Collaboration: Google Docs, Base Camp, Trello
- Communications: Slack, WhatsApp
3. Establish Work Expectations
Workers that aren’t used to working from home may embrace the opportunity to do so; however, some may also feel at a loss as to how to translate their role into a productive remote job. To help them gain their footing, company leaders should set clear expectations on how to work remotely, goals to be met, and where to go for help.
One thing many remote workers struggle with is feeling disconnected from the rest of the team. It’s not just the physical distance, but also the amount of time it takes to ask questions and get answers. To help, consider establishing the following guidelines:
- Normal working hours — when the workday begins and ends
- Response times — a reasonable amount of time to respond to questions, email, etc.
- How to spend “company time” — what to do about doctor’s appointments, handling kids home from school, etc.
4. Instill Trust and Confidence
Trust your employees to continue with business as usual.
Leaders should acknowledge that employees working from home will face distractions and there’s a real chance of losing productivity. Keep in mind this is new territory for many, and the challenges that come with a new remote work policy are normal. That doesn’t mean the system is broken or that it can’t work in your favor.
First and foremost, give your employees confidence that they can do an exceptional job from afar. Showing you trust them enough to work from home can speak volumes as to your own leadership skills and lets them know you’re ready to offer support.
5. Foster Engagement and Community
Teamwork will continue to play a critical role in working from home, so encourage your teams to communicate and collaborate as often as they would in your physical offices. Have daily check-ins and video conferences to help them stay connected. Doing so can form solidarity for remote teams and remind each person they’re not really alone.